Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A miracle!

Right now, I am visualizing eating 30 Twizzlers sticks. Weird huh? But this simple technique could just make me eat less food and stop my craving for Twizzlers. Could this be the magic bullet I need to shed unwanted pounds?

In a recent study at Carnegie Mellon University, published in Science, they divided a group into three:
* Group A visualized eating 30 M&Ms (easy!), and putting 3 quarters into a washing machine.
* Group B visualized eating 3 M&Ms (impossible), and putting 30 quarters into a washing machine.
* Group C imagined inserting 33 quarters into a washing machine (no M&Ms!).

This is the part I love: All study groups were then told to eat as many M&Ms as they wanted. And guess which group ate less M&Ms? Those that visualized eating 30 M&Ms.

Visualization is the key here. The study found that merely thinking about food does nothing. But when you visualize eating the food, you eat less. The researchers call this habituation — a gradual reduction in motivation to eat more of the food. If it works, I call this a miracle.

Joachim Vosgerau, assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon and one of the study leads, explains: "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. Our findings show that habituation is not only governed by the sensory inputs of sight, smell, sound and touch, but also by how the consumption experience is mentally represented. To some extent, merely imagining an experience is a substitute for actual experience. The difference between imagining and experiencing may be smaller than previously assumed."

I sort of tried this out. I say sort of, because it's 5 a.m., not the usual time I start craving Twizzlers. But I closed my eyes, imagined myself opening the package, and eating 30 Twizzler sticks -- more than my daily allotment of PointsPlus. I ate each one bite by bite, and I really have no desire to eat any Twizzlers. But again, it's 5 a.m. I can't wait to try this the next time a Twizzlers bag is calling my name.

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