The next time you feel like grabbing sweets while on a strict diet play Tetris for at least three minutes instead.
Cravings are normal. As HNGN previously reported, psychologists have formulated different theories to explain the feeling: low levels of serotonin (a calming hormone that triggers the desire for certain foods); the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) call for a break from the stress; and the body merely signals some deficiencies of some nutrients.
It is a challenge to fight cravings so most of us couldn't help but give in. However, researchers at Plymouth University and Queensland University of Technology, Australia, claim that they have found a way to weaken cravings.
The new study involved 31 participants with ages 18 to 27. Half of them were instructed to play Tetris for three minutes using an iPod each time they are craving for food, drugs, or activities. All the participants were reminded through text messages to report their craving levels, but they were also told to be proactive each time they experience it.
The analysis showed that playing Tetris helped reduce cravings from 70 percent to 56 percent. After playing Tetris, craving occurred only 30 percent of the time, mostly triggered by food and non-alcoholic drinks. Cravings for drugs, ncluding coffee, cigarettes, wine and beer, were reduced 21 percent – 16 percent for activities such as sleeping, playing video games, socializing with friends, and sexual intercourse.
"The impact of Tetris on craving was consistent across the week and on all craving types," Professor Jon May, study co-author from Plymouth University, said in a university news release.
"People played the game 40 times on average, but the effect did not seem to wear off. This finding is potentially important because an intervention that worked solely because it was novel and unusual would have diminishing benefits over time as participants became familiar with it."
The researchers believe that Tetris helped in warding off cravings because it disrupts the mind from imagining food, drugs, or activities.
"As a support tool, Tetris could help people manage their cravings in their daily lives and over extended time periods," Professor Jackie Andrade, from the School of Psychology and the Cognition Institute at Plymouth University, added.
The study was published in the journal Addictive Behaviors.