MSNBC ran an article last week titled “Blow your diet? Blame your brain.” It raised my hackles for a number of reasons.
- If you aren’t on a diet, you can’t blow it.
- It once again blames the victim. Or, in this case, her brain.
- The lead-up to the discussion of the studies it reviewed talked about how public service announcements “…exhorting the fat and flabby among us to get more exercise might have an unfortunate and unexpected side effect: They can inspire people to eat more….”
Hello? Just look at the words used in that sentence: “…exhorting the fat and flabby among us….” How in the world could that inspire folks to take care of themselves? Okay, maybe public service announcements don’t use words like that. But I wonder how many do use words about loving our bodies and taking care of them, as opposed to tired chatter about calories, pounds, fat, health risks, etc., etc., etc.
Two studies mentioned in this article intrigued me.
- One examined how many raisins students ate after viewing posters encouraging exercise vs. those encouraging togetherness. They ate more when contemplating exercise.
- The other showed that just the idea of low-fat turns us off. Brain reward centers actually respond less when people think a food is low fat, even if it really isn’t. End result: Less satisfaction.
I posted a few weeks ago about how I thought the phenomenon of “control fatigue” might set us up for acting in ways that aren’t in our own best interest and wonder if the results of these studies aren’t telling us something similar. Such reactions might be a signal that we’re overwhelmed with all the negativity — whether it’s perceived or real — that we see in common advice about eating and living well.
With these most recent studies, I’d say they just add more weight (pun intended) to our contention that Americans — and increasingly the rest of the world — need to seriously rethink the focus on calories, fat, pounds, the numbers and focus on how we can become intrinsically inspired to take care of ourselves.
Enough of all that guilt, worry, obsession stuff. It doesn’t help. In fact, it does just the opposite. It kills inspiration.
Do “diet” words kill your inspiration?