Does changing how people think influence their eating behaviour?
Many people aspire to eat more healthily, although there are various psychological obstacles that prevent them from doing so. We examined whether changing how people think might influence them to eat differently. In one set of studies we manipulated whether people thought about the present or the future, and found that those who thought about the future ate fewer chocolates if they themselves were heavier (i.e., had a relatively high BMI). In another set of studies, we manipulated how people thought about food images – whether they thought about the sensory qualities of the food, or whether they thought about their reactions to the food in a mindful way (i.e., thinking about their reactions to the food as temporary constructs of the mind), and compared these two types of thinking to a passive viewing control condition. We found that thinking about food in a deliberate way reduced people’s desire to eat food and their actual food consumption under particular circumstances.