Imagination Can Help Reduce Food Cravings
Here’s some information regarding food for thought: literally. Imagine you are eating a food you love. Will you end up eating less or more once you actually get that food to eat? A study reported in the Los Angeles Times stated that people who imagined eating M&M’s prior to eating them, ate 47% less M&M’s when they actually got in front of the bowl versus those that did not imagine eating the M&M’s. What an interesting finding.
Generally, one may have thought that the more we think about a specific food, the more we will want it. Thus, when we actually get the food, we can overeat or binge on it. However, this study had the participants imagine eating M&M’s about 30 times before actually eating the bowl of candy. The concept is this: the more repetitive thoughts we have, the better habituation we have. This can result in greater control over the food so that fewer stimuli go to our brain and our brain doesn’t think of the food as extremely desirable. The food is just any other meal or dish.
Now thinking of a food 30 times takes a lot of willpower and thought process. Do we all have time for this? When we’re craving a sweet or salty or savory food item, are we going to stop and think about it for at least 30 times before going to grab it? Probably not. However, this study is good to note that when we do take time to think and stimulate our brains, we can change our thought process and reduce our desire to truly eat that craving . Once again, this idea goes back to the idea of delaying a craving: the more we put it to the side, the more we think about something else, the less the desire to eat the food becomes.
Final note to self: delay your craving and truly imagine yourself eating the food that you are thinking about. Just that imagination can relax the mind, calm the thoughts, and you might just enjoy thinking about eating the food multiple times more than actually eating the food itself.
What’s on your mind today? I’m thinking mmmm…..donuts!
By Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN
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