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Imagination May Kill Food Cravings

Just thinking about eating food may be enough to curve your appetite.

Person holding M&Ms

Photo: Matt (flickr)

Imagination is a powerful tool.

Did you know that according to one study, it’s possible that repeatedly imagining eating a specific food can reduce your appetite for that food. And so you end up eating less.

An M&M Experiment

For example, researchers did an experiment where they had one group imagine eating thirty M&Ms and putting three coins into a slot.

A second group imagined eating only three M&Ms and putting thirty coins in a slot. The coins were there to fool the participants into thinking it was a study about imagination and size perception instead of about eating.

After the imagining session, both groups were allowed to eat from a big bowl of real M&Ms.

The results showed that the people who imagined eating more M&Ms ate fewer of the real ones.

Why Did People Eat Fewer?

It could be that the brain becomes used to the imagined sensation and so makes the real thing seem less desirable.

Or it may be that thinking about eating triggers the same brain chemicals as actual eating—which could make you feel less hungry.

But doesn’t thinking about food usually make you feel hungrier?

Sometimes. But the study I’m talking about at least suggests that thinking about eating a certain food over and over can help curb your appetite for that food. Maybe not always, but it’s an interesting start to research that could result in using imagination to eat less.

Read More:

  • Imagination Diet: Thinking About Eating Kills Cravings (ABC News)

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