Ever had a cake placed in front of you and you couldn’t resist it? When I was dieting I couldn’t help my self. Cake, biscuits, donuts, they were all so tempting. It would be so tempting and I would eat it. I was never able to keep chocolate or biscuits in the cupboard at home. They would call to me and I would eat the whole packet. Sound familiar? It turns out that obesity is related to how well we can resist these high calorie foods. The term for this is delayed discounting, which is our impulsitivity for eating high calorie foods. But future thinking can help to resist food.
Future Thinking and Eating
How is it possible to resist these delicious looking, tempting foods? One study set out to find a method for resisting high calorie foods by looking at future thinking Researchers divided participants into two groups. One group had to visualise a nonpersonal description of an event. This was a travel writer’s journal. The other group visualised a personal future event.
The researchers found that people who used future thinking visualised something in the future and were more likely to resist a tempting high calorie food compared with people that thought about a nonpersonal event. This means that thinking about the future can help resist temptation.
This can be applied to ourselves when eating food. When we use future thinking to think about the reward of not eating high calorie foods we are less likely to eat it. For example, when we think about how healthy we will be in the future, we will be less likely to eat that delicious piece of cake. Delaying eating high calorie foods can assist us in keeping our lowest livable weight.
In intuitive eating we seek to eat to our hunger and satiety cues. We look to make foods everyday so that we no longer crave foods. By future thinking about our health we are able to keep to eating a sensible diet and keep to our lowest livable weight. This is the lowest weight that we can have based on our genes. However if you find yourself eating that delicious cake, enjoy it and don’t feel guilt and shame.
Tinuke Oluyomi Daniel, Christina M. Stanton, and Leonard H. Epstein, ‘The Future Is Now: Reducing Impulsivity and Energy Intake Using Episodic Future Thinking’, Psychol Sci. 2013 Nov 1; 24(11): 2339–2342.