This is an interesting one, couldn’t pass it up. A new study published in Science in December has found that if you think about eating a lot of a food, just think about it, the next time you have the opportunity to eat it you will eat less than you would otherwise.
Sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it? Here’s the deal. When we think about eating something we love, our mouth tends to water and we think about it for a moment but then drop it and start thinking about something else. This apparently grows (or does not change) our desire for the food. If, instead of just thinking about it for a moment, we visualize eating a lot of it, our “appetitive or motivational responses (wanting)” will lessen (comparatively). Our “motivation to obtain that food decreases.”
Interestingly, our “hedonic responses (liking and palatability)” do not change. So, it’s not as if we are turning ourself off to that food altogether, we are just consciously decreasing our desire for it.
I guess this is a good tip for anyone looking to eat less as a New Year’s resolution.
However, the point is that this works for the specific food you think about, not for other foods. So, it is especially useful if your are targeting specific foods you are trying to cut back on, or at least control your desire for.
The foods used in the study were M&Ms and cubes of cheddar cheese. And, basically, the general finding was the mind’s proven “ability to habituate to a stimulus that is only imagined,” a finding that could probably be relevant to other behaviors and desires.
For more on the study and its findings, check out the story on our sister site, Planetsave: Want to Eat Less? Just Imagine Eating More
Photo Credit: Pedro Moura Pinheiro