A team of psychologists at the University of St Andrews found that by planting false memories into the minds of study participants, they were able to alter their behaviour.
The researchers told 180 Dutch students that they had become ill after eating egg salad as a child.
Although the majority of the participants did not believe the suggestions, a 'significant minority' took what they had been told to be true and, four months later, tended to be avoiding egg salad.
Dr Elke Geraerts, a lecturer at the university, commented: "With obesity levels reaching epidemic proportions around the world, we could use this type of suggestive therapy for treating cases of obesity or influencing dieting choices.
"It may be possible for people to learn to avoid certain foods by believing they had negative experiences with the food as a child."
The findings are published in the journal Psychological Science.