Giving Balance to Thoughts on Food

Giving Balance to Thoughts on Food

© GLOW IMAGES Models used for illustrative purposes

A guest post written by Anne Hughes from Malibu, California

Recently while driving in Los Angeles I listened to an interesting morning edition health segment on NPR about how our thoughts about food affect the body in physical ways. When I looked it up online, the print version was called, “Mind Over Milkshake: How Your Thoughts Fool Your Stomach.” Many people are concerned with nutrition and read nutritional labels when making food choices, so the main part of the program focused on a study done by Alia Crum, a psychologist from Columbia University, who wanted to know if reading nutritional information for foods can actually affect the body biologically. She had studied the effects of placebos and saw a possible connection.

Crum set up an experiment where two groups of people were given the same batch of vanilla milkshake, but one group received it in a bottle labeling it as a low calorie drink, while the other group received the same shake in a bottle describing it as a rich, delicious treat. A hormone called the hunger hormone was monitored and the group who drank the “Indulgent” shake showed a response as if they had just eaten three times more food than the other group with the “Sensi-Shake.” Although this was a small study, it points to how much our thought affects our health and comfort.

As a teen I was troubled with a skin condition and was told that proper food choices could help me. It made no difference. Then I decided to talk with a friend of my dad’s whose work was healing through prayer in Christian Science. I remember dancing home from one of our visits because I had learned that I did not have to accept the picture of an ugly complexion – God who is Love never gave me such a sentence. It wasn’t about the food at all. Before long the skin condition improved so noticeably that my friends wanted to know how it had come about.

Later on while raising my own children in Christian Science, I wanted to provide proper food and care. I realized that wise choices reflect the intelligent Mind that is God. At the same time I knew that health was more about thought than about these choices.

Mary Baker Eddy, health researcher and the founder of Christian Science, knew from her own experience that “…neither food nor the stomach, without the consent of mortal mind, can make one suffer…” She also states, “In divine Science, man is sustained by God, the divine Principle of being.” These ideas have continued to give balance to my thoughts about food.

About the author

Guest We are pleased to present Notes from the Field authors, who are assistant committees and church members in the Southern California region; and Notes from The Mother Church authors, who are Committees from the United States and around the world, as well as the Federal Committee on Publication office.


  1. D.Carol says

    Thank you for your “food for thought”… I know it’s true that our thinking influence so strongly every aspect of our lives. Well done!

  2. Belle says

    He did say, “Take no thought for what ye shall eat”…as usual, way ahead of his time.

  3. Heidi says

    With 3 little boys at home, I do think a lot about what I am feeding them and how I talk with them about food. This article is so helpful in re-framing how I think about food – I love these ideas and they go to the core of what I believe regarding the power of our thinking versus material factors.

  4. Maralee says

    Thanks for the graphic examples of how thought surely does affect our health. Healthy thoughts to all! Great to hear from you, Anne , my dear friend!

  5. Evelyn Brookins says

    This is so important for when we are making food choices. It also points to the possibility that a particular weight-reduction diet is as effective as we expect it to be – that is, by eating certain foods our weight will be affected – to gain or lose. How much better to understand that eating a reasonable amount can do no harm – unless we believe that it will.

  6. Mary Lou MacKenzie says

    That was a very interesting study. I’m glad it’s being talked about.

  7. chilesands says

    So clear and such a huge help; right after 3 nights of digestive distress. Turning my thoughts away from feeling sleep deprived, toward the light that nothing good can harm my being, these ideas you shared, bolstered my insight, where exactly my health comes from , and it’s not my intestines, nor food labels, nor material suggestions. Divine Law frees us from the law of sin or death.

  8. Diana U says

    I love the phrase “Mind over milkshake”! There is a lot out there about diets. Non-gluten is big right now. We have a friend that won’t eat any animal products including jello. We accommodate all diets for our visitors but I am glad to remember that its not what goes in the mouth that is important!

  9. Rhonda says

    Thank you for the information on the article “Mind Over Milkshake: How Your Thoughts Fool Your Stomach.” I have found from experience that thought does affect the body as the study found. By not being concerned or worried or thinking about what I eat I have remained the same normal size for many years. I eat just about anything and everything, but in moderation. I don’t diet, I don’t read labels, I don’t weigh myself, and I dismiss all the hype about food and body. It’s just rather amusing, one day something is harmful and the next it’s good for you, ha!…just human opinion or as the Bible puts it, the carnal mind as opposed to the divine Mind or God. For me the wise counsel in the Bible and Science and Health has been indispensable to my health and well being. (=

  10. Anne says

    This is such an all-consuming topic for so many people. Just yesterday there was a supplement magazine in the morning paper, telling of how certain foods cut appetite and others create cravings. Some help prevent cancer; others stave off heart disease. There was not one comment on any food that was simply delicious and enjoyable. Every food mentioned was fighting off potential health problems or was something to be avoided altogether. I think this constant concentration on the merits of “good” food versus the harm that “bad” food can cause is much more of a problem than the food itself!

    Here’s a helpful statement I discovered years ago on this subject: Mary Baker Eddy writes in her book on health, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” “Our dietetic theories first admit that food sustains the life of man, and then discuss the certainty that food can kill man” (p. 389).

    Christ Jesus expressed it in utter simplicity in his beautiful Lord’s Prayer: “Give us this day our daily bread;” He gives no explanation of what food is healthful or harmful. It’s simply provided for our daily need. That’s helped me eliminate fearful thoughts about food. Instead I’ve learned to be grateful for the infinite supply that is available.

    Thank you for discussing this current public obsession and bringing the power of thought to its rightful solution. A really good post.

  11. Pamela says

    Thanks for this blog and I loved everyones comments. Was gone all day yesterday so just read this right now (on Wednesday morning) and my comment is, I think Shakespeare said something like, “Nothing is right or wrong but thinking makes it so. ” I’m probably pararphrasing but the thought is really true. We tend to believe things we read too much without thinking it through for ourselves. I think we all need to be better thinkers.