Can looking at gross pictures curb your appetite?
That craving for a high-calorie sweet or salty food can make it challenging to maintain a healthy weight or lose a few extra pounds, but a new study offers a novel approach on how people might curb their cravings for unhealthy food – viewing gross photographs.
New research to be published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that viewing gross photographs could help fight the urge to indulge in junk food. Participants in the study were shown disgusting images that included cockroaches, vomit and unclean toilets, followed by images of popular high-calorie treats like ice-cream sundaes, pizza and fries.
Researchers then asked participants about their cravings toward the pictured junk food. Immediately after being shown the pictures, participants found the junk food items to be less alluring than prior to seeing the unsanitary pictures. Researchers discovered that three to five days after the experiment, participants still found the items less pleasing.
Study researchers said the findings suggest pairing feelings of disgust with unhealthy foods could reduce the likelihood of choosing those foods.
Dr. Emelie Ilarde, a primary care physician with Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill., says that unhealthy cravings can also be tamed by making small changes to a few daily habits aside from looking at gross pictures.
“A healthy breakfast not only gives you energy after waking up, but it also helps to control your appetite throughout the day, making it less likely you will crave unneeded and unhealthy snacks,” says Dr. Illarde.
Consuming a lot of fluids can also help keep people from grabbing high-calorie snacks.
“Drinking water throughout the day can help subdue food cravings,” Dr. Ilarde says. “Dehydration is commonly mistaken for hunger, which causes people to eat when they are only in need of water. If you are hungry for a treat, drink a large glass of water and wait 15 to 30 minutes to see if the urge to eat has gone away.”
Dr. Ilarde advises people keep a few healthy snacks on hand to avoid ending up at the vending machine for potato chips.
“Cherry tomatoes, carrot and celery sticks, and nuts are all examples of snacks that will fill you up and give you a boost of energy during the day,” she says. “Buying pre-cut fresh fruits and veggies are helpful for when a craving comes on fast.”
About the Author
Julie Nakis, health enews contributor, is manager of public affairs at Advocate Children's Hospital. She earned her BA in communications from the University of Iowa – Go Hawkeyes! In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, exploring the city and cheering on the Chicago Cubs and Blackhawks.