A recent article over at NPR briefly covered the topic of food, or rather, how your body changes the way it responds based on your assumptions about the food you consume. In the article, the author points out a recent study that looked at the levels of Ghrelin (a hormone related to how hungry you feel) and how diet versions of food predictably leave your levels of ghrelin relatively unaffected, leaving you just as hungry. Sucking down a fatty milkshake, however, lowers Ghrelin levels drastically, as expected.

But there was a catch to this study. The participants drank the same drink. One was simply labeled "Fat Free - Low Calorie," while the other was labeled "Indulgent." The research and the article elude to the idea that the brain's perception of what it is consuming directly impacts the biological response to the food.


I hate you cow.

The reason I bring this up is because I think we've all experienced this before. Your first day on Diet X is horrible. You are constantly hungry, and the Laughing Cow is mocking you for your efforts. How will you ever get through this on only 800 calories before dinner? Never mind the fact that most days thats about how much you eat when you skip breakfast and have a quick lunch while you are super busy.

If our minds do in fact have the ability to regulate how we process food, regardless of its contents, then can we easily trick each other into consuming less? Could Ellie go into the fridge and put skim milk in the carton of half and half, and I save the calories without missing them? I find this fascinating and potentially exploitable!

I drive my family crazy when I say that "running distances is all mental." But hey, if we really have that much subconscious influence in our levels of hormones—simply by reading the labels on the products we consume—then maybe running really is just mental.