Monday, September 6

Highly Palatable – Part III

We’ve been talking about highly palatable foods—those high fat, high salt, high sugar foods that we can’t resist.  Studies are finding that these foods are conditioning our brains to compel us to overeat these foods.  I am learning fascinating things in David Kessler’s The End of Overeating!  The gist is that people no longer eat to satisfy hunger, but eat to stimulate their brains.
In order to conquer the conditioning that leaves us feeling powerless over food, we need to change our thinking.  It’s not easy.  I have a lot of conditioned eating in my life that I have yet to take complete control over.  But it’s crucial to our health that we begin to take control.
We first need to be aware: with awareness, I can recognize that a cue is going to trigger a conditioned response in me.  For example, my husband and I stop by the grocery store on our way home from church to grab sandwich fixings for lunch.  When I’m aware of my cues (passing the bakery section on my way to the deli), I can stop the cycle before it even begins (I can head to the produce section and send my husband alone to the deli so I’m never even near the bakery).  We may be unaware of habits in our lives; becoming aware of our cues and triggers may take some practice and determination.
We can also create competing habits and thinking that will help to replace our old ones.  Competing habits look like taking a different route to work in the morning to avoid coffee shops or changing your routine in the evening to avoid the kitchen pantry.  Habits that help to completely avoid beginning that cycle of conditioned overeating.  Competing thoughts will help to change your perspective on trigger foods.  Instead of thinking about how you could justify having just one M&M (which we all know will lead to twenty), you could think of specific ways you can take control of the situation (like leaving the room) or of how good you’ll feel if you don’t give in.
But the most important piece is support.  I have many different levels of support in my own life: close friends aware of my struggles, teachers at my gym who encourage me, a personal trainer for when I need a kick in the butt, a counselor when I really need to dig in to a problem, and my blog to help keep my accountable.  I can’t stress enough how important having a support system in place is to your ability to lose the weight an keep it off.

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