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Friday, August 5, 2011

Imagine More, Eat Less

Have you ever eaten too much of a favorite food only to get sick of it? That's called habituation. In psychology, habituation is defined as a decrease in response to a stimulus after repeated presentations.

New research is finding that you can accomplish the same thing even if you only imagine that you are eating it. The December, 2010 issue of the world's leading journal of scientific research (Science), published the findings of Dr. Carey Morewedge, an experimental psychologist at Carnegie Mellon University at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and two of his colleagues.

In his report, he states that it was discovered that repeatedly imagining eating something lessens the desire to eat it. Fifty-one students who participated in the study were told to imagine themselves slowly eating M&Ms and also to imagine themselves inserting quarters into a laundry machine.

Half of them were to imagine eating 30 M&Ms and insert 3 quarters into a laundry machine and the other half were told to imagine eating 3 M&Ms and imagine inserting 30 quarters into a laundry machine. Afterwards, the students were given bowls of M&Ms and told to eat as much as they wanted.

The students who imagined eating 30, actually consumed only about 3 M&Ms and the students who imagined eating 3 M&Ms ate about 5 on the average. The study was also done with cheese cubes. And again, those who imagined eating 30 cubes of cheese ate less cheese when offered the real thing.

Dr. Morewedge suggests that this may be the reason why many diets fail. People who are overweight are encouraged to suppress their desire for foods they love and many times this does not work. But if a person was to imagine eating the foods they love from start to finish before they eat it in reality, this can somehow satisfy the brain's desire for this specific food.

In turn, this decreases the craving for it, causing them to actually eat less of it. Practicing this exercise before and between meals may offer an appetite suppressant effect when it comes time for mealtime. The best part about this little exercise is that it is free and it doesn't have any dangerous side effects. So, imagine for yourself your new diet.

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