Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have found that imagining what we eat before we take the first bite may help us feel less compelled to eat as much as we would otherwise. The researchers found that people who just imagined moving M&Ms around ate nearly twice as much those who had fantasized about eating them.
Cornell Professor David Just has a theory about how it works, “If you start imagining yourself eating the M&Ms your body is actually going to produce some of the dopamine and some of the physical responses to having eaten.”
As odd as it my seem, If you want to eat less, first imagine eating a lot.
Your brain doesn’t know the difference between an imagined or real event. If you imagine eating it you set in motion the hormones that tell your brain you are satisfied. You communicate to the brain that you are feeling full due to the M&Ms you just ate, even though you have not actually eaten any.
What is not mentioned is that this guided imageries is a Hypnotherapy technique. This technique to prevent overeating along with stress reducing hypnosis exercises can greatly influence what and how much goes in our mouth.
As you increase the ability to eat mindfully you increase the ability to completely enjoy your food and also, signal the brain that you are full.
This also applies to other mindful behaviors. Like fear in people who have phobias. Even though that they don’t necessarily encounter the things that they are afraid of, thinking about feared stimulus can affect their stress levels and their cortisol production.
The possibilities are endless!
Here is the link to the study:
A link to NRP interview with Carey Morewedge, Assistant Professor of Social an Decision Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University: