Shannon Avana, an author and personal coach, has found that one of the most significant factors in losing weight and maintaining the weight loss it is the “level of congruence” a healthy diet has on lifestyle.
Shannon uses the word congruence with the intention. It doesn’t matter how large a social circle is, what matters is whether it feels good and supportive.
Shannon believes one type of noncongruence that people accept is being subjected to advertisements of unhealthy foods.
“When I see commercial with steaming hot cheese pizza coming out of the oven, with the smiling healthy happy woman and home lovely golden retriever and family,” says Shannon “My mouth starts to salivate with desire for the pizza. Other neurons of mine are firing reinforcing the association between pizza and happiness.”
Shannon explains that there is a subconscious reinforcement of an emotion-based belief that pizza brings happiness on multiple levels. Commercials engage as many senses as possible. They play pleasing sounds, show pleasing textures and colors. They show that eating pizza develops social connection and vitality.
“While I know on an intellectual level that this is not true, my senses witnessing this sensory stimulation causes an incongruence between my intellectual and emotional levels of mind,” says Shannon. “This is because the brain learns through the senses as well as through intellect.”
“We cannot help but be influenced at least subtly when we watch this sort of material”, says Shannon. Every time a commercial plays, it reinforces the belief that pizza is what is needed to be happy, whether the intellectual mind believes it or not.
Ms. Avana’s internal dialog was, “Wow, I really want that pizza. But I know it’s not good for me. Maybe if I just have a little be okay. It is so hard to not eat the stuff. I really want it. I feel deprived. It’s not fair that I can’t eat what I want to be skinny. Maybe I’ll have some for a special occasion. Why don’t I have more willpower? What is wrong with me? I know that if I eat like that I’m not going to look like that or feel like that. Why am I having such a hard time? This feels hopeless. Maybe I should give up now and just eat the pizza.”
Internet ads often provide a choice between being subjected to advertisements or skipping over them, something impossible in the television era.
For example on YouTube:
- Most of the advertisements on YouTube are directed at different things. Food commercials tend to be much shorter
- There is often an option to turn them off after a few seconds; do that whenever possible
- Mute advertisement for food and minimize the stimulation as much as possible.
- Use these strategies to prevent reinforcing the connection between unhealthy and fattening food and actual happiness and health, as is shown by happy, healthy people having fun in the commercials.
Shannon offers the following suggestions for watching commercials:
- Know that advertising manipulates emotions. Remember that eating healthy produces happier outcomes.
- Acknowledge the poor nutritional value of each pizza ingredient.
- Visualize what the real effects of eating pizza.
- Remember unhealthy foods produce sad, overweight, and unhealthy outcomes.
Ms. Avana suggests visualizing the commercial’s positive associations, but with healthy food.
“Understand that good food is what truly improve happiness levels”, she said. “Remember food is the building blocks of all cells. Better building materials build healthier, happier lives.”
It is up to the individual to choose which temptations are worth tolerating. Take an inventory of temptations and then minimize them.
The mall is another place awash with manipulative advertising.
The mall can feel like a war zone when trying to maintain any food program. The mall not only presents beautiful, tempting pictures of unhealthy foods, but it is also filled with smells. The sense of smell is a very fundamental sense, and smell is combined with the sight of the food triggers pre-programmed associations with happiness and the pleasure. These can be near irresistible.
- When feeling weak, or still in the process of changing these commercial-induced associations, avoid highly tempting places like the mall. Be prepared ahead of time if a visit is required.
- When suffering from low will-power and subjected to high levels of temptation, be strong.
- Eat a healthy meal before visiting the mall to avoid the lure of unhealthy food. Consider packing a healthy snack
- Keep healthy snacks close by; meetings often run over time.
- Pack a healthy food for work, and be sure to eat a healthy breakfast. Don’t get distracted and forget to prepare healthy food.
Shannon suggests minimizing hunger around the food, reducing exposure to that food, and avoid idealizing the food. These are all very powerful techniques that help maintain a food program.
To learn more about Shannon, visit http://weightlosssolutions.io