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Surprising Science

Deceive Yourself, Get Healthy

Looking to live healthier? 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.

What’s the Latest Development?

A group of Yale researchers at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity have found that lying to people about food can help them to lose weight. “The researchers found that those who thought they had just drank an indulgent 640-calorie milkshake had much, much lower ghrelin levels [a hormone in the blood that regulates appetite] 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.”

What’s the Big Idea?

Could people devise a scheme to deceive themselves, or rely on others to deceive them, about the nutritional benefits of their meal in order to have a healthier diet? “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.”


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