Use Your Imagination and Lose Weight!

by DavalosMcCormack on January 19, 2011

Just imagine, there is a wonderful luscious chocolate cake in front of you.  It’s fresh and it has soft creamy frosting dancing in swirls all over the top and the sides.  The chef didn’t skimp on anything and you have a slice of this delicious, delightful delicacy on a plate right in front of you. But that’s not all!

Along with this beautiful piece of cake is a dollop of french vanilla ice cream.  The ice

cream is just beginning to melt and some of the edges are dripping down the side of the cake.  You can see it and as you do you take up the fork and scoop a corner off the piece of cake you can see the tiny fragments of cake fall to the plate, and as you lift the fork you reach for just a little ice cream to add the lovely creamy cold flavor to the forkful of cake.

You bring the fork to your mouth and you can feel the sensation of cold from the ice cream and you detect the scent of the vanilla just before it hits your palate, quickly followed by the chocolate frosting, so rich and creamy, a lovely contrast to the taste of the cake, so light and smooth. You take the time to just experience the sensations in your mouth and you finally swallow.   Mmmmmmmm. wasn’t that wonderful?

All in the mind not the mouth

Guess what!  You didn’t gain a pound, but you enjoyed it completely, right?  That’s because it was in your imagination.  Did you begin to salivate?  So did I.

So if you have gone along and imagined with me and experienced eating the cake and ice cream with all your senses – taste, feel, smell, sound, sight – you actually experienced the food.  You actually fooled your mind into thinking that you did eat the cake and you enjoyed the cake.  It’s not all in the imagination. There is actually some solid science that says if you use your mind to “experience” the food, you are more likely to eat less of  it.

Mindful munching

There is a study done by Carnegie Mellon University, published in Science Magazine, that suggests that the more you imagine eating a certain food the less of that particular food you will actually eat.  Can you imagine that?  What an amazing diet. Just by imagining the food you crave you won’t crave it anymore.

M&M’s mmmmmm

The study involved 300 participants who did not know they were in a eating habits study.  They thought they were in an imagery and size perception study.  The control group imagined inserting 30 quarters into a laundry machine (in San Francisco we’d be putting them into a parking meter, but I digress). Another group was asked to imagine putting 30 quarters into the laundry machine and then imagine eating 3 M & M’s.  A third group was told to imagine putting 30 quarters into a laundry machine and then imagine eating 30 M & M’s one by one.  When they were through they were told the study was over, and each group was given a bowl of M & M’s, and invited to go ahead and  eat them.

Check this out, the people who imagined eating 30 M&M’s actually ate fewer than the participants in the other two groups!   The experiment was repeated with multiple cubes of cheese with the same results.  You can hear a podcast interview of Carnegie Mellon University’s assistant professor, Carey Morewedge by clicking here – he works in the social and decision sciences area.

It’s fascinating isn’t it to think that you can cut down your intake by just imagining eating too much!  But wait, Carey Morewedge says the study seems to show that people need to focus on certain foods and there is more work to be done on addictive beverages like alcohol or drugs in order to find out if people can seriously change their habits just by using their mind!

Imagine that!

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