How to Curb and Control your Cravings
If you’ve ever tried very hard not to think about something or somebody, but then found yourself unable to clear that thing or person from your thoughts, the findings of a study led by Assistant Professor Carey K Morewedge from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania will strike a very definite chord with you. Details of this study were published on 10 December 2010 in “Science” the highly regarded journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
A number of undergraduates from CMU took part in five different experiments involving quarters, cubes of cheese, M&M’s and coin operated laundry machines in order to investigate the effects of imagination on appetite. The results of the experiments challenge the often held assumption, that thinking about your favourite food increases your cravings and makes you more likely to consume larger servings when you do eat this food. Professor Morewedge advised that “These findings suggest that trying to suppress one’s thoughts of desired foods in order to curb cravings for those foods is a fundamentally flawed strategy.”
The experiments actually revealed that where the volunteers repeatedly imagined eating a food, their desire to eat that food decreased, but if they only used a single rather than repeated visualisation of the food a reduction in their desire for the food did not arise.
The study only involved a relatively small number of participants, so further experiments and research will be needed to confirm the findings. However if you are looking to curb or control your food cravings, repeatedly imagining eating the food might help. So rather than desperately trying not to think about your favourite double chocolate ice cream sundae what you need to do instead is imagine eating it and savouring it one small mouthful at a time until it is all gone.
Morewedge certainly hopes that his research “will help develop future interventions to reduce cravings” and also “help people make healthier food choices.”