Although I wasn’t much impressed by last week’s (http://www NULL.julia-dinardo NULL.com/index NULL.php/site/article/tapping_your_way_out_of_emotional_eating_fact_or_fiction/) episode of “I Can Make You Thin,” this week’s episode was much better. Paul McKenna taught a technique that can be used whenever an intense craving hits.  Although I can’t speak for the scientific merit of this technique, nor do whether its effectiveness has been studied, it definitely makes a lot more sense than tapping random spots on your body.

The technique basically consists of “spoiling” the object of your craving (chocolate, chips, pizza, etc.) by imagining it covered in something absolutely disgusting (maggots, worms, insects, mold, vomit, poop, whatever it takes!). Studies have shown that our cravings are powerfully driven by mental images – think of a time you passed by an advertising for one of your favourite foods.  That image probably stayed in your mind all day, creating a craving that wouldn’t go away until you satisfied it.  It seems that it’s actually the image of the food that is the basis for the craving, whether we are aware that we are picturing it or not.  If vividly imagining the food, smells, taste, texture and all, can fuel the urge to eat it, then it stands to reason that “spoiling” it with something equally horrible can create an aversion for that same food.

Here’s how it works: with the thumb and middle finger of your left hand pressed together, take a few minutes to conjure up an image of something you absolutely despise (e.g., liver, anchovies, cow brains).  If there’s nothing you won’t eat, then go into the non-food realm: vomit, diarrhea, mashed up insects, etc.  Imagine it with as much vivid detail as possible, including the way it smells.  You need to be completely and utterly disgusted, to the point of nausea.  Now imagine the food you’re currently craving being mixed in.  Oh, and sprinkle some barbershop hair and spit on top.  Mmmmm…. yummy.  Now go ahead and take a bite… go on, taste it.  Imagine the way it would taste and feel in your mouth.  You might actually start gagging at this point; that’s a good thing.  Keep pressing your left thumb and middle finger together – and hold the thought as long as you can. 

The idea is to create an association between your finger position and the feeling of disgust. Practice this exercise often to maximize the power of the technique.  The next time a craving hits, you can press your fingers together to draw out the feeling of disgust.  Use your imagination if necessary.  The beauty of this technique is that it can be used anywhere, anytime.  I tried it last night as I was watching the show, and good lord, I had no idea I could imagine such horribly disgusting things – I actually felt nauseous at the thought of any food, never mind yummy food, after I was through.  I’m definitely going to be giving it a try this week – I’ll let you know how it goes. 

What about the right hand, you ask? Good question.  The same power of imagery can be used to summon powerfully positive feelings.  Press the middle finger and thumb of the right hand together and think back to a time you felt incredibly good – falling in love, winning an award, being at total peace with the world.  Anything that has a significant meaning for you.  Imagine that time in as much vivid detail as possible.  Continue pressing your fingers together, and practice as much as you can.  You can press the fingers of the right hand together any time you need a mood boost: when you’re tired and cranky, when you need some motivation to go for a workout, or whenever you’re feeling emotional and fighting the urge to eat some comfort food. 

If anybody tries this out, I’d love to hear back from you. You can leave me a comment at the end of this post – I’m curious to see if it works for anyone.  Good luck!