Telling someone to think about food when they are on a diet doesn't sound the most sensible thing to do. In fact most people find that if they think about food they are more likely to want to eat it.

However, if you think about food in the right way it can actually reduce the amount you eat. I have been asking my hypnotherapy weight loss clients to imagine eating chocolate, cake and biscuits for a long time as a way of reducing cravings.

Then I read some scientific research where people were asked to imagine eating chocoloate and they found that when they were then given the opportunity to eat chocolate they ate less than those who hadn't imagined eating chocolate. The same thing happened with cheese as well. (Thought for Food: Imagined Consumption Reduces Actual Consumption, 2010)

Another study asked people to imagine eating chocolate flavoured foods, focusing on all the sensations they would experience. Then they were asked to choose the size of a chocolate brownie and soft drink. Thhose who imagined eating chose smaller portions than the control group and they enjoyed those portions just as much. (Pleasure as a Substitute for Size: How Multisensory Imagery Can Make People Happier with Smaller Food Portions, 2014)

So why did my clients and the people in these studies think about food and eat less when most people want to eat more? The difference is in the way you think about the food. It is important to focus in on all the sensations related to eating that food. What does it smell like, what does it feel like, what does it taste like? By thinking about the whole experience you are triggering the release of some of the same chemicals that would be there if you were really eating that food and enjoying it.

Rather than simply thinking about the food in an unavailable way and focusing on the feelings you get when you know you shouldn't eat it, instead you are getting all the feelings of satisfaction and enjoyment that you usually associate with that food.

You can try this yourself as a way to combat cravings. Find somewhere quiet. Close your eyes and imagine all the sensations you get when you eat your favourite food. If you find it difficult to start off with then take a small mouthful first so that you have something to use as a reference.

Then take an imaginary mouthful, slowly chewing and enjoying the experience. You can keep doing that until you feel totally satisfied. Most people find it takes no more than 5 minutes.

Author's Bio: 

Sharon Stiles has combined her experience of hypnotherapy for weight loss with reading scientific research about imaginary food. She has created a range of audio tracks that help you to enjoy your favourite snack as often as you like without any calories.