Finally: The Science Behind Why You Can't Stop Reaching For Those Doughnuts

Photo: Cameron Whitman

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It's hard to come by in the digital age, but every so often a great book, a compelling work project, or a fun personal project can send us to a flow state. And according to new research, there's one thing that can snap us out of that real fast: a box of doughnuts. Or more specifically, calorie-dense foods.

For the study, researchers at Johns Hopkins University asked 18 participants to classify a set of symbols that had no connection to food at all. At some point during the test, a picture of food would randomly flash on the screen they were working on. Interestingly, when they were shown a photo of an energy-dense food—such as a doughnut, candy bar, you get the picture—they were much more easily distracted than when they were shown either nonfood objects or low-calorie snacks.

"This suggests that participants rapidly and implicitly assessed the nutritional value of the distractor images presented to them, even when they were entirely irrelevant," explains study author Corbin Cunningham. "Our results also provide strong evidence for distraction by foods that have a higher energy density, even when they are entirely irrelevant to a task."

So if you're on a deadline, make sure to keep those high-calorie, super-distracting foods as far away as possible. You'll be a whole lot more productive, and as an added bonus, you'll keep your blood sugar in check.

Want to eat healthier? Here are the best foods for a hormone-balancing diet.

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