PLYMOUTH, England — Tetris may provide the key to successfully sticking to your new diet.
The classic game is already thought to possess the power to wipe out bad memories, but now researchers believe it can also help people stay on a diet or wean themselves off of cigarettes or alcohol. It only takes three minutes of playing Tetris to reduce cravings, according to a new study from Plymouth University.
“Episodes of craving normally only last a few minutes, during which time an individual is visualising what they want and the reward it will bring," professor Jackie Andrade said in a statement. "Often those feelings result in the person giving in and consuming the very thing they are trying to resist. But by playing Tetris, just in short bursts, you are preventing your brain creating those enticing images and without them the craving fades.”
Participants were asked to rate the strength of their cravings and then were split into two groups. Half of the people played Tetris, while the rest of the group sat in front of a blank screen. They were told the game was loading, but never got to play.
Three minutes later, the group that played Tetris reported their cravings were 24 percent weaker than the group that didn't get to play.
The results were published in the journal Appetite.
Researchers said other visual games could also help fight off cravings, but that Tetris may provide the perfect combination of visual stimulation and challenge. It is also easy and fun, so it would be simple for people to apply in their lives.
“We want to test this in the real world,” Andrade told NBC. “We want it to be something as simple as possible, so that people can stop their cravings and then go on living their lives.”
Once a craving has been defeated, the next trick may be to avoid becoming addicted to Tetris in its place. A condition where video games affect the way people think, even when they've finished playing the game, has been dubbed the Tetris Effect.