Being subjected to subliminal photos of disgusting things like insects and wounds could help curb your junk food cravings, according to a small new study.
Researchers from the University of Colorado asked 42 participants to look at photos of unhealthy foods like ice cream sundaes, pizza and french fries for four seconds after looking at "disgusting" images like a cockroach, vomit or a burn wound for 20 milliseconds.
Although 20 milliseconds is too short a time for participants to have any conscious memory of seeing the unpalatable images, participants were less inclined to eat high calorie, sugar and fat foods after being shown the photos.
"[This] could be a successful tactic to combat the onslaught of food cues that promote unhealthy eating by conditioning automatic food preferences in a way that promotes better choices in the absence of focused cognitive effort," wrote the study authors in an article to be published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in August..
Of note, appealing food porn shots, the opposite of disgusting images, also curb your appetite for junk. According to a 2013 study, scrolling through your Instagram feed and looking at endless photographs of food may actually make you want the food less .
“It’s sensory boredom," study co-author and BYU marketing professor Ryan Elder explained at the time. “In a way, you’re becoming tired of that taste without even eating the food ... You’ve kind of moved on. You don’t want that taste experience anymore.”
We'll stick to keeping our appetites for now. But hey, it's good to know photos of cockroaches and vomit serve some kind of purpose!
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