I found this article from sciencedaily.com which showed evidence from a trial suggesting that imagining the consumption of a particular food can lead to a decreased consumption of that specific food when given the opportunity.

Put in short, the trial saw subjects grouped, with some being told to imagine placing coins into a laundry matt machine, while others were told to imagine consuming M&Ms. All subjects were then given a bowl of M&Ms, and what was found was that those they had been thinking about the consumption of the M&Ms over and over again, actually consumed less than the other groups. 

The explanation put forward was the process of habituation- a gradual reduction in motivation to eat more of the food — rather than alternative psychological processes such as creating a change in the perception of the food’s taste.

Specifically, the experiments demonstrated that only imagining the consumption of the food reduced actual consumption of the food. Merely thinking about the food repeatedly or imaging the consumption of a different food did not significantly influence the actual consumption of the food that participants were given.

“Habituation is one of the fundamental processes that determine how much we consume of a food or a product, when to stop consuming it, and when to switch to consuming another food or product,”

These findings showed that habituation is not only a result of sensory inputs such as sight, smell, sound and touch, but also by how the consumption experience is mentally represented.

Have you mentally played the picture of eating your favourite chocolate bar over and over again in your head today? I can’t believe as a dietitian I am about to say this, but maybe you should!? Have you got any evidence (real life evidence will do) that goes against what this article is saying?

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