How Listening to Music Can Curb your Appetite
In the process of losing weight and improving one’s health, there are the usual procedures like getting at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, decreasing calorie intake, and choosing healthier foods. Nonetheless, one obstacle remains in the search for a permanent lifestyle change, and that is the almighty APPETITE.
It can sneak up on a person at the most inopportune moment, but it can be contained and controlled by the ideal distraction and stress reliever—music. Listening to music, depending the occasion, can have an effect of the mind, mood, and yes, body.
Decreases Distraction (helpful for mindful eating)
One way that music can help with the weight loss process is by providing a distraction that does not take away from the overall experience of dining out or sitting at the table with the family. When dieting, one should be paying attention more to portion sizes as well as what exactly is going on the plate. Additionally, keeping on top of how quickly and often one picks up a utensil and how fast to chew can also help to avoid overeating. This is not to say that one has to obsess over eating habits; rather a person doesn’t have to rush and gulp down everything—which is bad for digestion and promotes weight anyway.
So where does music come into play? According to a study published in Psychological Reports, softer and slower music affected the overall atmosphere of a Chicago fast food restaurant. The results showed that patrons, on average, took a longer time to finish their meal and took in 18 percent fewer calories than the group on the other side of the establishment where no atmospheric changes were made.
Wansink, a co-author of the study and a former U.S.D.A. Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, noted that the results imply that music contributed to a more tranquil ambience, less consumption, and more satisfaction. Therefore, the same kind of environment could possibly be duplicated at home with similar results. So one suggestion is to try similar procedures, complete with soft background music, during dinner time when the most food consumption tends to take place, as compared to breakfast and lunch, in order to promote a slower pace.
Takes Attention Away from the Buffet at a Gathering
In the case of a lively social gathering where the music is anything but soft, this can still work to a dieter’s advantage in almost a similar manner as the study previously mentioned. For instance, if the music is a little louder and more upbeat, one of two things can happen. People might get the urge to dance (if that happens to be appropriate for the occasion), or the tunes turn into more of a conversational piece, which then encourages more talking and less eating.
While this might not create the same ambience that facilitates mindful eating, this type of scenario can created just enough distraction that takes attention away from the eating, especially if karaoke is involved. A person is either participating in the singing or paying more attention to the singers than the snacking. Either way, music is the ideal diversion.
Facilitates Relaxation that Enables Regulation of Hormones
Another idea to take away from the aforementioned study is the fact that music, in and of itself, is simply relaxing and can enable some degree of respite and release of stress. Over time, the consistent alleviation of stress and anxiety and a regulatory hormone, like HCG drops diet (I found this site in Google for “best hcg website” term), would consequently lower the body’s levels of ghrelin and cortisol—two saboteurs of the weight loss process and contributors to accumulation of belly fat. (According to Medscape, accumulations of ghrelin stimulate appetite, while an increase in cortisol leads to insulin resistance.)
Granted, some deep breathing, possibly meditation, aromatherapy, and/or guided imagery might need to be included for the sake of developing coping skills for the time being. However, what is very important to remember is that a person would be practicing natural, holistic relaxation techniques with a bit of help from some soothing music instead of resorting to other means that might have the side effect of increasing appetite and enabling weight gain. (This is not to say that sometimes medication might be necessary when dealing with severe anxiety or trauma, but that is best determined by a doctor.)
So listening to music while resting after a long, difficult day might be the key to taking control of the body’s reaction to outside negative factors and allowing its natural processes of self-preservation, like burning energy more efficiently, to occur without interference of chemical or hormonal imbalances.
Helps with Falling Asleep Faster
Speaking of decreasing ghrelin and cortisol levels, another useful advantage to listening to music is that it can help a person to fall asleep faster and pose enough distraction to keep the mind from “racing,” which is a common response after a trying day or during a challenging period in one’s life. A study was conducted at the Center for Interdisciplinary Music Research (University of Finland) and later published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.
The researchers explored the effects of different genres of music on the minds and moods of their subjects to see if listening to music might be a possible avenue to take for regulation of emotions. (Brain activity was recorded while subjects listened to music.) Results showed increased activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for emotional regulation.
So how does this relate to falling asleep? When a person is still feeling anxious at the end of the day, before retiring for the night, he or she can listen to music and perhaps incorporate other relaxation techniques to quiet the mind, finish processing all that has occurred in the hours before going to bed, and finally drift off.
Getting a good night’s sleep is vital to maintaining energy level and appetite throughout the day, which is beneficial to losing weight and overall wellbeing. Therefore, if a person uses music as a means to falling asleep then the process of getting in shape will not be as complicated since he or she is able to perform tasks and eat normally during the waking hours.
Replaces a snack as a reward
One of the most important tactics in the weight loss process is to mark an important milestone with a reward that does not involve food or is not too costly. Music serves as the perfect reward whether it involves downloading a couple of favorite tunes or to give oneself some much needed time alone to enjoy and to unwind. It can also be a reward for an exceptional workout—or anything related to improving one’s health.
Each time a pound is lost or a calorie quota is met, listening to music can be part of the positive reinforcement that one needs to stay motivated. Each time a completed task is combined with a meaningful recompense, then the mind is more apt to want a repeat—similar to Pavlov’s most familiar experiment involving a treat and a bell.
As one can see, music can sooth the savage beast known as the human appetite. It can have a profound effect on the atmosphere of a place, as well as on a person’s mood, thus directly altering eating habits in a positive way. Slowing down, chewing longer, and providing relaxation are all very beneficial to any dietary process.