Being mindful when it comes to eating can involve more than seeking out healthy, organic, and sustainable products. Mindful eating can also be a practice and mindset used to be “present” while nourishing your body. New research from Flinders University in Australia suggests that mindfulness techniques may even be used to help curb your chocolate addiction.
In the study, researchers tested the “elaborate-intrusion theory of desire,” which holds that cravings are a two-step process, with initial thoughts about a subject followed by mental imagery. The study found that two particular mindfulness practices — cognitive defusion and guided imagery — helped subdue subjects’ chocolate cravings.
Researchers used two test groups of young women — one control group and another made up of women who said they wanted to cut back on their chocolate intake — to test the practices. Cognitive defusion was used to target the first stage of craving by allowing the subjects to distance themselves from the thought of chocolate without having to follow up with action — i.e., eating it. Guided imagery was used to target the second stage of craving (the visualization of chocolate) and encouraged subjects to replace the image of chocolate with a new one.
According to Sophie Schumacher, the study’s lead researcher, the results were promising.
“We found that cognitive defusion lowered the intrusiveness of thoughts, vividness of imagery before, and craving intensity for both the general test group and for those who craved chocolate and wished to eat less chocolate,” Schumacher said.