Mind over Milk Shakes


Ever notice that when you clean-up your eating habits you start to get hungry more often during the day?

It’s true, cutting calories beyond a certain amount will cause your gut and brain to send signals enticing you to consume more food.

However, another potential reason for the hunger could be attitude.

What does your attitude toward food have to do with hunger?

According to behavioural research, a lot.

The way you view your food has a direct impact on satiety – the satisfaction from eating. That is exactly what researchers found when they lied to participants about the milkshake they were drinking.

Hey I know it’s not nice to lie, but it was in the name of science.

In this fascinating research, on two separate occasions participants received a 380-calorie milkshake. On one occasion researchers informed the participants they were consuming a 620-calorie milkshake, and on the other occasion they were told that they were consuming a 140-calorie shake.

The researchers also added specific influencing descriptors to each of the shakes. The 620-calorie shake was presented as “indulgent” and the 140-calorie shake was presented as the “sensible” option.

To measure the individual’s responses to consuming each shake, researchers measured ghrelin which is a hunger hormone, at three different points: baseline, prior to consumption and post consumption.

Remember, participants were presented with falsified nutrition information and description of the shake they were about to drink. One being indulgent and high-calorie. The other being “sensible” and low-calorie.

Here is the truly amazing finding...

Ghrelin production usually reduces after the consumption of a big meal as we feel satisfied.

After individuals consumed the fake “indulgent” high-calorie shake they showed a steep decline in ghrelin concentrations. In other words, participants made themselves feel satisfied!

After consuming the fake “sensible” low-cal shake, individuals showed very little change in ghrelin levels. In other words, they made themselves feel not satisfied.

Remember that both shakes were actually exactly the same in every way including calorie content.

This research shows clearly how much your mind can influence your attitude, choices and ultimately your results from any eating plan.

If you head in with a ‘diet mind set’ - feeling you are depriving yourself and missing out, your brain will probably drive the production of hormones that increase your desire for more food!

Source: Health Psychology, 2020.

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