chocolate1Wonder why you get hit with so many cravings for ooey, gooey, salty, sweet, crunchy, fatty, yummy foods during the second half of your cycle?

Part of the problem is rising progesterone in Week 3 of your cycle (which starts right after ovulation). This hormone pushes you to eat more calorie-rich foods in case you got pregnant during ovulation in the middle of your cycle and are now eating for two.

The other reason for your munchies is plunging estrogen in your premenstrual Week 4. As your body’s level of estrogen falls, it depletes your brain of mood-regulating serotonin. As a result, you’re more prone to emotional eating and are more drawn to carbohydrates (like doughnuts, cookies and chips) because it helps the brain produce more of this key mood-enhancer you’re now lacking.

So, how can you rein in these hormone-fueled cravings if you’re watching your weight or your health?

Researchers have a fun solution: Play Tetris! In a new study in the journal Appetite, just three minutes of playing this classic video game weakened food cravings by an impressive 24%, helping players get over their food desires.

How’s it work: Tetris takes over parts of your brain needed for visual tasks so you stop picturing snacks and focus only on the falling blocks instead. And since cravings generally only last a few minutes at a time, a short three-minute burst of play-time is all it takes, the researchers say.

Want to try it for yourself? The next time a food craving hits you, log onto FreeTetris.org where you can play the game for free (no downloads required) anytime.

Not a Tetris fan? Any game or task that requires a lot of visual focus–like Taipei or Solitaire–would probably work just as well.