Here's a Mental Trick Used by Athletes to Master Portion Control

July 1st 2016

Taylor Bell

You might not be able to dunk a basketball or hit a three-point shot, but there is one struggle you might have in common with most NBA players: portion control.

According to a report by ESPN's Jackie MacMullan, professional athletes struggle just as much as regular people to avoid binging on unhealthy foods.

"People definitely think athletes can eat whatever they want because they run it off,'' Dr. Mike Roussell told MacMullan. "Even in the front office, some have that belief. I was blown away by the number of [NBA] athletes who were buying chicken fingers at the arena before a game or going to Subway late at night after the game. They are literally just like everyone else.''

So, how do they do it?

For Roussell it all comes down to the simple mental trick of envisioning yourself eating the same portions repeatedly.

According to ESPN, Roussell asks his players if they can imagine eating the same meal again in two hours. If they can't, then the meal is too big.

This trick is especially useful to keep in mind when you're very hungry, because it can take a person's brain up to 20 minutes to register a feeling of fullness.

While this technique might be useful in helping NBA players master portion control, it's not necessarily the key to overcoming cravings for unhealthy foods.

"One of the frequent conversations I have with our players is, 'I had pizza before the game and I had 25 [points],' Shawn Windle, the head strength and conditioning coach of the Indiana Pacers, told ESPN. 'Tell me how it will be different if I eat salmon and broccoli.' You try to explain to them they might not have the same energy or stamina, or that the pizza might not show up in the box score tonight, but it may tomorrow.''

NBA players: they're just like us.

[h/t ESPN]