Can just the way you perceive the food you are about to eat have an impact on how satisfied you will feel afterward? That’s what researchers at Yale University set out to find when they performed a new study.
The researchers measured levels of the hormone gherkin, which is released in the stomach as a response to hunger. When your blood contains high levels of the so-called “hunger hormone,” it sends your brain the signal that it wants food.
In the study, they took 46 volunteers between 18 and 35 years old. They were told that they were going to test two new milkshakes. One of them would be labeled high fat, 620-calorie “indulgent” milkshake, the other was a no-fat 140-calorie “sensi-shake,” for being a “sensible” choice. Thing is, both shakes had the same calorie content (380). In fact, they were the exact same french vanilla milkshakes, just in different packaging.
Amazingly, the volunteers’ levels of the hunger hormone was different, depending on their perception of what they were drinking. When they were anticipating a decedent treat, their gherkin levels dramatically increased in anticipation, which was followed by a steep decline afterward. This indicates that they were more satisfied by it.
The opposite reaction held true for the shake labeled as low-calorie and sensible.
“The mindset of ‘sensibility’ or ‘restraint’ when eating — no matter what we’re eating — might be compromising our body’s physiological response, counteracting our hard work at dieting,” says the study’s lead author Alia Crum, a clinical psychologist at Yale University.
While it may be easier said than done, Crum suggests trying to be in the mindset of indulging when you eat healthy foods.