Mind Over Munchies?
Can your beliefs and expectations regarding what you are about to eat have a tangible physiological effect on your appetite? Or is it just a matter of some straightforward math as to calories in and your level of satisfaction? The placebo effect is where someone's positive belief about a medication or other form of treatment initiates a healing response even though that intervention is not actually proven to be effective on its own. It is now known placebos are not just a matter of people being tricked into wellness as was once believed. In response to thought processes, the mind and body produces a host of powerful biochemical reactions. For example, the belief a sugar pill will combat pain will trigger the body to
produce endorphins, the self-produced version of morphine. Yet it seems that the inner mechanism that allows placebos to work is not limited to medical treatments. Research suggests your thoughts about what you are about to eat has an important effect as well. In a study at Yale, a group of volunteers were fed a 380 calorie milkshake on 2 separate occasions. One half of the participants were given a label that read that their shake was "indulgent" and contained 620 calories. The other half received a label stating the shake was "sensible" and had only 140 calories. Their levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite was measured 3 times. The first was during the time they read the label, the second as they drank the shake and a third reading was done afterward. The result was that those drinking the indulgent shake had a steep decline in ghrelin (which would lead to reduced hunger) while the "sensible" group had a relatively flat response, meaning they would most likely feel just as hungry afterward. This result led the researchers to conclude that the effect of food consumption on ghrelin levels may have a strong psychological component. What can you possibly take away from this? One possibility is that cultivating the practice eating mindfully and with a sense of enjoyment and appreciation may be much more effective in reducing appetite than just obsessing on calorie counts. The "biology of fun" is quite real! Please feel free to connect if you would like to learn more about the hypnosis and health coaching services offered at this office. I can be reached at (732) 714-7040 and would love to discuss your healthier future. Bon apetit!
Reference for this article: Crum, A.J. et al. (2011) Mind over milkshakes: Mindsets, not just nutrients determine ghrelin response. Health Psychology, 30, 4, 424-429.