Positive shrinking: Writing about the things that mean most can help us lose weight
The secret to slimming could be as simple as picking up a pen and writing.
In a remarkable indication of the potential power of positive thinking in dieting, researchers found that women who wrote about what meant most to them each day lost significantly more weight than those who didn’t.
A study by America’s Stanford University and Renford University College in Canada recruited 45 undergraduates, none of who were thin and about 60 per cent of them technically overweight or obese
The remaining women were told to write instead about something that didn’t matter to them.
When the women were weighed again four months later, the first group had lost an average of 3.4 pounds while the others had put on 2.7 pounds – a more usual weight gain among students.
It is a dramatic difference and experts believe that, just as we eat when we’re depressed, making ourselves happier acts as an appetite suppressant.
The study used women because research suggests they are more vulnerable to weight-related stress.
‘How we feel about ourselves can have a big effect,’ said Christine Logel, the study’s co-author.
She believes the women who wrote about something they valued each day would have felt good about themselves and wouldn’t eat to make themselves feel better.
‘When something threatens your sense that you’re a good person, like failing a test or having a fight with a friend, we can buffer that self-integrity by reminding ourselves how much we love our children, for example.’
Past studies have have found that even thinking briefly about what you value in life can have a major effect on your sense of self-worth.
Prof Cohen used the same technique on underachieving ethnic minority students and found they were still performing better years later.