A Surprising Way to Control Cravings

Plagued by cravings for sweets or other foods? Here's a surprising technique that just might work.

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
1-minute read


How to Control CravingsHere's a surprising technique for controlling food cravings--one that seems to fly in the face of conventional wisdom. Instead of trying to put that doughnut or onion ring out of your mind, imagine yourself eating it. And not just once, but over and over again. Strangely enough, visualizing yourself eating a forbidden food--even gorging on it--may reduce your desire for it.  

Ask the Diva: Best Way to Fight Chocolate Cravings?

Researchers  at Carnegie Mellon University found that fantasizing about eating a favorite food evoked some of the same neural, emotional, and even physical responses as actually eating it. Repeated sessions of imaginary eating tended to make that particular food less desirable to the subjects--although it didn't seem to affect their appetite for other types of treats.

See also: How to Handle Food Cravings by the Savvy Psychologist.

According to this research, the more imaginary M&Ms you eat, the fewer you'll eat in real life. Do you think this strategy would work for you? Could it back-fire? 

Cravings image courtesy of Shutterstock

About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show.