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Stop food cravings through imaginary eating

Fighting an M&M's craving this holiday season? Let that milk chocolate melt in your mind - not in your mouth. According to new research, imagining eating a specific food reduces your interest in that food, so you eat less of it.

This reaction to repeated exposure to food is called habituation, and it's well known to occur while eating. A "tenth bite of chocolate, for example, is desired less than the first bite," the study authors note.

But the new research is the first to show that habituation can occur solely via the power of the mind. "A lot of people who diet try to avoid thinking about stimuli they crave. This research suggests that may not be the best strategy," study leader and psychologist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh Carey Morewedge said. "If you just think about the food itself - how it tastes, smells, and looks - (that will]) increase your appetite," Morewedge said. "This research suggests that it might be better, actually, to force yourself to repeatedly think about tasting, swallowing, and chewing the food you crave to reduce your cravings."

What's more, the technique works with only the food you've imagined, he added. For instance, imagining eating chocolate wouldn't prevent you from gorging on cheese. National Geographic News

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