Thinking oneself thin might be impossible, but it turns out thinking oneself full may not be out of the question. A recent study suggests people may feel full faster if they believe they’re eating filling foodsMind over milkshakes: Mindsets not just nutrients, determine ghrelin response.. Crum AJ., Corbin WR., Brownell KD., et al. Health Psychology. May 2011..

Mind Over Platter – Analysis

MilkshakeIn the study, 46 participants were given a 380-calorie milkshake. Half the subjects were told the shake contained an indulgent 620 calories while the other half were led to believe the drink was a light 140 calories (sadly, there’s still no word on whether such a shake actually exists). Researchers found consumers of the “indulgent” shake experienced a steep decline in ghrelin, a hormone that triggers hungerMind over milkshakes: Mindsets not just nutrients, determine ghrelin response.. Crum AJ., Corbin WR., Brownell KD., et al. Health Psychology. May 2011.. Those who had the “light” shake, however, showed no change in ghrelin level. Ultimately, participants who believed the shake contained more calories reported feeling fuller than those who thought they were sipping something light.

It turns out people tend to associate foods they perceive as lighter in calories with a lack of satisfaction during meals, causing their ghrelin levels to hold steady during meal time. But before forgoing fruits in favor of milkshakes, remember that the study found a decrease in ghrelin levels, not a decrease in weight. Healthier foods are still tops when it comes to losing weight, but having a feel-full mentality at mealtime may make the journey to a slimmer waistline that much easier. Increasing protein intake, especially in the morning, may also help minimize overeating by triggering feelings of fullnessThe addition of a protein-rich breakfast and its effects on acute appetite control and food intake in ‘breakfast-skipping’ adolescents.. Leidy, HJ., Racki, EM. University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS. International Journal of Obesity 2010 Jul; 34(7):1125-33.. Taking time to enjoy a meal, be it alone or with friends, has also been shown to increase perceived fullnessEating slowly led to decreases in energy intake within meals in healthy women.. Andrade AM, Greene GW, Melanson KJ. University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI. Journal of the American Dietetics Association July 2008; 108(7): 1186-1191.

So before you drink some else’s milkshake, remember that with the right mentality and methods, there are plenty of options for filling up without filling out.

This study points out how our perceptions affect not only our behavior but also the chemistry of our appetite. Findings suggest we are very responsive to the information we are given. It would be difficult though to deceive yourself into believing a food is higher in calories than it is when the calorie information is available. However, in restaurant and other settings where calorie information is not available it may be helpful to make a blanket assumption that the food is high in calories so that you feel fuller and eat less. Another implication is that we may be vulnerable to overeating foods that are often perceived as “healthy” but actually have a lot of calories (e.g., granola, avocado, olive oil, smoothies, etc).



A new study suggests we can fight hunger by thinking ourselves full.