April 4, 2008

Stopping the Snacking Madness

As I mentioned in my previous post, Snacking on the Job, I've got a problem with snacking at work. I may have found a solution!

Have you heard of the new TLC show "I Can Make You Thin"? It started a few weeks ago and I recorded last Sunday's episode to my DVR. I watched it last night, and so far, I think it's genius.

From what I understand, each episode teaches a different method to stop you from overeating or snacking. The one I just saw taught me how to fight cravings.

Show host Paul McKenna, apparently known "round the world" for his unique methods, promised to help us "through the television" with these simple steps.

  • First he asked viewers to visualize your favorite food, whatever you often crave or snack on. For me, it's chips and other carby things.
  • Then visualize a food you hate, or something nasty - the examples he gave were worms, hair from a barbershop floor, or the contents of a spittoon.
  • From this point until the end of the process, press together the tips of your left thumb and left middle finger.
  • Now, visualize your favorite food combined with the nastiness. So my brain pictures Doritos swimming in a full-to-the-brim spittoon. You should be entirely grossed out by now.
  • Next, physically pretend that you're eating it. So I held out my hand and pretended I was scooping up soggy chips dripping with saliva and chewing tobacco with an imaginary spoon, put it in my mouth and made chewing motions.

If you're ready to hurl, then this method is working. I could feel my gag reflex wanting to react on its own. And that's just the point.

Paul claims that the brain cannot tell the difference between the real and the imaginary. By doing this, you are conditioning your brain to connect the sickening feeling you get with the act of pressing together your left thumb and middle finger.

Now for the good part.

  • Press together the tips of your right thumb and right middle finger.
  • Imagine something that gives you pleasure (not food). Imagine it clearly and vividly, and notice how good it makes you feel.

You are now conditioning your brain to have pleasure from good thoughts, instead of food.

The next time you have a craving, do the first set of steps focusing on the object of your craving plus nastiness, while using your left hand. Then do the second set of steps using your right hand.

My experience so far is that it works. Today I didn't go anywhere near the snack food at the office. I'm definitely going to watch the new episode this Sunday (TLC at 9/8c) to see what other tricks he has for me..

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