How you can use your mind to lose weight
We're all probably familiar with that old saying, "Mind over matter." Well, turns out you could very well think yourself slim. Or rather remember your way to a smaller waistline.
Psychologist Eric Robinson found that memory is a great, albeit surprising, tool for weight loss. The BBC reports that Robinson recently tested how attentive eating can help curb overeating. For the study, two groups of obese women were asked to eat a ham sandwich. Group one listened to a short audio clip asking them to focus fully on the experience of their meal including what it looked, smelled and tasted like. Meanwhile, the second group ate with the sound of a cuckoo's calls playing in the background. (Yes, that was the alternative soundtrack.) The result: the mindful eaters (group 1) were not only able to give a more detailed description of their meal, but they also snacked less later.
While this might not work for everyone, an alternative technique from another experiment asked people to consciously remember what they ate earlier in the day, which seemed to decrease their likelihood of overeating later. And in a meta-analysis of 24 studies, Robinson and fellow researchers found that attentive eating can be useful alternative to calorie counting.
The BBC also notes that Robinson has an app in the works that will remind people to think about their previous meals throughout the day. He notes though that bigger clinical trials are still needed to test whether these memory tricks will help people to effectively monitor their weight. However, if the techniques work in the long term they'll provide a weight loss regimen that delivers results while actually enhancing the pleasure we receive from food.
Looking to give mindful eating a try? Dr. Brian Wansink, lead author of dozens of academic articles on eating behavior and bestseller Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think, found that our stomachs really only have three settings: we're either starving, stuffed or feel like we can eat more. He shares that most of the time we are in the middle-not hungry, but not full. However, if food is put in front of us we'll eat it. Sound familiar?
Here are some tips from Wansink to help you be more present during meal time. Another simple change that you can implement right now: keeping a food journal!
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