VIP Psychology Online: Candy Tastes Like An Ashtray
If you were to use the e-mail psychology service of this website, you could send me a question and receive a private answer to that question. Kristin has done exactly that. And then she applied for publication of both her question and my answer. She thought that maybe more people today are concerned with the same issue she has. Therefore, she felt it right to share her question anonymously with all of you. I have edited her question and removed her personal information, just like she asked me to do. Kristin asked for a reply to the following issue:
I have been struggling with loosing weight. Every time I try to stop myself from eating too much, I realize that there are many little things that won’t allow me to stop. I was discussing this with a friend a couple of days ago. She said she wouldn’t eat cake or candy, because she thought that all sweets had a disgusting taste. But how is it possible for somebody to think that? Who doesn’t like candy at all? I thought that her way of thinking about candy was interesting though. And I figured: If I were able to convince myself that certain fattening foods are disgusting, would I lose weight?
Convincing yourself that certain things have a bad taste is a technique used very often, usually not to lose weight, but to rid yourself of an addiction. A smoker may convince himself that a cigarette is now disgusting, which therefore helps him push the pack away instead of feeling drawn to it. Technically you manipulate your mind. You tell yourself “it tastes horrible” over and over until you basically believe your own words.
Some people go even further. They think of candy and combine it in their minds with the taste of an ashtray. Candy therefore tastes like ash and will no longer be consumed. It works! However, manipulating somebody – you or any other person – equals a smart way of strong-arming them. People do not appreciate having their liberty taken away. And they do not respond with happiness to being strong-armed. Manipulation and the resulting control can function as imprisonment of the self. When you find yourself in jail, you endure, but you also strive to break out.
In other words, manipulating your mind into thinking that the taste of candy equals the taste of ash, may only be a temporary solution. When enough is enough, that temporary solution crumbles and not only do you bounce back to eating sweets, but you rebound excessively. Control can be extreme. Extreme control can very well bring extreme side effects. This is not a path with low risk and high gain. High risk and low profit is simply bad business.
The basis of your friend theory is correct. She believes that by teaching herself one thing she can lead herself to behave differently than usual. In psychology learning theory states that you can learn to behave a certain way, just like you have already learned to do so from the first days of your life. However, the goal is the prediction and control of behaviour. Being able to predict our future would allow us to have some peace of mind from time to time.
To reduce weight, you need to follow a healthy way of thinking about food. Not because your doctor says so, but because a healthy personality mirrors in a healthy body. The optimism and hope positive thinking brings along for the ride, makes your journey much easier. Say “no thanks” to sweets, but do it for the right reasons.
If at any point you have a question that you would like to publish or share, contact me. Your inquiry may help many people!