The easiest way to get your mind off that hot fudge sundae is to picture this instead: a white sandy beach in Tahiti.
Or a scene from your favorite movie. Or a slow dance with your honey under a starry sky. Just picture something -- anything -- delightfully pleasant that isn't food related. Research suggests that doing so can help stop a craving, fast.
Just Imagine . . . 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 faded. Compared with control groups using other craving-quelling techniques like distraction or mentally challenging tasks, the daydreamers experienced a much more dramatic nosedive in both the strength and vividness of their food cravings. Researchers suspect that because the students employed their senses -- like sight, sound, and smell -- when imaging the enjoyable activity, it took the edge off their food urges and made the craved item seem less real. (Related: Find out how your TV remote can help you crush cravings for junk food.)
Give It Time Interestingly, despite a weakening of their cravings, the college kids practicing the visualization technique didn't eat less of their yearned-for foods during the short 4-day study. But the study authors suspect that would be the next logical result or step in a longer study if the students practiced the visualization habit for a longer period of time. And even if daydreaming only diminishes the intensity of food cravings, that's a great start to getting a handle on them. (Related: Here's a creamy food you can indulge in and still lose weight!)