The mind is a funny thing, one that science still doesn’t fully understand. The complex network of electrical signals and relays can do some pretty crazy things, such as making you hungry when you’re actually tired or thirsty, or compel you to eat food when you’re not hungry at all. Understanding the role the mind plays in weight loss and gain is the key to effective weight loss!
According to a study out of the Yale School of Medicine, a vivid imagination could be the reason that you are overweight! How is this possible?
The participants in this study were asked to rate how vivid of an imagination they had. The researchers gave all of the participants in the study three questionnaires. The questionnaires focused on different things: one focused on more general topics, the second focused on food, and the third asked about the smell of food.
The participants who had the best ability to perceive food odors and aromas had a much higher chance of having a high BMI. There was a direct correlation between people’s BMI and their perceived ability to smell those foods in their mind.
For example, think about your favorite food. Let’s say pizza, in this case. You can smell that cheesy goodness, complete with the tomato sauce, thick crust, spices, and even that fatty scent rising from the still-hot cheese. If you’re like many of the people in the study above, you can probably almost smell that scent.
The human imagination is a vivid thing, though for some it has more capacity than others. Those who have a more vivid imagination are more likely to have a heavier waistline. Of course, this study only proves that there is a link between the two, though it doesn’t establish exactly what the correlation is or how it will affect everyone.
But think about it: if you can picture the scent (and taste) of food, you’re more likely to want to actually eat that food again so you can enjoy that delicious smell (and taste). For example, just the thought of the smell of sizzling bacon is enough to make your mouth water, and you probably are racking your brain to see if you have any bacon in the fridge at this very moment.
Mental imagery plays a big role in food cravings. When you get a craving for a specific food item, it’s usually because you saw something that made you think of that food. Your brain remembers the feeling of enjoyment when you last ate that food, and you want that “happy” feeling again. This is the basic mechanism of food cravings, and it all begins with the mental image of you enjoying the flavor of that food.
But the picture alone isn’t enough to really make you want something. Both taste and smell will drive that mental image, increasing your desire for that food item and causing you to feel that craving much harder. Your olfactory sense is one of the strongest of your senses, and thus the link between the remembered scent of food and your desire to eat it.
This is why it’s so true that “the battle for weight loss begins in your mind”. If you can get control over your mind and your thoughts, it will be much easier for you to resist the temptation to eat. Your vivid imagination may make you a more creative person, but it can definitely make it harder for you to lose weight. Time to get your thoughts under a tight rein and keep them from dwelling on the taste and smell of your favorite foods!