Play and change your food preference
Learn to reject junk food and start to choose and love healthy food.
The games are science-based and are needed for those who care about their health, beauty, and weight.
Just a hundred years ago people would not believe that these days we are concerned about how to eat less.
Nowadays, however, overeating and obesity are real problems in developed countries: we often eat when not hungry and much more than needed, we consume a lot of high-calorie food with low nutritious value.
A survey, conducted by the American Psychological Association, showed that two of the three main goals of Americans are to lose weight and to consume more healthy food (American Psychological Association, 2012).
Everyday food becomes more tempting, seducing and tasty. The food industry is trying to make us buy and consume more food, by manipulating our natural evolutionary preferences to sweet, fatty and colorful. When we are tempted by the food even knowing it is unhealthy, we go along with our human nature. But instead of going with someone's else interests and profits, we should care about our own good and health.
Our ability to say “No” to unhealthy food called impulsivity control. Studies show that people with low impulsivity control consume more palatable high-calorie food and they are overweight or obese in comparison to those people who have normal impulsivity control (Guerrieri et al., 2009; Nederkoorn et al., 2009).
However, experiments have also shown that the control can be trained. Many approaches can be used and one of them is called “Go-No Go” paradigm. It implies the usage of two types of stimuli where we must respond to one type of stimuli and do not respond to others.
In one study (Houben & Jansen, 2011) using a game-like design chocolate has been labeled as “No Go” food. After working through a few hundred slides the participants were offered with chocolate candies to eat with no restrictions. Participants from active training group consumed significantly fewer chocolate than participants from a control group.
In another recent study (Lawrence et al., 2015) people were asked to respond to images of a healthy food as quickly as possible and inhibit their response to images of calorie-dense food. The design of the study is similar to our Game 1, From Left to Right. Even after one week of training, the participants lost on average 700 grams during the follow-up month. Besides their daily food intake decreased by 220 kcal. The effect continued to work during the following six months and resulted in a loss of 2 kg on average.
After a single session the following effects were demonstrated:
- Less eating of “No Go” food,
- Less selecting of such food,
- Taking a smaller portion and,
- Starting to value unhealthy food as less attracting
In our own study conducted in May-June 2015, we formed three groups: active training group with 15 minutes of training (similar to Game 4 “Double”) every day, and two control groups. One of the control group was to weigh 5-7 time per week, another group - to weigh only at the beginning and at the end of the experiment. All participants were told to feel free to eat as they normally do.
Participants who weighed just two times per months did not lose any weight. The participants who weighed almost every day during the month lost an average 1.7 kg of their initial weight. That may seem surprising, however, it has been found in previous studies (e.g. Pacanowski & Levitsky, 2015), Active training participants lost 2.78 kg on average. The results show that the amount of training is a significant factor in getting a successful outcome.
In our games, we are using some other effects, for example, red or green frames around the food picture. This way we reinforce the choice associated with those colors - red as a "Stop" signal and green as a "Go" signal. Addition, green is the predominant color of a healthy diet, rich in vegetables.
We also use the association of "good is on the right side and the bad is on the left" (In Game 4). The effect is established in numerous studies and quite (eg, Casasanto, 2009).
Words are as effective as pictures and can form the desired reaction to food, so we use them too in our games.
American Psychological Association (2012). What Americans Think of Willpower. A survey of perceptions of willpower and its role in achieving lifestyle and behavior change goals.
Casasanto, D. (2009). Embodiment of abstract concepts: good and bad in right- and left-handers. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 138(3), 351-367.
Guerrieri, R., Nederkoorn, C., Schrooten, M., Martijn, C., & Jansen, A. (2009). Inducing impulsivity leads high and low restrained eaters into overeating, whereas current dieters stick to their diet. Appetite, 53, 93–100.
Houben, K., & Jansen, A. (2011). Training inhibitory control. A recipe for resisting sweet temptations. Appetite, 56(2), 345-349.
Lawrence, N. S., O'Sullivan, J., Parslow, D., Javaid, M., Adams, R. C., Chambers, C. D., Kos, K., & Verbruggen, F. (2015). Training response inhibition to food is associated with weight loss and reduced energy intake. Appetite, 95, 17-28.
Nederkoorn, C., Guerrieri, R., Havermans, R. C., Roefs, A., & Jansen, A. (2009). The interactive effect of hunger and impulsivity on food intake and purchase in a virtual supermarket. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders, 33, 905–912.
Pacanowski, C. R., & Levitsky, D. A. (2015). Frequent self-weighing and visual feedback for weight loss in overweight adults. Journal of Obesity, 9.