Sororities have chants, religious institutions have hymns, and psychologists coach personal mantras. These all believe in the power of your mind to alter your perspective. With chants, literature, discussion groups, you can change the way you view just about anything. The power of the mind has helped people quit smoking, recover from the trauma of abuse, overcome depression and countless other life-transformative successes. Why can’t your mind have the power over your body to lose weight? Well, maybe it can. And there seem to be a good number of trends and methods out there that support this idea.
Thinking About Snacking? Think Again. And Again. And Again.
A study in the journal Science found that thinking about eating food will actually make you eat less of it. Now you’re probably thinking “then why does my mouth water when I watch the food channel?” And the answer is this—that when you read an article or watch a show about food, you are not actually thinking about the act of eating the food. That banana caramel French toast or tender brisket accompanied with garlic mashed potatoes (see, I’m making your mouth water now aren’t I) probably enters and leaves your thoughts in a matter of seconds. But if you were to actually think in detail about the act of eating that food, putting as much time into the thought of the eating as the actual act of eating would have taken, your mouth may dry up.
The study had volunteers imagine eating 30 M&M’s. Actually sitting and thinking about placing each one in their mouths, chewing and swallowing. When those participants were presented with the long-awaited chocolate-covered rewards, they ate half as many M&M’s as the volunteers asked only to think about eating a few M&M’s.
This evidence sheds some light on the popularity of other mind-managing diet methods.
From Pantry To PC
Support groups, online or in person, have gained enormous popularity. For many attendees, a support group can be the instant fix that averts that binge. The act of going from the fridge to the computer just to look at anything removes you from the temptation of a binge. Going specifically to an online support group can suppress feelings of loneliness (a HUGE provocateur for mindless munching) and hearing the success stories of others struggling with the same desire to overeat shows that it IS possible to kill the craving.
Another popularized diet aid is the food diary. One study found that dieters keeping a food diary 6 days a week lost TWICE as much weight as those keeping the diary once a week or less. Why? Same as with the online support groups, it is the act of removing yourself from the food. Many journal-keepers say that having to sit down to write down each bite makes the snack no longer worth it.
Hoax or Helpful?
One technique that banks on your brain is hypnosis. While hypnosis for dieting (and for just about anything) has been questioned and criticized, he idea behind it is really quite simple. Hypnosis puts the brain in a highly relaxed state. When a person is relaxed, he is more open to suggestions and alterations. Remember how you would only ask your parents for money after their second or third glass of wine? You get the picture. Well while hypnotized, a person hoping to lose weight is prompted to say things like “I no longer crave sugar at night time. I now find fruits and vegetables very appetizing.” While only 15% of the nation’s population is actually hypnotizable, for those who are, hypnosis can help in significant weight loss.
There is weight-loss advice out there about easy workout machines, exercises you can do at home, or even workouts masked as fun activities like car washing a car or playing with your puppy. But the secret to serious results may be all in your head.