PJ's Fitness Blog

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Switch your thoughts to bust your cravings

The easiest way to get your mind off that hot fudge sundae is to picture something else that is equally or more pleasant instead, like a loved one’s laugh or your favorite place to relax. It could also be a fun experience, favorite game, or a time when you felt unusually powerful or “in the zone.” Just picture something — anything — that elevates your mood, that isn’t food related and be sure to imagine it as vividly as possible, including as many senses as possible. Imagine how it sounds, smells, looks, and feels, both emotionally and physically. Research suggests that doing so can help stop a craving, fast.

In a recent study, college students were asked to vividly picture themselves engaged in a well-loved activity every time a food craving came up and to maintain the alternate image until the craving subsided. Comparing their results to control groups using other craving-quelling techniques like distraction or mentally challenging tasks, the pleasant scene group experienced a much more dramatic reduction in both the strength and vividness of their food cravings. Researchers suspect that because the students employed their senses when imagining the enjoyable activity, it was more effective in quelling their food urges and made the craved food seem less real.

I have taught for a long time, the technique of catching yourself thinking about a certain “bad” food and switching your thoughts to another “good” food that you also enjoy. Since the mind can only have one though at a time, this works great. By switching thoughts, you are effectively atrophying the old nerve pathway (old thought) through dis-use (use it lose it), while deepenin the new pathway (new thought) by using it. Remember, every thought, emotion, memory, etc. is just an electrical impulse traveling a certain nerve branch. If you use it, you deepen it. If you don’t, it atrophies.

Just switch your thoughts to bust your cravings. Any thought really – using any technique will work, but the more emotion you can employ, the better because your subconscious will hear that the loudest. It really is that simple.



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