Thought-induced hunger – plan to avoid it

What’s for dinner tonight?

Thought-induced hunger is a real thing: just thinking about food makes you hungry.

How often have you searched for inspiration about what you might prepare for dinner? You contact Chef Google and start searching while considering a range of questions: What’s already in the cupboard? Do I have meat in the freezer? How many people am I feeding tonight? Who likes what?

While you’re searching, you find that you start getting hungry. Perhaps it’s the lovely images that go along with recipes, maybe it’s the anticipation of the tastes to come, or there’s even a chance that you start salivating because you don’t want to miss out.

Some factors that contribute to thought-induced hunger:

  • Intellectual work – even just thinking about what to include in tonight’s menu – makes you hungry.
  • The sight of delicious food stimulates the hunger hormone, ghrelin. Social media is awash with “food porn”; images of delicious foods that tempt beyond reason. Food porn images are rarely of broccoli, instead offering up delicious-looking desserts and artfully presented meals.
  • Classical conditioning, as we know from Pavolv’s experiments with dogs, demonstrates that external triggers can make us hungry. The smell of a bakery or simply knowing that a meal-time is approaching are examples.
  • Fear of missing out – we see this in children all the time, where the thought that they might miss out on an opportunity creates hunger. A sibling has a biscuit so they demand one. A walk through the food court creates cries of “I’m starving” or “Can I have…” Are adults any different?

With so many everyday occurrences that can create thought-induced hunger, how can we avoid it?

Plan ahead

  1. Take some time on the weekend, preferably immediately after a meal, to write out your meals for the week. Make sure to include a couple of meals which can be prepared in advance and then stored in the fridge or freezer in meal-sized portions.
  2. Use this plan to create a shopping list.
  3. Go shopping.
  4. Unpack the shopping and get started preparing a meal or two. A slow cooker can be a life-saver, as can using the oven at the same time for a few different meals.

Be organised, avoid food porn, and stay away from tempting environments, and your thought-induced hunger will be a problem of the past.

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