For triathletes looking to eat healthier or lose weight, but constantly falling victim to not-so-healthy food cravings, this new study coming out of Plymouth Universtiy and the Queensland University of Technology may be of interest.
Psychologists from the universities found that playing Tetris for as little as three minutes helped quell cravings for food, as well as other common cravings such as cigarettes, alcohol and coffee. Playing tetris decreased craving strength from 70 per cent to 56 per cent, which study authors say is significant evidence that cognitive interference can be employed to avoid unhealthy habits.
The researchers believe that Tetris is effective because the experience of having a craving involves imagining consuming the substance of desire. Playing a visually stimulating game captivates and therefore distracts the area of the brain that would go to support that imagery.
As professor Jackie Andrade puts it, “It is hard to imagine something vividly and play Tetris at the same time.”
The experiment involved 31 undergraduates aged 18 to 27 who reported cravings. They were asked to evaluate cravings before and after a three-minute round of Tetris. The most common cravings were sugary drinks and food.
Also significant is that participants played the game an average of 40 times, yet the effect did not seem to wear off.