Hekmat and his colleagues based the current study of food fantasies on similar studies they did in the past showing that sexual fantasies can reduce anxiety and improve a person's tolerance for pain.
Although there is no data on which type of fantasy is more effective for coping with pain, including less visceral techniques such as meditation, Hekmat suspects that those results would vary highly according to the individual and would be one area to further his research.
And compared to soothing imagery, the titillating effects of food and sex may be an effect some people prefer when they are in pain.
"Pleasurable response derived from excitement may facilitate the involvement of internal opioid mechanisms to counteract pain," Hekmat said. "Excitement absorbs attention and pleasant imagery can induce hypnotic-like states that detracts from pain, improves positive mood and reinforces personal belief in the manageability of pain."