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Weight Loss Psychology: Seek Satisfaction, Get Thin

Psych Yourself Slimmer

When it comes to eating, Mick Jagger was wrong - you CAN get satisfaction and stay slim, too!  Recent research at Yale University, published online in Health Psychology, showed that when you believe a food is filling and satisfying, it will be.  When you are satiated, you are less likely to overeat.


If the whole cookie was only the size of the bite, would you feel more satiated?

The research studied the effects of one’s mindset, or attitude, on ghrelin levels.  As you may recall from my previous posts, High Satiety Part I and Part II, ghrelin is the hormone that sends hunger signals to our brain.  High ghrelin levels drive cravings to binge; conversely, low ghrelin levels mean physiological satisfaction.

In the study participants drank a 380-calorie vanilla milkshake in two different packages.  One milkshake was labeled “heaven in a bottle,” a 620-calorie “indulgent” shake.  The other milkshake was labeled as a “140-calorie sensi-shake.” The results showed that ghrelin levels stayed the same or slightly increased after the sensi-shake was consumed, suggesting little satiety.  When participants consumed the “indulgent” shake, ghrelin levels steeply increased, demonstrating craving, followed by a quick decrease in ghrelin levels, showing SATISFACTION.

Bottom line: if you tell yourself that your meal is satisfying, it will be and you will not be tempted to overdo it.

Another similar study in Psychological Reports: Human Resources & Marketing, showed that lighting and music can also affect food consumption.  In this study, researchers Brian Wansink and Dr. Koert Van Ittersum examined if changing the atmosphere of a fast food restaurant would change how much food patrons consume. To do so a part of Hardee's fast food restaurant in Illinois received a fine-dining makeover. With soft lighting and soft jazz playing, part of it was transformed into a fine dining environment. Participants were randomly selected to eat in either the unchanged part of the restaurant or the fine-dining part. The amount of time spent eating and the amount of food consumed was unobtrusively recorded and participants were asked to rate the quality of the food before leaving. The results showed participants in the fine-dining part ate less food and rated the food as more enjoyable, showing that atmosphere can change food consumption and food satisfaction!


Setting can affect the amount of food consumption.

So make a humble meal of soup and a sandwich at home a satisfying repast by simply dimming the lights, playing some smooth jazz or classical music, and slowly savoring your meal.  No waiter required. Bon apettit!