Elaborated Intrusion theory

How to curb cravings while on a diet

Ever wondered that cravings are most powerful when you’re home alone or ‘bored’? The opposite happens when we lose our appetite before an exam or an important presentation at work.

This happens because of “Elaborated Intrusion Theory”, let me explain it –

The theory suggests that the craving is triggered by a thought or cue–say, thinking about or seeing your favourite chocolate. This leads to memories of eating your favourite chocolate in the past and the pleasure you derived in that moment. This increases your desire for the chocolate which causes you to want the chocolate even more (craving).

But, the theory also suggests that you can overcome the craving by disrupting your thoughts and reducing the craving.

How to Disrupt the thoughts :

1.Avoid sitting at home bored thinking about food.

If you’re at home and the craving strikes – get out of the house and get involved in some activity. For instance, take a long walk; hit the gym and do some ‘active recovery’ like walking on the treadmill, talk to a friend , organise your cupboard ; go watch a movie.

2. Mindfulness
Think about why you’re craving a particular food. Are you really hungry or are you simply eating because there’s nothing else to do? Chances are the latter is the reason.

Not an easy task, but reflecting on why you’re craving a certain food ‘interrupts’ the thought pattern of wanting to eat. And if you can interrupt the thought pattern, you can remind yourself to go do something else instead.

3. Get involved in something entertaining.

An interesting study concluded that playing Tetris ( a form of video game ) for as little as 3 minutes at a time weakened cravings for food, drugs and activities such as sex and sleep by approx 1/5th .

For me its playing candy crush saga. If you’re bored and the only way to entertain yourself is through ‘food’ then you’re more likely to give in to the craving and raid the fridge. In stead, if you’re engaging in something that occupies your time and attention–you’re less likely to think about food. New pathways are formed in the neurons in the brain and old patterns are erased by repeatedly creating new patterns.

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