Mind over Milkshakes

The latest Bottom Line Health newsletter had the skinny on this amazing study on how our bodies react to “low-calorie” packaging. That label leaves you less satisfied – no matter what it’s actually on.

Researchers assembled two groups of volunteers and measured their blood levels of ghrelin, a hormone that tells your brain when you’ve had enough to eat. When your ghrelin levels drop, your stomach tightens, your body starts packing sugars into fats and you feel full. The scientists whipped up a big batch of this 380-calorie milkshake. And then they lied to their subjects.

One group was told, “Here, drink this, it’s an indulgent 620 calories.” The other, “Drink up, it’s a sensible 140-calorie shake.” You’d think their bodies would be able to tell the difference, even if their brains were fooled. But no. The “indulgent” group had a precipitous drop in ghrelin levels. They felt fat. The “sensible” group had almost no response. They were, in effect, ready for seconds – even though they’d consumed more than twice as many calories as they thought. Their bodies didn’t know they’d had enough.

In the scientist’s words:

Mindset meaningfully affects physiological responses to food.

Something to think about.