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Some simple, 30-second distraction tasks could help reduce cravings, even for your favorite foods, according to a new study.
In the study, Richard Weil, M.Ed. CDE, Director of the Weight Loss Program at Mt Sinai St. Luke's Hospital in New York City, tested the effects of three short distraction tasks plus a control task on 55 obese male and female participants.
Experimentation kicked off by inducing food cravings for one of each participant's four favorite foods. They were asked to rate the craving's intensity and the vividness of the image of that particular food in their mind.
The tasks included tapping the forehead, tapping the ear, toe tapping and staring at a blank wall, of which the latter served as the control task.
All four tasks -- even the control -- worked effectively to control cravings on the participants, whose average body mass index was 43.7, meaning that they were nearly 83 pounds overweight on average.
Yet tapping the forehead was most effective, blurring the mental image of the food and neutralizing the craving by up to 10 percent more than the other exercises.
"This reinforces the idea that it's possible to distract ourselves from craving even our favorite foods no matter how much we weigh, and this could be used as a weight-loss strategy," says Dr. Weil.
The study is being presented this week at The Obesity Society Annual Meeting in Boston.