Imagination_food

Imagining food cravings away

Christmas is just days away and that means the temptation to consume your own bodyweight in salty snacks, sweet treats, and an assortment of baked meats is also on its way. If you want to avoid that traditional Yuletide feeling of engorgement and regret then your imagination may be your best weapon.

A new study has found that imagining yourself eating your favourite food will in fact reduce your craving for it.

To establish this finding, which does run counter to previous assumptions, researchers conducted two studies. In the first of these the subjects were divided into three groups. One group imagined placing 33 coins into a washing machine, a second group imagined putting 33 coins into a washing machine and then eating three M&Ms, and a third group imagined placing three coins into the washing machine followed by eating 30 M&Ms.

After completing their imagination task all groups had unlimited access to as many M&Ms as they could eat. In the end, those who had imagined eating 30 M&Ms ate considerably less than the other groups.

In a second study the subjects had to physically act out the tasks of placing coins and eating M&Ms. The same results were found: those who acted out eating more of the chocolates ate less when given the opportunity.

The theory goes that imagining something in detail gets the brain neurons going in a similar way to actually doing the activity in question. So merely imagining an experience becomes a substitute for the actual experience. Mind you, in the case of food the effect will only apply to the specific food that you imagine.

It may take some time to imagine yourself gorging on all of the gustatory treats that will confront you this Christmas but the leaner and less bloated results may be worth it.

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The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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