For those of us who think three big bars don't suffice the chocolate provision for 2 days, this recent finding about how visualising forests scenes helps curbing our cravings comes as the most delightful news ever.
In a recent study by Dr. Sophie Schumacher of Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, it was found that visualising a forest or beach scene can significantly reduce sweet cravings, in particular for chocolate. Dr. Schumacher reveals, not to the surprise of many, that tackling the craving issue when it first pops up in the head is much easier - specially when hunger is not hitting hard - than waiting for those cravings to get stronger.
Chocolate is on the top of cravings and these, according to this research, generally occur in two distinct stages: an initial one, caused by environmental cues (i.e. pictures, seeing someone eat that delicious treat or even hearing the treat's name) and the next one which comes with more mental elaboration about the craving (imagining smells, tastes, and so on). These stages are important to take into account in deviating these cravings as we will discover.
Researchers took two groups of women, one general and one who wanted to reduce their chocolate intake. They embarked the testing in two different modalities: cognitive defusion and guided imagery. In cognitive defusion, originally part of cognitive distancing, the subject is encouraged to detect thoughts, and see them as hypotheses rather than objective facts. Then through guided imagery, the subjects are encouraged to evoke and create mental images that simulate sensory perception (i.e. sights, sounds, tastes, smells, textures).
Cognitive defusion targets the first stage of the craving- when the thought of chocolate first arises- seeing this craving as something that doesn’t necessarily have to be followed by action. The guided imagery technique targets the second stage of the craving - the more vivid one- replacing it with other images, for example, a serene place as a forest.
Research found that cognitive defusion lowered the intensity of the craving thoughts, and that guided imagery was even more effective for both test groups: the general group and even more for the group who wished to eat less chocolate.
"When imagining an alternative scene, like a walk in a forest or on a beach, be sure to use different senses – imagine sights, sounds and smells. This can help counter your craving-related imagery,” said Dr. Schumacher. She further added "With practice, it could be as easy as creating an automatic distraction for yourself the moment those niggly chocolate cravings start occurring". There are different ways of imagining alternative scenes, for instance to the aid of creating forest sensorial experiences, Forest Homes Store specialises in forest-inspired home decor products that are meant to deliver both natural, sensorial experiences and all mental and psychological benefits to the comfort of your home (Explore some natural decor options in here).
“Becoming more aware of how your thoughts influence your behaviour is a good first step. Bear in mind that thoughts like ‘need chocolate’ may not be true, and may not need to be acted upon”.
Medical News http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/316357.php