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Halt Cravings with This Mental Image

Halt Cravings with This Mental Image

The easiest way to get your mind off that hot fudge sundae is to picture this instead: a white sandy beach in Tahiti.

Or a scene from your favorite movie. Or a slow dance with your honey under a starry sky. Just picture something—anything—delightfully pleasant that isn't food related. Research suggests that doing so can help stop a craving, fast.

Just Imagine...
In a recent study, college students were asked to vividly picture themselves engaged in a well-loved activity every time a food craving came up and to maintain the alternate image until the craving faded. Compared with control groups using other craving-quelling techniques like distraction or mentally challenging tasks, the daydreamers experienced a much more dramatic nosedive in both the strength and vividness of their food cravings. Researchers suspect that because the students employed their senses—like sight, sound and smell—when imaging the enjoyable activity, it took the edge off their food urges and made the craved item seem less real. (Find out how your TV remote can help you crush cravings for junk food.)

Give It Time
Interestingly, despite a weakening of their cravings, the college kids practicing the visualization technique didn't eat less of their yearned-for foods during the short 4-day study. But the study authors suspect that would be the next logical result or step in a longer study if the students practiced the visualization habit for a longer period of time. And even if daydreaming only diminishes the intensity of food cravings, that's a great start to getting a handle on them.

Check out these two easy ways to cut calorie intake in half!

Medically reviewed in August 2019.

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