Thinking about the long-term impact of your food choices may help control food cravings

Posted on November 6, 2014

New research reinforces the idea that the brain can control eating behavior, and considering the long-term consequences of your food choices may help control food cravings.

Kathryn Demos, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the Miriam Hospital at Brown University and her colleagues used functional MRI scans to watch participants brains as they reviewed pictures of enticing foods, like pizza, French fries and ice cream. Through the scans researchers were able to evaluate different strategies to reduce the desire to eat.

They found that simply thinking in a different way affects how the brain responds to tempting food cues in individuals with obesity. Through the MRI scans they identified that thinking about the long-term negative impact of eating unhealthy foods increased activity in a region of the brain involved in inhibitory control and self-regulation. The results show the promising possibility that focusing on the long-term consequences of consuming unhealthy foods could help diminish cravings and, as a result, potentially enhance weight-loss efforts.

A second study presented this week adds evidence to the current thinking that individuals with obesity can successfully reduce cravings using distraction tasks. For this study, Richard Weil, M.Ed. CDE, of Director of the Weight Loss Program at Mt Sinai St. Luke's Hospital in New York City, and his colleagues tested the effects of three, 30-second distraction techniques to reduce cravings for the study participant's favorite foods. They found that the effect of tapping one's own forehead and ear with their index finger, tapping one's toe on the floor, or a control task of staring at a blank wall, all worked significantly to reduce the cravings; however, forehead tapping worked best out of all techniques.

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Source material from Science Daily

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