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Think about food, and you'll eat less: study

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that the particular snack imagined becomes less appealing in real.

News18test sharma |

Updated:December 10, 2010, 4:48 PM IST
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Think about food, and you'll eat less: study
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that the particular snack imagined becomes less appealing in real.

London: Struggling to control your diet? Just think about eating your favourite food and it could make you eat less, says a new study.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh have carried out the study and found that if one imagines eating one's favourite snack, the real thing will become less appealing, the 'Daily Mail' reported.

In the study, volunteers were asked to visualize eating a large handful of M&Ms, one by one.

A second group was 'given' just three imaginary M&Ms to eat, while a third group was told to think about feeding a machine with coins, an action similar to popping sweets in the mouth. Next, the men and women were presented with a bowl of chocolates and told they could eat as many as they liked.

Those who had just imagined eating lots of the sweet treats got through only half as many of the real thing as the others, including those who had thought about eating just two or three. This suggests that repetition is key to the effect.

Other experiments showed that in order to curb appetite, the volunteers had to imagine eating the sweets, simply visualising placing them in a bowl one by one did nothing to tackle hunger.

Only the food that is thought about becomes less appetising, so thinking about chocolate biscuits won't stop you from tucking into chips, say the researchers.

"People tend to try to avoid eating unhealthy foods by suppressing their thoughts of them. That tends to be a flawed strategy because it suggests you are going to stay in the initial state of craving, whereas our research suggests that repeatedly imagining the consumption of a food seems to decrease one's appetite for it.

"So they might be better off imagining consuming the foods," the researchers wrote in 'Science' journal.

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