Researchers asked volunteers to devote about a minute and a half to methodically imagining chewing and swallowing 30 M&Ms, one after another. Then, when presented with a bowl of M&Ms, those volunteers ate about half as many candies as volunteers who imagined eating only three M&Ms, or none at all.

That’s not what was expected. Conventional wisdom is “don’t think about food”. So what happens is we think about food.  Suppression sensitizes us to cravings. The mind is pretty literal and when we try not to think about it, we do anyway. But when we actively think about food, it triggers a habituation reflex. Scientists used to think habituation needed direct stimulus, but that’s not the case. We can do it from mind alone. The impact of that on what we are able to achieve remains to be seen.

For those of us still dialing in that optimal zone of health and well being, or working to regain it, playing the “Is It Healthy?” Game isn’t just what we do, it’s who were being in the moment, either imagining the M&M’s or actually eating them. I think they’ve finally discovered how we can have our cake and eat it too!