I was recently working with a client who was struggling with chocolate. She described “just wanting it”. It was so delicious that she ate more than her body needed. This is common. We often discuss food, especially things like ice cream, wine, and chocolate, in a way that creates desire. Ever watch the Food Network? The hosts try to create an image of delight, desire, and joy about the creations. They want the viewer to desire it and it works. We think about how good it will be and want to make it ourselves.
I recently caught myself having a thought that seemed innocent. “This is such an amazing sunset, a glass of wine on the deck would make it even better”. Is that even true? No, that is the lie. Rather than believing the thought, I challenged it. “Billie, will the glass of wine really make the sunset better, or is that just some BS your brain is thinking?” Just because you think it, doesn’t make it true. We want to be in tune with the conversation in our heads. Our primal brain is looking for a fast, easy dopamine rush. Not always because we are trying to avoid some horrible thing in our life, but because our brains just want it. It is both creative and fast.
Changing how we talk about food can reduce some of the desire. Quit making the candy bar, Merlot, or ice cream sound so tempting and desirable. Stop talking about food in words you would use to describe your spouse or dear friend. Neutralize the dialogue. For example, tonight we are having ground beef tacos and salad for dinner. That is a neutral sentence. You may think tacos sound good after reading this, but your brain is not getting all excited about it.
If I were to say something like, “I went to this exclusive specialty store and got corn tortillas that are made fresh to order. They are soft, tender, and incredible. They are the perfect vessel to cradle the beef that has been slow-cooked to perfection. The beef is seasoned with a spice mix that my best friend brings me from Mexico. There is nothing like it. Just the right amount of heat and sweet. My son grated three types of cheese to add and I made fresh pico de gallo and salsa. Don’t forget the batch of guacamole I whipped up with perfect avocados. These tacos are going to be amazing! You won’t want to stop eating. They are that good.” Now that is romancing the food.
I challenge you to just listen to the conversation you have about food. Be curious about thoughts that arise when you think of freshly churned ice cream or lasagna made from scratch versus raw carrots and raisins. Just listen. Your thoughts will come. You can choose to take the romance out and make them more neutral. It will create more success in approaching food as fuel your body needs to run instead of a lover you are about to embrace.