How eating a single raisin can stop your junk-food cravings
Want to lose weight? Try eating a raisin very, very slowly.
You may not have heard it through the grapevine, but that's the wacky-sounding advice of Leslie Korn, Ph.D., an expert in mental-health nutrition and author of the new cookbook The Good Mood Kitchen.
Korn swears that gumming a single dried fruit for several minutes can help hungry adults short-circuit the munchies.
Here's how it works: Start by picking up a raisin and observing its grooves and wrinkles.
Give it a sniff and note your body's physical state. Is your mouth watering? Is your tummy rumbling?
Place the raisin in your mouth and turn it around, exploring the fruit's surface with your tongue.
Then slowly chew the raisin, observing its soft centre and complexity of flavour.
Swallow and remain still, imagining the fruit travelling down to your stomach.
Finally, ask yourself, "What does my body really need?"
"The raisin exercise couples our awareness with our ability to exert control over our 'automatic' reactions," Korn said.
In other words, it quashes the impulse to scarf down barbecue potato chips next time you're feeling stressed out.
According to Korn, this new wrinkle on eating raisins spurs a chemical relaxation response called parasympathetic dominance.
In this state, heart and breathing rates slow, and levels of an anti-anxiety neurotransmitter called GABA rise.
GABA receptors in the gut respond by stabilising appetite - and improving digestion when you ultimately do eat a proper meal or snack, she said.
Korn said she recommends using a raisin because its taste and texture are "dynamic."
But she admits a small bite of almost anything could work - and, yes, that includes chocolate.