Have you ever started a new diet only to give up two days later when you ate too many cookies at a friends party?
Have you ever told yourself, “This is the last french fry I will ever eat! Tomorrow I will be good,” only to give in and eat french fries a week later?
Have you ever felt hopeless, ashamed, out of control, or like a failure when it comes to food choices?
You are not alone. In the book “The Pleasure Trap” by Alan Goldhamer and Douglas J. Lisle they explain in detail that this behavior is normal. In fact, it is written in our genetic code.
We are genetically wired to make choices that give us the most pleasure while causing the least amount of pain and using the least amount of energy.
When it comes to our food choices we are hard wired to pick the food that will give us the most energy (the most calorie dense) with the least amount of effort (think fast food!). The problem is our genetic code is thousands and thousand of years old and developed during a time when food was scarce and hard to come by.
The food choices that we are genetically wired to want, would have helped us survive during the hunter-gatherer days, but are causing obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer, and killing us slowly and painfully.
But most of us know this already. We know that burgers, pizza, and ice cream are bad for us, and fruits and veggies are good. So why is it so hard to stop eating the food that is bad and just stick to the food that is good for us?
Graph from “The Pleasure Trap” by Alan Goldhamer and Douglas J. Lisle
It is because of habituation. Habituation is when you get used to something. During Christmas, you might walk into a house and smell the Christmas tree, but after a few minutes , you won’t even notice it is there anymore. This is habituation. The same thing happens with food. If you eat a diet high in salt, sugar, and saturated fat, at first the food will taste absolutely amazing to you. But the more you eat that way, the more your taste buds and your body will get used to it. And when you start a new diet or vow to eat healthily, that healthy food will taste bad and it will make you feel bad. It takes weeks and sometimes months for your body to normalize and feel good again. Unfortunately, most people can’t last weeks and more often than not they fail and give up. So how do we fix that?
If you’re serious about losing weight and getting healthy, how do you escape the pleasure trap?
Step 1: Fast for 24hours.
Drink only water. Letting your body get hungry, really hungry, and flushing out some of that fat, salt, and sugar with water is a great way to reset or normalize your body and your taste buds.
Step 2: After a 24 hour fast, go on a juice fast where you only drink fresh pressed fruit and veggie juices for two or three days.
Trust me, after not eating for 24 hours these juices will taste great! Your body is still healing. Flushing it with nutrients without any fat or fiber will help continue the detoxifying and normalizing process.
Step 3: Eat a low fat, high carb whole food plant based diet.
This is the optimum diet for weight loss and health. Once you have done step 1 and 2, this step will be much easier because your body is no longer used to such high fat, high salt, high sugar foods.
Step 4: Get support!
This is the most important step! Like I said, we are hard wired to choose the high fat, high salt, high sugar food choices and having support can mean the difference between success and another failure.
For more information read “The Pleasure Trap” by Alan Goldhamer and Douglas J. Lisle
Check out this Ted Talk by Douglas J. Isle: The Pleasure Trap Ted Talk
Here are some great websites: