Can Your Thoughts Fool Your Stomach?

Maylin Rodriguez-Paez RN

You know that dreaded feeling you get right before you bite into a doughnut? It might actually work for you. At least that’s what the results of this research imply.

In a recent study, researchers gave two groups of people each a milkshake and measured their responses.

The results were rather unexpected, giving new meaning to the idea of “mindful eating.”

Let’s get into the study, shall we?

Thinking You’re Eating Lots of Calories Lowers a Hunger Hormone

In a clever study, scientists measured the psychological effects of food consumption on levels of ghrelin, a hunger hormone. Researchers formed two groups of study subjects and then gave each participant a milkshake.

One group was told their milkshake (called Sensible) contained 140 calories. The other group was told their milkshake (called Indulgent) contained 620 calories. In reality, all of the milkshakes contained 380 calories, but the participants were unaware of this fact. Ghrelin levels were measured on three separate occasions.

The results were interesting. The group that drank the “Indulgent” shake had a steeper decrease in the ghrelin levels than the “Sensible” group. Drops in ghrelin levels reduce appetite. The Sensible group had relatively flat ghrelin levels.1

Can You Think the Calories Away?

Is how you feel about your food just as important as its nutrient content? Not exactly, but this study suggests that our feelings do matter. While we can’t exactly “wish away” the calories or the pounds, we can influence our bodies with our thoughts.

Being realistic about what we’re eating is useful and so is understanding the nutrient content. In a sense, we can prep our bodies with our thoughts before we eat. But until we know more about this mind-body-placebo effect, we’re left with being … practical.

Balancing Hunger Hormones is Important for Weight Loss

While this study hints at the powerful effects of mind over matter, it also stresses the importance of hunger hormones. The whole notion of calories in minus calories out, while still valid, is too simplistic. For optimal weight loss, hunger hormones should be addressed.

This is a whole new field in the pharmaceutical world. Drugs and even vaccines are being developed, all in an effort to control hunger hormones. But lucky for us, nature has given us a variety of tools.

Natural and safe appetite-suppressing nutrients are available. One that is gaining popularity is called Borlotto bean extract. In clinical trials, it has been shown to lower ghrelin levels, support weight loss, and even lower blood sugar levels.2-3


  1. Health Psychol. 2011 Jul;30(4):424-9; discussion 430-1. doi: 10.1037/a0023467.
  2. Br J Nutr. 2013 May;109(10):1789-95.
  3. Irvine3 Vascular Laboratories & Microcirculation. Analysis of the results obtained from use of product Beanblock® in the treatment of overweight, 2013.


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