To Prevent Yourself From Overeating, Think About Overeating

By Andrew Moseman | December 10, 2010 11:11 am

M&MWhat can eating M&Ms—or, rather, thinking about eating M&Ms—tell us about overeating?

From Ed Yong:

The more we expose ourselves to a something, the more we get used to it. This process, known as ‘habituation’, applies to all sorts of things – bright lights, level of wealth and, yes, the taste of food. The first bite of chocolate is heavenly but the fifteenth usually feels less so. Now, Carey Morewedge from Carnegie Mellon University has found that people habituate to the taste of food even if they just imagine themselves eating it.

He asked 51 recruits to imagine either eating 33 M&Ms one at a time; putting 33 quarters into a laundry machine; or inserting 30 quarters and then eating 3 M&Ms. Afterwards, everyone was given a bowl containing 40 grams of real M&Ms, and allowed to snack to their hearts’ content. On average, Morewedge found that everyone who imagined shoving quarters ate around 4 grams of candy, while those who stuffed their imaginary faces ate around half as much.

Check out the rest of this post—with subsequent M&M experiments—at Not Exactly Rocket Science.

Related Content:
Not Exactly Rocket Science: People who think they are more restrained are more likely to succumb to temptation
DISCOVER: How to Make Your Friends Fat (PHOTOS)
80beats: Cheesecake Is Like Heroin to Rats on a Junk-Food Diet

Image: flickr / FlyNutAA

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Mind & Brain
MORE ABOUT: brain, cravings, food, overeating
  • nick

    So what does this experiment really prove?

    That science is DELICIOUS.

  • scott

    dont know what it proves, but anything to stop obesity……the country is filled with tens of millions of all consuming fat storage units sucking up all resources and yet the public salivates over religious issues and whether a dude gets married to a dude in SF….overheard a discussion at cracker barrel restaurant in kingman arizona last month – a big 400 lb diabetic munches on a pie complaining about a gay guy in the military (who is risking his life protecting her obese butt from being stuffed into a burqua and beat with a stick).

    lesson – i should have invested in big pharma companies that make diabetic drugs and products. maybe i can still get in on some shares?

  • Science Butcher

    4 grams versus 2 grams? I think your units or numbers are out of whack. 4 grams is puny. PUNY, DO YOU HERE ME HUMANS? I eat chocolate every day; 4 grams is less than my lungs inhale in chocolate dust.

    Don’t tell Scott, though.

  • Joy Gibat

    I remember when I had very little money, I would often read several recipes and then I wouldn’t be hungry. Or even reading a menu could have same effect, if I didn’t have the money for the meal, it would be easy to decide that I wasn’t that hungry or that they were charging too much.


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