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Apr 17, 2011

Imagine What You Eat and Eat Less

2865384067_dc1b451471_mOne of the problems you can have when you’re trying to lose excess weight is all the pictures of food which we are constantly being bombarded with every day.
However, is that necessarily a bad thing I don’t mean that by what I’ve stated in the above paragraph. I’m talking about more your own thoughts from a food point of view.
Say, for instance, if you like a particular type of chocolate bar imagine eating every last bit of it. Now you might be thinking why on earth would I want to do that surely it’s going to make me want that particular food or is it?
You might be very surprised to the answer to that question, research which has been published in Science has actually found this to be true. What they found was when you actually imagine eating a certain food strangely enough it can stop you eating it so much.
This debunks the theory that when you think about certain foods too much you are far more likely to want to eat them more. The team which headed the research asked people to continually think about eating certain foods to see how it would affect them.
What they found was quite amazing when they imagined eating they were far less likely to want to eat it, the process completely decreased their appetite. Here is what one of the researchers had to say about what was going on.
“These findings suggest that trying to suppress one’s thoughts of desired foods in order to curb cravings for those foods is a fundamentally flawed strategy,” said Carey Morewedge, an assistant professor of social and decision sciences and lead author of this study.
“Our studies found that instead, people who repeatedly imagined the consumption of a morsel of food — such as an M&M or cube of cheese — subsequently consumed less of that food than did people who imagined consuming the food a few times or performed a different but similarly engaging task.
We think these findings will help develop future interventions to reduce cravings for things such as unhealthy food, drugs and cigarettes, and hope they will help us learn how to help people make healthier food choices.”
During the study, the researchers ran five different tests, to see what effects it had on the participants when they imagined mentally eating certain foods. In experiment one they went through the same process mentally 33 times.
A control group imagined a washing machine with 33 quarters in it this was supposed to simulate eating the food. People in another group imagined 30 quarters and were told to think about eating three M&Ms.
And the other group was told to think about putting 3 quarters into a washing machine and told to imagine eating 30 M&Ms. They all were then told to eat from a bowl containing M&Ms the ones that imagined eating 30 M&Ms actually ate less compared to their counterparts thus validating the theory.
Here is what one of the researchers said, which sums up how it works.
“Our findings show that habituation is not only governed by the sensory inputs of sight, smell, sound and touch, but also by how the consumption experience is mentally represented.
To some extent, merely imagining an experience is a substitute for actual experience. The difference between imagining and experiencing may be smaller than previously assumed.”

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