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Stemming Cravings by Paying Attention

Hard Multicolored CandyDieters who have trouble controlling those dessert cravings may find that paying careful attention to every decadent forkful (or spoonful) may help, suggests a new study published online in the Journal of Consumer Research.

The study included a series of tests that focused on how our self-control influences what we eat. In one test, the researchers found that people who have more self-control eat less sugary foods because they get satisfied on the sweet foods faster. Based on a questionnaire, participants were categorized into having high or low self-control. Approximately 200 participants then chose from either peanuts or raisins – the healthy snacks – or M&Ms™ or Skittles™. They rated how much they liked their first bite both before and after eating the food while watching a video.

The candy eaters with a lot of self-control reported they were less likely to want to eat more of the sweets the next day. And while they liked the candy after that first bite, their enjoyment faded relatively fast after eating them for a while, whereas the healthy snackers liked their raisins and peanuts about the same. For the participants with low self-control, how much they enjoyed the snack was about the same whether they were eating the healthy or unhealthy foods.

In another test, the authors tested their hypothesis that paying more attention to eating foods will increase a person’s satisfaction with the food. They found that candy eaters who counted the number of times they swallowed reported they were satisfied more quickly than those who did not count, whether they had low or high self-control.

Source: Joseph P. Redden and Kelly L. Haws.”Healthy Satiation: The Role of Decreasing Desire in Effective Self-Control.” Journal of Consumer Research, Ahead of Print, p. 000/ The University of Chicago Press.

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