Imagine Away Your Cravings to Lose Weight

Health & Wellness on 05.18.11
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Photo Credit: Katie Morton

There are some foods that I cannot keep in the house because they will disappear into the depths of my gullet in a greedy feeding frenzy. My desire for these foods overtakes sense and willpower, knocks their silly little heads together and leaves them for dead in a ditch.

It used to be peanut butter. I would stand in front of the pantry and eat it by the spoonful. I don't know when or how, but PB lost its charm. Now I can take it or leave it. I am going to guess that I wouldn't stand a chance against a tube of raw cookie dough, but I'm too afraid to entertain a food so dastardly in my home.

My current object of obsession is ice cream. I prefer the kind that forces me to excavate for sweets so that I continue to dig long past satiety. With another treat always poking up promisingly from the surface, the candies and ribbons of caramel beg to be rescued from their sweet, creamy grave. My solution to that issue is don't even buy it. If it's not here, then I can't eat it.

The Claim: Imagine Eating Your Favorite Foods to Blunt Cravings

Following an experiment on subjects with amnesia, researchers concluded that hunger has little to do with when or for how long people eat. Instead, Dr. Rozin and his colleagues write that the memory of eating is a far bigger influence.

Putting the Claim to the Test in the Real World

In a New York Times article, Henry Alford details his attempt at using his imagination to lose weight over the course of one month. Alford, who expresses his uninhibited affection for pastries and cheese, imagined eating his favorite foods rather than actually consuming them. He traveled to Berlin and Paris for an 11-day vacation, and while the Paris leg of the trip yielded pastries and cheeses too decadent to shun in real terms, Alford had better luck in Berlin.

Upon his return from the trip, he decided to get medieval on his own heiny for the remainder of the month. He ate low-calorie foods, frequently fruits or juices, while imagining they were forbidden indulgences.

The Results: a 10.2 Pound Loss

During the second half of the month with a vigorous effort at curbing real-life eating, Alford lost about a half pound per day. Alford uses the words "agonizing tedium" to describe the dieting technique, but then again, I can't think of too many diets that are a barrel of monkeys.

I'm considering giving this weird dieting method a shot. Since I avoid buying ice cream, it seems like a pointless exercise for that particular problem. However, maybe an imaginary plate of seconds when it came to last night's pasta dinner could have been a good place to start.

Katie Morton is the founder of The Monarch Company. Get a FREE copy of her eBook, 10 Steps to a Blissful You, to get started on developing extraordinary willpower for life.

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