Did you know there is a way to lose weight using only the power of your mind? It’s just a matter of knowing what to do. And, according to psychologists Eric Robinson, that ‘what’ is your memory, as appetite is formed in your mind as much as in your belly.
Robinson recently tested whether a recording, played during a meal, could help a group of obese women to eat some ham sandwiches more mindfully. The three-minute recording instructed them to focus on the full sensual experience of eating the meal – i.e. sight, taste and smell. Robison also had a control group who ate their meals to the pleasant sound of a cuckoo’s tuneful calls.
Robinson found that the women who were asked to savour their food snacked less for three hours after eating the meal, consuming 30 per cent fewer calories than the control group. That’s a big difference.
You might suspect that a healthy brain is smart enough to take notice of what you’ve eaten, but recent research shows it is easily fooled. And fooled it is with working lunches now being routine in most offices, and many people watching TV or playing with their devices and laptops during evening meals. All of these distractions can affect your memories of your food intake – not just what, but also how much.
In another study, performed by Jeff Brunstrom at the University of Bristol, participants ate with one hand while they played solitaire with the other. Because of this distraction, they struggled to recollect their meal, and pigged out on biscuits later in the day.
That’s why researchers are now looking into ways of boosting the sensory memory of food. Including Robinson, who is currently working on an app that helps to remind someone of their previous meals throughout their day.
Don’t worry. Robinson found that “attentive eating” did not reduce his subject’s enjoyment of eating, but rather that they actually seemed to find meals more enjoyable. He says, “It’s not unimaginable that savouring food could actually be a good thing.”
So mindful eating – i.e. paying attention to and recalling the aromas, textures, colours and flavours while eating your meal without distraction – is the mind game to play to curb hunger and prevent overeating.
Are you ready to play? Or are you still not convinced? Read more at the BBC.