Weight Loss Psychology: The Correct Mindset for Easier Dieting


The phrase “It’s all in your mind” carries a grain of truth when it comes to weight loss. Several studies have proven there are connections between how we think and how we eat. Examining two different studies shows us there is more of a correlation between mindset and weight loss than previously believed. Examining food and exercise in a different light can improve your lifestyle and help you get fit.

Love the food you’re with

The Science: Recently, a Yale study has found that participants in a study who perceived a milkshake to be 620 calories felt more full than the ones who drank a shake they were told was 140 calories, though both groups were drinking the same 380 calorie milkshake. The study hinged on measuring ghrelin levels, a hormone shown to be in the abdomen when people feel hunger. Ghrelin appears before a meal and lessens or goes away after eating.

Make it work: Lie to yourself. Don’t count calories closely. Think of every food you eat as being an indulgence. That 100 calorie pack of Oreos is a lot more filling when you take a few minutes to think of how generous you’re being with yourself. It’s hard to straight up convince yourself that carrot stick is 500 calories, but appreciating its flavor and sweetness will help you feel more full. You can also use it to cut portions of desserts and even meals. Feeling more full will help you make smarter choices at the vending machines and avoid empty calories.

Appreciate what you do

The Science: In 2006, noted Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer studied a group of 84 hotel employees who claimed they didn’t exercise, even though they were cleaning rooms daily. She told half the group that their work was exercise, and went into detail about how cleaning and pushing a heavy cart all day was similar to working out. After a month, that group had lost weight and lowered their blood pressure. They all said they had exercised the same or less than they had before, and they were still eating the same. The control group that hadn’t had the discussion actually gained weight.

Make it work: Examine what you do daily. If you’re in retail, chances are good you’re running around carrying items all day. Consider the amount of lifting, walking and stretching you do. Realize it all counts as exercise. Those with desk jobs get exercise in their own ways as well. Walking across a large parking lot, grocery shopping and doing housework all burns calories and can be a part of your healthy lifestyle. Appreciating what you’re already doing will contribute to your weight loss on its own, and it can make you more aware of what you’re doing as a side benefit. Use your newly found appreciation for small amounts of exercise to encourage yourself to park in the back of the mall lot or to use the vacuum more often.


  1. Hotel Maids Challenge the Placebo Effect : NPR.
  2. Mind over milkshakes: Mindsets, not just nutrients… [Health Psychol. 2011] – PubMed result.
  3. Mindfulness—the unconventional research of psychologist Ellen Langer | Harvard Magazine Sep-Oct 2010.
  4. To Keep to Your Diet, Pretend You’re Constantly Breaking It | Discover Magazine.


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