Just think REALLY hard about eating.

The story that caught my eye this morning was Just Thinking Harder May Help You Lose Weight from NPR’s Science department. The headline made me believe that scholars lose weight faster because they think a lot about big things, and that girls will now start adding the library as a stop on their way to the gym. Sadly that was not the case. It is actually about a study by Carnegie Mellon University that found that by “imagining what we eat before we take the first bite may help us feel less interested in really chowing down.”

They figured this out by having 400 volunteers look at computer with an image of a candy bowl filled with M&M’s. Half of them were asked to imagine moving the M&M’s “one-by-one” into another candy bowl, while the other half was asked to imagine “putting the candies into their mouths”. After spending sometime imagining moving M&M’s, the scientists then invited the volunteers to eat real ones. The ones who imagined eating M&M’s ate less than the ones who just imagined moving them into a new bowl.

This made me think of a family member of mine who would sit at the kitchen table and pretend to be eating air with fork in hand and all, to make herself feel less hungry. Other family members and I would laugh and poke fun at her, partly for her Charlie Chaplin like fake eating, but also because we thought she was crazy and that it would not work.  She would tell us that her acting and thinking that she was actually eating air, made her stomach think that she was indeed eating air. She was somewhat right; “there’s something about this visualization of eating that confuses our brains. It’s as if our minds mistake the mere act of imagining with real consumption”. Ahhh, the power of IMAGINATION!

But my family member was eating air as a way to stop her from eating actual food, not from eating less of her meal. Much like Mary-Kate does in the web series, Very Mary-Kate. In the episode Moving Day, Mary-Kate says how she looked at a picture of an English muffin yesterday and is still full.  This method of thinking of the action of eating might help reduce your consumption, but unfortunately contrary to MK’s beliefs, it will not replace eating and should not be used as a diet.

This study did prove a practice round before eating will decrease the amount you would eat.  However, there is a catch. Lets say you were imagining eating M&M’s, but than you sat down and started eating bites of cheese; you would still eat less than the people who did not imagine eating M&M’s, but you will eat more than if you had imagined eating cheese bites.  You have you know what you will be eating, and think about eating that food. Where my family member went wrong was that she was just trying to fool herself into thinking air was food, when she should have been thinking about the meatloaf we were having for dinner.

I do wish that if you think harder, about politics or current events, it would help you eat less (and there are those stories out there that make you want to stop eating); if anything just for better dinner conversations. What we should take from this study is not how to shave a few calories off our diets, rather to think more about how we are eating and not just what we are eating.

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One Response to Just think REALLY hard about eating.

  1. Allison says:

    I actually think there is some truth in that thinking.

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