I’ve had a few injuries in my time, but one of the worst was my knee about ten years ago. Every time I walked, I imagined the pain I would feel, and how I was making the injury worse. In the end, a specialist suggested that the injury had cleared up long ago and that the pain was only in my head. The way to get over it, he told me, was to start believing that I was healed. Soon after our chat, the pain was gone. Even when my pain wasn’t real, my belief in it made me feel it.
If beliefs manifesting as physical sensations seems far-fetched, looking at the research proves it’s very true. In one study, students were given plain tonic water but were told their drinks had vodka in them. After a few fake drinks, they flirted more, were more suggestible, and showed signs of actual physical drunkenness. Their beliefs, again, affected them physically.
If you’ve lost weight, you’ll know that fat loss equals a certain amount of hunger. For most people, however, that’s not the only symptom they’ll feel. Before working with me, many of my clients will talk about how weight loss affects their sleep, how well they can concentrate at work, and what their mood might be like. However, just like my knee pain and a bunch of students getting squiffy on tonic water weren’t real things, your beliefs around the negative side effects of dieting dictate what you’ll feel.
While accepting that hunger is part of the process of losing a meaningful chunk of weight, our beliefs can still impact just how much hunger we feel.
- A researcher called Crum set out to study whether mindset makes a difference to physical hunger.
- In the study, people were given a 380 calorie milkshake on two separate occasions.
- On time they were told it was a 140 calorie “sensible” shake, the other time they were told they were having a 620 calorie “indulgent” shake.
- Although the shakes were the same, people reported being hungrier after the “sensible” shake, and fuller and more satisfied after the “indulgent” shake.
- While tricking people like that doesn’t sound too out of the ordinary, the feelings of hunger didn’t just manifest psychologically.
- After measuring a satiety hormone called ghrelin, the researchers found that the levels of the hormone differed after each milkshake, being lower after the “indulgent” shake and staying stable after what they were told was the “sensible” one.
- While the expectation of how full you’d feel might impact perceived hunger, this is proof that your beliefs actually result in physiological changes too.
Feeling hungry, although clearly made worse by mindset, is a real concern on a diet. Poor sleep, concentration, and mood, on the other hand, are all in the mind.
- People in the study were split into two groups and given a diet containing either 2294 or 313 calories for two days.
- While it might seem easy to tell between the two diets, the foods were in the form of a gel designed to have the same consistency and flavour, despite some of it having next to no calories.
- As you might expect, the people consuming 313 calories felt hungrier than the other group.
- However, their mood, sleep quality, and concentration didn’t differ from the higher calorie group.
Being distracted, unable to focus, or unable to concentrate at work are all mentioned regularly as occurring when people try to lose weight. However, skipping breakfast doesn’t negatively affect concentration, and it takes more than 24 hours of fasting before cognition is even remotely affected.
If you’re anything like me, you will have felt extremely grumpy due to a lack of food before, but this short-term “hanger” is just a passing feeling. Being in a calorie deficit doesn’t negatively affect overall mood.
- At the beginning of a diet, mood changes a little bit, but this drops back to normal after a brief transition. This is something I can relate to. At first, I go through a period of pain au raisin grief, where the realisation that I have quite as much of my favourite pastries hits me. After a week of getting to grips with it, I’m good.
- Even soldiers undergoing intense training while in a calorie deficit don’t see a change in their normal mood.
Just because you’re in a bad mood now, doesn’t mean that you’ll be in one for the rest of your diet. Eating fewer calories isn’t always fun, but that doesn’t mean to say that you’ll be hangry until you reach your goal weight.
At some point, losing weight will make you hungry, but it doesn’t affect your concentration, sleep quality, or mood. Don’t trick yourself into thinking losing weight is harder than it needs to be.
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