Users score points by quickly and repeatedly distinguishing fleeting images of foods for which they have an unhealthy weakness from foods considered healthier alternatives. The researchers admit they don’t quite understand why it helps reduce cravings, but have confirmed in studies that it does.
Umm, I think that’s called “mindfulness.” I think it’s pretty well documented.
It could also be called “seeing through the trick.” Once you know how a magic trick works, it no longer convinces you — you may think “that magician is clever,” but you don’t think Wow, Ooh, Ahh, Holycow, that was Amazing!
Once you know that you have a weakness for a particular food (or consumer product) and you become aware that it’s your weakness making the decision to consume it, the magical lustre or aura of that food or product diminishes. It’s like seeing behind the scenes at the theatre. Or getting over a painful crush as you realise it’s one sided! You have the deflating realisation that the magical lustre of that thing is actually created by your brain, not inherent in the thing itself. The Emperor loses his clothes, the illusion collapses, and the glow wears off.
Just being aware that you have a weakness for X is hugely empowering. Anger management classes teach this kind of awareness of our internal process; so do many therapeutic strategies that help people to stop recycling old scripts and toxic patterns. I really don’t see why the researchers are puzzled — it seems like common knowledge that mindfulness is the first step towards freedom from obsessive/reflexive behaviours.