UNDATED – New research released this week and described in Friday's issue of the journal Science suggests people who imagine devouring a favorite food might end up consuming less of it.
It's a process called habituation. The key seems to be to imagine actually eating large amounts of the food, including each repetitive bite, chew and swallow.
In the experiments, researchers asked 51 people to imagine doing 33 repetitive actions, one at a time.
In part of the study, participants imagined putting three quarters into a laundry machine and then imagined eating 30 M&M candies one at a time.
These people gobbled up significantly fewer sweets compared with others who just imagined putting 33 coins into a laundry machine or a third group who imagined inserting the coins and then eating three M&Ms, the researchers found.