Wednesday, September 1

Highly Palatable – Part II

Our last discussion explained how we condition ourselves to seek out and overeat food—based on our brain’s reaction to highly palatable foods we hear, see, smell and taste. I’m sure you can identify with a time this conditioning kicks in. For me, I don’t even have to be hungry, but I can see a Lays Sour Cream and Cheddar potato chip bag and my mouth starts watering. My brain hits high gear and I can’t even think straight until I’ve had some.
So how do we change this conditioning when we’re surrounded with brand names and images of food? Most of us can find these highly palatable foods anywhere—our work, the gym, home, we even have easy access to food in our cars! In our culture, how do we recondition our brains?
Most of us, our first reaction is a diet. “If I only quit eating these foods altogether, I’ll be able to ________!” But the kicker is that completely abstaining from these foods only heightens the conditioned reaction our brains have. You know how you’ll diet, and—inevitably—you give into a temptation. When you finally give in, doesn’t that food taste so much better than you even remembered?
So deprivation works against you. But you can’t recondition your brain while you’re still eating those foods that trigger your conditioning. What you need is a shift in thinking.
What does a shift in thinking look like? Like a woman who finds out she’s pregnant and quits smoking that day. Like a man who refuses to buy a vehicle brand he’s always purchased because it’s no longer made in America. Like a young couple purchasing their first home and pinching every penny.
Here’s a few a little closer to home: Like a mother who herself has no problem eating processed foods, but only lets her toddler eat organic foods. Like a man who discovers he’s diabetic and quits sugary sweets for good. Like a teen who makes the connection between meat and fuzzy animals and chooses to become a vegetarian.
We need to change the way that we see and respond to food, so our next discussion will hopefully offer some practical solutions on how to begin!

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