You may have been on a diet at some stage in your life and your diet may not have been successful. If not, I am sure you know someone who has had this experience. Dieting requires a lot of effort and it is very frustrating when it does not produce big enough results or when the effects disappear as soon as you stop the diet.
I have always believed that fat was a result of heavy thoughts, because the mind is a powerful thing. Now, I have the research to back it up.
The show “You are what you eat” showed people they had full responsibility over what they ate. I think they can call it “You are what you think”, because a recent research discovered that our thoughts have a direct impact on what we eat – we gain weight when we have “fat thoughts”.
In recent times, “light” became a keyword for food shoppers. We are convinced that in order to be healthy we need to eat “light” food – no fat, no calories, no sugar, no salt, etc. Well, our body reacts badly to it. The more we try to be healthy, the harder it is to lose weight.
Why is that?
In a research done in Yale with the really cool name Mind over milkshakes: Mindsets, not just nutrients, determine Ghrelin response, participants were given milkshakes with 380 calories. Each participant was given the same 380-calorie milkshake on two different occasions – once, they were told that it was “The 140-calorie Sensible Shake” and the other time, they were told it was “The 620-calorie Indulgent Shake”.
Their blood was sampled three times, 20 minutes before drinking the milkshake – this was the baseline – and twice more at the 60-minute and 90-minute marks. Each time, the blood test measured the gut peptide Ghrelin, which creates the feeling of hunger. The more Ghrelin you have, the hungrier you are.
The participants were also asked to rate their satisfaction and their answers were consistent with what they thought they were drinking. They rated the “Sensible” shake as 7 times healthier, but enjoyed the “Indulgent” shake much more and found it far more satisfying.
Surprisingly, those who believed their milkshake was the “Sensible” low-calorie shake also showed an increase in their Ghrelin levels, meaning they were hungrier after having the shake than those who thought they were drinking a 620-calorie milkshake. Their body agreed with their mind.
This research had some conclusions I think everyone should be aware of:
- What we think about our food has a strong impact on our feeling of hunger and satisfaction.
- What we think about our food has a stronger impact on our body than the nutritional value of the food does.
- Over time, the thought that healthy food contains fewer calories makes people believe their food is not satisfying and they feel hungrier after they eat it.
How to raise kids with “light” thoughts
(you can use them on yourself too)
- Stop counting calories. Make sure your kids do not see you paying attention to calories. Counting calories may be a good technique for people to manage their diet, but if they believe their food is not satisfying, they want to eat more.
- Do not talk to your kids about dieting. Even if you are avoiding things or changing your eating habits, do not call this “a diet”. The mind associates dieting with avoidance and with prevention of joy and satisfaction, which will backfire. Dieting only links bad feelings with food, which is a pleasurable and necessary part of life.
- Advertising low-calorie food as healthy can trick us into buying it, but it cannot trick our body into thinking it is good for us.
- Tell your kids their body is wise and will make them eat as much as they need. Teach them to listen to their body and pay attention to the signs of “fullness”, “hunger” and “thirst”. When we listen to our body, we notice when we eat too much.
- Teach your kids that every person is different and what is good for one may not be good for others, so they need to find what is good for them.
- Teach your kids the concepts of “balance” and “moderation”. It is OK to eat junk food from time to time. It is OK to drink fizzy, colorful and sweet drinks from time to time. It is OK to bring take-away food home from time to time. However, moderation is the name of the game and most of their food should be nutritious.
- Continual dieting is a form of eating disorder. It is better to have kids who are a bit overweight than to create an eating disorder, which is much harder to fix later on. If your kids have to lose some weight, do not call it a diet. Present it as a new way of eating for the whole family. Dieting should never be seen as punishment (for eating too much or not eating “right”), so if you are not 100% sure a change of eating habits will do the trick, do not start.
- Teach your kids to enjoy food and not to be afraid of food. Food is not an enemy. Joy goes together with satisfaction. Sugar and fat cravings increase with stress, so when you are satisfied and relaxed, you do not eat too much.
Be happy. That is the lightest thought ever!