Food & Drink Magazine

How Do I Convince Myself That Healthy Equals Good?

By Gjosefsberg @gjosefsberg
no dinner = no dessert = heartbreak - MG 1168.JPG

This Is Your Subconscious When You Tell It "No Dessert!"

One of the keys to cooperation with Grok is to convince him that doing something healthy is good.  We want to get Grok on our side and keep him there.  What we don’t want is to try and fight our cravings through sheer willpower.  That way will work for a day or two and then we’re going to fail.  Remember, willpower is finite, cravings are infinite.  So how do we get Grok to believe that healthy also equals good?  The answer to that lies in some of the research now being done on how our brain makes decisions.

Just as I mentioned that most decisions are made by the subconscious brain with the conscious brain doing little other than providing justification, the same research shows that the subconscious doesn’t have much access to the facilities of the conscious.  That is, the subconscious mind doesn’t have access to our sense of vision, hearing, taste, smell and touch.  The subconscious has access to our thoughts and that’s about it.  Actually, think of it this way:

  1. We walk into the kitchen
  2. Our sense of smell and vision tell us that our wife just made a batch of brownies
  3. Our conscious brain thinks “ooh, brownies, I shouldn’t eat those because I’m trying to be healthy”.
  4. Our subconscious brain hears “brownies!” and makes a decision to eat them because it’s always craving more sugar
  5. Our conscious brain justifies this decision with “well, I’ll work out extra hard tomorrow” or “well, I was healthy this morning so I think I’ve earned it”.
  6. We eat a brownie
  7. Our subconscious brain says “MORE!”
  8. Our conscious brain justifies this by saying “well, I already ate one so the day is already ruined.  I’ll eat more of them and start being healthy tomorrow”.

Sound familiar?

The key here is teaching the subconscious that healthy is good.

Learn From Cultural Differences

Ask an American about eating horse meat and they’ll make a disgusted face.  Ask a Muslim about eating pork and they’ll look horrified.  Ask a French man about eating bugs and they’ll gag.  Why is that?  Because in certain cultures the subconscious has been taught that these things are bad.  There’s nothing inherently wrong about horse meat, pork or insects, it’s just that growing up in those cultures we’ve been taught to associate them with bad things.  We’re taught in the US that horses are not food while or that eating bugs is disgusting.  Our subconscious learns this and our bodies react accordingly.  This little trick is something we can use to our advantage.  We’re going to associate healthy stuff with good and teach our subconscious that being healthy is fun.  How do we do this?  Easy, by treating our subconscious like a two year old.

Just like our subconscious, young children don’t really have access to higher brain functions.  They don’t analyze things nor do they think them through.  They do however react to the cues of those around them.  If you’ve ever seen a parent trying to feed a child, you’ll know what I mean.  How often have you heard “oooh, eat these peas, they are soooo delicious” or “mm… this is yummy” in reference to something a child is refusing to eat?  How often have you seen a child waiting to see if the parent will eat this crap first before making a decision on it?  In fact, all of this is the parent teaching the child to identify what is good and what is bad.  Sadly, much of this education is undone by TV or by the parents themselves but it’s effective nontheless.  In fact, TV does this too.  Why do you think beer commercials have pretty girls in them?  All of these are examples of trying to get our brains to associate item X with “good!”

So let’s do the same to our subconscious.  From now on, stop thinking of being healthy as bad.  When you’re eating a salad, be cheerful about it.  Focus on the good parts of the salad.  Repeat to yourself, “wow, this tastes awesome!” When eating a burrito bowl at Chipotle, focus on the great flavors and the good texture.  When you’re at the gym working out, focus on how good you look and feel.  Think about how awesome you are for working out.  When you want dessert, don’t think “well, I can’t have that because it’s not healthy”.  That’s the kind of thinking that causes your inner two year old to throw a tantrum.  Instead, how about thinking “instead of dessert, I’m going to take an awesome walk in the sun!” or “instead of that candy, I’m going to have a delicious apple”.

I know it sounds artificial, but your inner caveman doesn’t know that.  Grok only hears “this is great!” and Grok listens and learns.  Sooner or later, Grok will start to believe and then you’re getting somewhere.

Avoid The Bad

At the same time, you need to avoid all those subconscious messages that teach Grok that being unhealthy is good.

  • TV – Every hour that you watch TV you are bombarded with dozens of messages.  Some of them tell you to go out and buy stuff and some of them tell you to go out and drink or eat something.  None of them are doing you any favors.  You’re never going to teach your inner Grok that being healthy is fun and good while you allow marketing geniuses to keep telling Grok the exact opposite.
  • Friends – Friends can be incredibly supportive or incredibly destructive.  If your friends (or family) keep telling you “oh, just one pizza” or “come on, it’s just a beer or two” that’s bad.  If they’re the kind of friend who keeps trying to convince you that being healthy is bad, stupid or pointless (“why are you going to the gym so much?  You could get hit by a bus tomorrow!”), you need to talk to them or ditch them.  Again, you’re never going to convince Grok that going to the gym is good while your social circle is telling you you’re an idiot for doing it.

Positive Thinking

Essentially, all I’m saying is to keep positive about being healthy.  Always think about the good things you’re doing, keep telling yourself you’re doing great and force yourself to think positive.  You need to become your own cheerleader because no one else can.  And yes, it’s going to sound a bit corny at first as you think to yourself “I’m awesome!” over and over, but remember, you’re not trying to convince yourself, you’re trying to convince that inner two year old.

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