I'm not a big fan of being told what to do.
I'm even less of a fan of being tricked or manipulated into doing something.
And I'm stubborn enough to cross my arms and refuse to budge when someone tries to push me to do something...even if it's something I secretly want to do.
It wasn't until this weekend that I realized how that particular quirk of mine could be put to good use.
Remember the book I wrote about last Friday? The book called The End of Overeating by David Kessler?
Well I had a bit of time on the weekend so I've made some good headway into it. And what I've learned so far has been fascinating and more than a little disturbing.
The first section of the book is completely dedicated to the science of food production. Specifically the science of producing food that people will anticipate, crave, and, in many cases be unable to resist eating large quantities of....even when they are not at all hungry.
Turns out that, when it comes to producing a lot of the food that graces our grocery store shelves and restaurant menus, it's not about producing food that is delicious, healthy or satisfying. It's about producing food that has the right combination of fats, sugars and salt to trigger a physical response. A response that leads people to come back for more. And more.
As I continued to read, I got more and more annoyed as I thought about all the products on the market that fit this description. Those bags of sweet and salty popcorn that people bring to meetings. Chips, chocolate, fries etc etc. None of these things are good for us and yet these are the things that we are constantly battling against when cravings rear their ugly heads.
Chocolate is one of my weaknesses and I do battle every day in my head against the little voices that try to convince me to buy some.
It's one thing to crave a chocolate bar.
It's another thing to know why I crave it. Turns out that I crave it because a bunch of people did some research and figured out how to make it taste and what ingredients to include so that I would crave it. Then they make commercials and posters that advertise their products in enticing ways that make me want it even more.
They are trying to manipulate me.
Funny thing is that, since I read about how this happens, it's been much easier to resist. In fact, when Doug and I were at the bulk food store buying Easter chocolates for next weekend's Easter egg hunt, we bought exactly the number of eggs we needed and I wasn't even tempted to add one more to the bag. When we were in the grocery store and my favourite chocolate was on sale, I wasn't even tempted to toss one in the cart.
Instead of feeling that familiar ache of a chocolate craving, I felt a twinge of annoyance. I wondered if the reason it was my favourite chocolate bar was because it really was a delicious piece of chocolate or because the manufacturer got the combination of fat, sugar and salt just right to trigger the pleasure receptors in my brain.
So I've learned a few things this weekend.
Turns out that the best way to beat back a craving is not to use self control or distraction techniques. The best way to beat back a craving is to learn why the craving exists, get pissed off about it, and refuse to play their little game.