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Why Focusing on your Appearance is Bad News

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We’ve long known that being made hyper aware of our bodies and our physical appearance in general has done little good. A new study proves that this is even more harmful in that this psychological activity actually alters how our bodies react to food.

According to The Atlantic, if our diets are focused on looks and appearance, we become less in tune with our body’s signals of hunger and fullness. We cannot underestimate the importance of these satiety cues. As our mothers always told us, they key to good health is to ‘obey your body.’ If you’re ignoring those signals, something has gone askew.

Published in the January 2015 issue of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, a new study from the Netherlands discovered this prominent issue.

The paper’s lead author, Evelien van de Veer explains: “We found that focusing on how you look may hinder how you listen to your body’s hunger fullness cues and how you adjust your food intake.”

Arriving at this conclusion, the researchers conducted two separate experiments with a group of 113 participants. In the first experiment, those involved were lead to believe that they were taking part in a milkshake taste test. They were divided into two groups. Both groups were given a milkshake to drink but one group were given a mirror to look at while they drank it. Furthermore, half of the participants drank a high-calorie milkshake while the other half drank a low-calorie option, but neither group knew which one they had. 15 minutes later, they were invited into a room to watch a movie. There was a bowl of M&M’s placed next to the screen. What they found was that those who drank the high-calorie milkshake while looking at the mirror munched on more M&M’s than those who drank the milkshake alone. They ignored their satiety signals upon being primed to focus on appearance.

Next up, the team tested two all female groups. One group, as per The Atlantic, came before lunch (the “hungry condition”) while the other came afterwards (the “satiety condition”). Some of the women (in and around the age of 20) were asked to evaluate advertisements that featured female models while others were excluded from that task. Then, researchers asked them to simply enjoy as many crackers as they wanted to during a set amount of time.

Interestingly, those who weren’t hungry and were shown the ads ate more crackers.

What does all this say? As per the study’s author, “a preoccupation with how one looks undermines achieving a healthy eating pattern.”

@CarolineForan

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