As runners, our appetite levels rise when we are in the middle of our training. However, we often snack a little too much when we aren’t on a hardcore schedule. It’s easy to keep eating the same amount of calories during the off-training season. If this describes you, an online computer game may help control your snacking impulse.
In a study published in the journal Appetite, researchers from the University of Exeter and Cardiff University used 41 adults and had them complete four 10-minute sessions of playing a game involving snack control.
How the game works: Users avoid pressing on pictures of certain images, such as photos of heavy foods, while they respond to other images, such as images of fruits. The goal is to trick your brain into associating heavy, calorie-laden foods with stopping.
Participants were weighed and given food-rating tasks and diaries to complete one week before and one week after the training.
The results showed that participants lost an average of one and a half pounds and consumed around 220 fewer calories a day with a simple computer game. In addition, the reduction in weight and unhealthy snacking was maintained six months after the study.
“These findings are among the first to suggest that a brief, simple computerized tool can change people’s everyday eating behavior,” said lead researcher Natalia Lawrence of the University of Exeter. “This opens up exciting possibilities for new behavior change interventions based on underlying psychological processes,” said Lawrence.
Ten minutes isn’t too long to spend changing the way your brain looks at food.
You can watch this YouTube video to find out more information abut the game.