Thursday, June 28, 2012

Hint #2: The Pleasure Memory Release Valve

Recently, I decided to start eating healthier. One of the great side benefits of this is, that I started to lose weight. This essay came out of the experience:

I have this theory, and I'd like to share it with you.  It has to do with the brain's relationship with losing weight…. Okay, so - I'm sure you've heard the term "muscle memory". A good example of this is when you haven't riden a bicycle in a long time, yet you can still climb on that bike years after your last ride and pedal away as if you never stopped. Your muscle memory takes over allowing you to use skills you acquired a long time ago.

I believe there is an area of the brain where your "pleasure memory" is stored. Pleasure memory takes over the moment you see a bowl of ice cream, smell cinnamon buns baking in the food court at the mall or drive past the golden arches. Now, I also believe that you can train your pleasure memory to think of certain foods as pleasurable that are more beneficial than the food you are trying to cut out of your plan. However; in the beginning, it seems quite daunting and this is where a lot of us simply give up. This is because we are so determined to adhere to that plan so strictly, we feel like we're almost torturing ourselves to do it. Finally, one day, you just start eating recklessly because it's just too hard to go through the pain of  starting all over again. That's why I am suggesting the "Pleasure Memory Release Valve".  So, what does this mean? Am I saying you should go ahead and cheat on your meal plan?

Well, yes and no.  What I'm saying is, we're all human. And if you hold yourself up to superhuman standards, you're going to end up being sorely disappointed in yourself. Or beat yourself up to the point where you feel like a failure once again. And then you'll eat to make yourself feel better and the whole vicious cycle starts over.  What I AM suggesting is this: When you're first setting out to change your lifestyle, you might very well cave in. You're basically trying to teach your taste buds to try things you've never had before, or eat things you never liked in the first place.  During this process of teaching your pleasure memory to find pleasure in new tastes and forget to like what's bad for you, you might occasionally slip. When this happens, think of this as your release valve. Use it sparingly, but don't tell yourself "It's over, I can't do this anymore" and then go back to killing yourself with junk food, fast food and chemically enhanced frozen dinners. Just tell yourself, "I turned on the release valve. It was a temporary measure to keep the boiler from exploding." Then go right back to your meal plan right away.

Eventually, you won't need that release valve. Remember, too that there are many tasty foods in the meal plan that you may very well have forgotten that you like. For example, I had forgotten how much I enjoyed an orange, grapefruit, watermelon and other fruits. Some foods you can learn to like, and you can find things to substitute for the foods you'll never acquire a taste for or to which you're allergic.

If any of you in the nutrition field wish to contribute, please feel free to add a comment. 

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