Craving chocolate? Imagining a walk through a forest or on a beach may help you cut down the desire for your favourite treats, scientists say. New research indicates that people can use self-awareness to fight back and even erase chocoholic thoughts that hamper a healthy lifestyle.
“If we tackle the issue when it first pops up in your mind -particularly if you are not hungry -then it’s much easier than waiting for those cravings to gather force,” said Sophie Schumacher, PhD candidate at Flinders University in Australia.
“Learn to nip off these cravings at the bud by giving yourself a constructive distraction… imagining a walk in a forest can help to lower the intrusiveness of the thoughts and vividness of the imagery ,” said Schumacher.
“We found it was important to target the initial craving thoughts before they become full-blown cravings,” she said. Cravings occur in two distinct stages -the initial intrusive thought (caused by environmental cues, like pictures) and the subsequent elaboration (where vivid image ry of the craving becomes persistent), researchers said.
Researchers tested a theory called elaborate-intrusion theory and whether two techniques known as cognitive defusion and guided imagery can reduce chocolate cravings.
Cognitive defusion targets the first stage of the craving, while the guided imagery technique targets the second stage. “Becoming more aware of how your thoughts influence your behaviour is a good first step,” the researchers said.