Want to slim? Indulge in your fantasies about food

When the lure of cake or chocolate proves impossible to resist, simply think about tucking in.

Fantasising about eating your favourite food really can help you slim, according to new research.

Scientists in the US showed dreaming of a delicious meal actually reduces one's desire for it. The trick is to visualise gorging non-stop on the food, rather than conjuring up an appetite-whetting single image.

This feeds into natural mechanisms that control consumption and prevent over-indulgence, say the researchers. Study leader Dr Carey Morewedge, from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, said trying to suppress thoughts of desired foods to curb cravings was a "fundamentally flawed strategy".

She added: "Our studies found that instead, people who repeatedly imagined the consumption of a morsel of food – such as an M&M or cube of cheese –subsequently consumed less of that food than did people who imagined consuming the food a few times or performed a different but similarly engaging task."