How to survive a snack-attack – Training against cravings
The emergence of cravings happens in two phases. First, they are elicited by environmental cues, such as pictures and smells of food. This produces thoughts related to the target of craving, which again motivates the individual to contemplate on it further by using mental imagery. The mental imagery engages several senses, such as visual, olfactory and gustatory senses, and therefore a very realistic idea of the taste and smell of the craved target is formed. If the craving is not satisfied, the individual will start feeling uncomfortable.
The research group found that while the guided imagery technique works only for people who defined themselves as chocolate cravers, the cognitive defusion method reduced the intrusiveness of thoughts and craving intensity in both chocolate cravers and in people who did not have cravings for chocolate. The researchers suggest that this kind of self-awareness methods can be used to change our thought patterns before the craving becomes too strong to resist. The best method would be to use a combination of the two techniques, which enables combating the craving already at the very early stages of its emergence.