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Could playing this video game be the secret to eating healthier?


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Photo: Stocksy/LiorLone

Did you ever think that eating healthy was all fun and games? (Probably not, if you’re kicking the sugar habit right now—that can be a battle fought at Game of Thrones-level intensity.) Well, thanks to a new app developed by scientists, keeping it clean can be a good-for-you good time.

Psychologists at the University of Exeter in the UK have developed a game you can download to your phone that’s designed to curb your cravings for junk food and lead you to healthier food choices, reports Munchies. They claim that, by playing it for only 10 minutes a day, you’ll be more likely to reach for greens.

The game plays into the brain’s reward system—just as eating junk food feels like a reward, Food Trainer reverses that by rewarding you for picking nutritious foods instead.

To test this, the researchers recruited 83 adult volunteers to play the game four times a week for a few minutes each time. The results? They ate roughly 220 fewer calories per day.

Just what type of magical game is this? It’s called Food Trainer, and it displays images of both healthy and unhealthy foods. The user has to pick only the healthy foods in order to score points in the game (which right now is only available for Android users).

The game plays into the brain’s reward system—just as eating junk food feels like a reward, Food Trainer reverses that by rewarding you for picking nutritious foods instead.

The best part? According to lead research Andrew Jones, PhD, not only did the game result in people making way healthier choices virtually, but IRL too. “The study goes one step further and shows some beneficial effect of training these behaviors in the ‘real world,'” he told Munchies. Sounds like a sweet victory.

As far as smart eating goes, these are the sugar rules everyone should be following. Or, take some pointers from Karlie Kloss and Kate Middleton on sweet tooth strategies—and recipes!