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Your mind-set does matter!

By Leesa Gabel

One of my favorite movies is Steel Magnolias. There’s a line that Dolly Parton says, “Smile. It increases your face value.” I say something similar to my kids; I tell them to smile because it immediately makes you feel better. The act of smiling changes your mind-set.

Over the weekend I realized that I’ve had a mind-set change with regards to dieting. I’m not dieting. I’ve made a lifestyle change. Because if I was dieting, I wouldn’t have had pumpkin pie, brownies, Grandma’s red jello, carrot cake or chocolate pie over our family’s 4-day Thanksgiving break.* The best part…when I weighed myself on Monday I had lost weight! I did go for a 3-mile walk Thursday morning, but that’s about as active as I got.

What helped me come to this realization was a small snippet in Good Housekeeping’s November issue (page49, Thick rich, Be thin). I did a little more research and found this:

Too busy to click the above link? Here’s the short version:

  • Objective: To test whether physiological satiation as measured by the gut peptide ghrelin may vary depending on the mindset in which one approaches consumption of food.
  • Methods: On 2 separate occasions, participants (n = 46) consumed a 380-calorie milkshake under the pretense that it was either a 620-calorie “indulgent” shake or a 140-calorie “sensible” shake. Ghrelin was measured via intravenous blood samples at 3 time points: baseline (20 min), anticipatory (60 min), and postconsumption (90 min). During the first interval (between 20 and 60 min) participants were asked to view and rate the (misleading) label of the shake. During the second interval (between 60 and 90 min) participants were asked to drink and rate the milkshake.
  • Results: The mindset of indulgence produced a dramatically steeper decline in ghrelin after consuming the shake, whereas the mindset of sensibility produced a relatively flat ghrelin response. Participants’ satiety was consistent with what they believed they were consuming rather than the actual nutritional value of what they consumed.
  • Conclusions: The effect of food consumption on ghrelin may be psychologically mediated, and mindset meaningfully affects physiological responses to food.

All the nutritional and exercise information I’ve gained over the years has finally started to click. I’ve come to appreciate food for what it’s meant to be – fuel for my body. I still find food pleasurable and I’m not deprieving myself of what I want and crave. It just so happens that my body is craving chicken, not beef and apples, not cookies. Don’t even get me started about my new-found love of Morningstar products (my mouth waters at the thought of the garden veggie burger). I’m making healthy choices, but finding that the healthy choices are still quite pleasurable.

I’m embracing a new mindset… I’m looking for the 620-calorie milkshake in every meal!


* I have to note that the serving sizes I had were small. I didn’t over-indulge. I had enough to satisfy my cravings. Sometimes a bite or two is all I need now of a favorite sweet food to satisfy my desire for it. Because, who doesn’t crave or desire a slice of pumpkin pie with whipped cream on Thanksgiving?