Looking to shed some weight and take part in a massive act of self-deception? You can't fool your stomach into feeling full. However, you can fool your brain into enjoying healthy fruits and vegetables as much as high-fat indulgences.
Image via Foodbeast.
It sounds maniacal, but a group of Yale researchers discovered that lying to people about food actually helps them lose weight.
The satiety of a food - how satisfied it leaves you, in other words - plays a big role in whether you're going to keep eating or not. But a food's perceived satiety might be quite different from how much it actually fills you up. The trick is to convince yourself that the low-fat, not particularly filling foods are actually rare treats that are just chock full of empty calories.
This comes from research at Yale's Rudd centre for Food Policy and Obesity. They designed an experiment where two groups were given the same 380-calorie milkshake. Half were told the milkshake was just 140 calories, while the other half thought it was 640 calories. The researchers then examined the subjects' ghrelin levels, which is a hormone found in the blood that deals with hunger. When you're just about to eat, your ghrelin levels are high, and they're low again once you've finished your meal.
The researchers found that those who thought they had just drank an indulgent 640-calorie milkshake had much, much lower ghrelin levels than those that thought they had drank the 140-calorie shake. In fact, the ghrelin levels barely changed at all for that latter group, suggesting they were reasonably likely to keep eating.
Since biochemistry does have such a tangible effect on one's appetite, the question now is whether this can be used to help people diet. The actual applications might sound a bit ridiculous - as Discoblog suggests, you might have to try "berating yourself for eating celery sticks in an effort to make them seem more luxurious and satisfying".
Admittedly, this study doesn't actually show whether people can fool themselves into misjudging the calories in a meal to the extent that it alters ghrelin levels. Conning yourself into weight loss might require assembling an army of helpers, all tasked with keeping you constantly unsure of just how much you're actually eating. That sounds more than a little insane...but honestly, as far as diets go, it's one of the more sensible ones I've heard of.