Are you looking forward to holiday treats and libations but dreading sluggish energy levels and extra weight come January? Turns out those feelings of dread might be the right approach to keeping off the pounds, according to a new MRI study.
Why are some people better at resisting food cravings than others? The answer may lie in thinking about the long-term consequences of our eating choices–envisioning your future self overweight and unhealthy.
The study, entitled Thinking about the Long-Term Impact of Your Food Choices May Help Control Food Cravings was published in the Obesity Society journal in November of this year. The researchers looked at 25 overweight participants who were shown images of tempting foods while having their brains scanned by MRI. The participants were asked to apply one of four coping strategies: Distraction (where you think about something other than the food), Allowance (where you consider the food but accept that you are only thinking about it, not necessarily overindulging), Later (where you forecast a picture of yourself following the negative results of overdoing it) and Now (where you go for the immediate reward of eating/drinking the temptation in front of you).
The researchers found that the Later strategy worked best of the four strategies in reducing the amount the participants ate. Also, the MRI scans showed that the Later strategy was the lone one to activate the regions in the brain responsible for self-regulation.