Thursday, December 9, 2010

Eat Less By Thinking About Eating More

They call it the 'imagination diet', and on first pass, it seems like a total joke. But what's funny is that it's actually based on tried and true principles of psychology. There might actually be something to this! Scientists believe that people who think about eating specific foods more often are actually able to curb cravings and end up eating less of them, as if they were actually eating the food in their minds, not just imagining it.

The concept is called 'habituation' and its the same thing that happens after you move into a new house, and eventually stop noticing the sound of cars driving by that initially bothered you, and how we get used to bright lights in a room, the smell of food while it's cooking or how that slice of pie or it stops tasting as good after the tenth bite. Humans simply get used to repeated stimuli and stop noticing or caring about things that happen over and over - physiologically, it's a way to save energy. This is true even if it's only in our minds.

So, basically, scientists believe that the more we think about eating specific snacks and treats, the less we actually care about them and the less we will actually eat in the long haul. The reverse is true in people who don't think about these foods as often, meaning that when they are in fact exposed to those stimuli, they will want them more. And sorry, actually eating those foods over and over won't help you lose weight!

So, come on - get started on thinking about all of those holiday sweets and treats and eventually they might just be as boring as those Christmas carols playing on repeat all season!