Here there be monsters (socratic) wrote,
Here there be monsters

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Trick yourself into enjoying foliage

Something interesting that I've discovered about dieting is that you can get yourself to like foods that don't initially appeal to you by pairing them with stuff you really love. It's the principle that the whole concept of desert was originally based on, but that has faded in time due to the American commercialization of eating and the subsequent rise of short-term satisfaction eating. Dieting is, by definition, long term satisfaction eating. You have to teach yourself to eat stuff that's healthy in the hopes that the feelings of health and self-confidence gained from weight-loss will offset the lack of twinkies.

Anyway, the pairing and weaning method works pretty well. It's easy to implement. First you pair a food that you should eat but only mildly enjoy with one or two that you really love. To take an example from my own experience you could pair a chef's salad with a twice-baked potato and a piece of cheesecake. At first you plow through the salad to get at the potato and cake, but as you do this a number of time you start to enjoy the salad for itself and pretty soon you can drop the potato and/or cake and just enjoy the healthier food in and of itself. A lot of people talk about negative associations as a method of dieting (combine ice cream with electroshock or potato chips with thoughts of your hips and belly ballooning out) but positive associations are generally left out. There's some "reward yourself" advice, but rewarding yourself makes whatever you're being rewarded for seem like work. They've done the studies and when you pay children to draw with markers they are less likely to spontaneously choose drawing over other activities because the mere fact that they were rewarded implies that it's something that shouldn't be internally motivated. Pairing good foods with not so good foods works better, in my opinion, because it creates internal motivation. Just like the bell caused Pavlov's dog to salivate the Chef's salad will release the same chemicals that chocolate cake does after a few pairings (this will be extinguished, but an occasional cake slice can re-up the response). Simple and effective, and I think it can be applied to other aspects of life. Pair long walks with pleasant thoughts or cleaning up with your favorite music and you'll start to appreciate the disliked activities in and of themselves. Of course it CAN work the other way and you might start hating your music or thinking, but if that happens you're on your own.
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