This is a guest post by Adam Gilbert.
Is it me or is there is free freakin’ food everywhere?
Many companies spoil their employees with all sorts of free food, all day long. But Free Freakin’ Food isn’t just at the office. It’s at parties, events, get-togethers, etc. I know how hard it is when there is Free Freakin’ Food Everywhere – hereinafter referred to as “FFFE.”
We love free. We can’t get enough of free. Give someone a free piece of junk, and they’ll take it. In fact, they’ll even wait in line for it. Give someone free food, and not only will they wait in line for it but they’ll get their friends, and they’ll all wait in line together!
Why do we have such a hard time resisting free food (which is usually sugary/salty/fatty food)?
We’re hard-wired to like sweets. Give a baby something sweet, and they’ll like it more than something unsweetened. Now give anyone a combo of sugar, salt and fat and it becomes irresistible. And I mean that in every sense of the word.
Our brain loses its ability to regulate itself when we eat a combo of sugar, salt and fat. As humans we’re programmed to focus on the most ‘rewarding’ stimuli, because back in the day we actually had to worry about surviving.
But the combo of sugar, salt and fat (pick anyone of your favorite unhealthy tasting foods and snacks) has a pull on us. It overrides our brain’s natural ability to regulate itself.
There in lies the true problem.
Give me a bowl of broccoli and I’ll feel satiated. Give me a bowl of cookies and I can keep eating them and eating them and eating them and eating them and eating them and eating them and eating them and eating them and eating them and eating them and eating them (you think I’m kidding?) – no matter how much I already ate!
We lose our ability to feel full when we eat irresistible foods.
If you put a plate of cookies in front of me, it’s going to be very hard for me to focus on anything else.
Why? Well our dopamine (chemicals that make us feel good) levels are rising in anticipation of the reward. We can’t stop thinking about it – or can we?
Now, without having to pay for it — which is an act that makes us actually stop and think, “Do I really want this?” — we lose that precious time to pause. There is nothing in our way. The floodgates are open!
So, besides me telling you the obvious — avoid situations where there is free food — we can fight back. We just need a game plan. In fact, having a game plan is a big part of our strategy. Many times, we’re either going to a party, or a work event or some sort of planned function that we can prepare for. The key is to mentally prepare for it.
For example, if you’re going to your friend’s house who makes the best xyz, decide before you go how many you’ll have and decide if it’s really and truly worth it. Mentally rehearsing what you’re going to do beforehand is a great strategy. Because when you mentally rehearse, you’re thinking with your long term, rational mind.
When we’re tempted, we’re thinking with our short term, irrational mind. In fact, that is my very definition of a temptation: anything that makes us think irrationally. Whether it’s picturing the ball going in the hoop before we shoot a basketball, or envisioning what we’ll order and eat, thinking it out helps a lot.
But what happens if out of nowhere there’s just FFFE?
Before you go in for the goods, take a moment to pause and think: “No! I don’t want this. It’s not going to make me feel good. It won’t make me look better or feel better” or maybe “If I eat this now, I won’t feel good about myself later and tomorrow!” But the second you entertain the idea, “Maybe if I have just one…” you’re going to lose. It’s practically impossible to negotiate with ourselves.
It has to be a quick decision: “Nope, not for me! It’s not a part of my plan!”
If we’re watching TV and a commercial comes on that’s really disturbing, what would we do? Change the channel! You can do the same with FFFE. Think about something else. Talk about something else. Snap a rubber band on your wrist. Leave!
Remember: change that channel.
But here’s my favorite question I ask myself (and I ask myself lots of questions because questions are the best way to see things in a different light, and that’s the whole point) when there’s FFFE, “If this weren’t free, would I pay for it?”
And 99 times out of 100, if it weren’t free, I wouldn’t pay for it. And by asking myself that question, I’m able to pause long enough to quiet my short term, irrational mind.
Adam Gilbert, is the Founder and Chief Body Tutor of MyBodyTutor, a company he created in 2007 to help people finally stick to their diet and exercise plans. Since then, MyBodyTutor has helped hundreds of people throughout the US and world get the body they want with its proven methods and system.