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Fitness & Health

28th Apr 2016

This clever mind trick can help you control your sugar cravings

Science shows it works...

Ben Kenyon

When cravings strike, we all feel pretty powerless to do anything.

The moment you clap eyes on something sweet, sugary and covered in chocolate, the jig’s up.

We’ve all been there: you’ll literally knife anyone in your way to get to that sticky, gooey, brownie.

We now know it’s because sugar works in very similar way to cocaine addiction.

But if your willpower is softer than a chocolate kettle, there might just be a clever mind trick you can try that will keep your diet from crumbling at the first hurdle.

food the simpsons addiction

TV personality – and the man behind the 5:2 fasting diet – Dr Michael Mosley tackles the issue head on in this Brit Lab video, ‘How To Control Your Cravings’.

He reveals that a very cool little psychological trick has been devised by researchers at the University of Boston which they claim is a surefire willpower booster.

“The idea is that if you just imagine eating these foods, as opposed to actually eating them, then this will reduce your cravings,” Dr Mosley says.

Basically the researchers gathered 200 chocolate lovers and got one lot to imagine eating the chocolate three times, and another group to imagine eating it 30 times.

They had to imagine tasting, chewing and swallowing the chocolate in front of them.

The results were quite emphatic, with the latter (30x) group going on to eat 40 per cent less actual chocolate compared to the others.

sugar men in black edgar

So why was this?

Well, Dr Mosley explains that when you have a bite of something you’re really craving, you get an enormous hit of dopamine (the reward chemical) the moment you realise it tastes amazing.

But this dopamine response diminishes with the more you scoff – which is called habituation.

“So the idea behind this technique is that if you imagine eating 30 bits, by the time you get to the 30th bit your brain has become habituated.

“You are bored, not just of the imaginary food, but the actual food as well.”

There is a caveat: the trick only works with the specific thing your imagining. So if you’re trying to lay off the cake, don’t think about carrots.

If you like that, there’s another cunning mind trick to help you give up smoking just this way…