What would you do with 20 bars of chocolate?
I currently have 20 different chocolate bars in my cupboard! I’ve been trying to find the ‘best chocolate bar in New Zealand and I’ve also signed up for a chocolate subscription and so, I now have 20 chocolate bars haha!
Since stocking my cupboard an interesting thing has happened with me and my favourite food in the whole wide world… I’m losing interest. Gasp! Chocolate is losing its spark. Say what?! Don’t get me wrong, I still LOVE it, but I am definitely less excited about it. There’s a reason this happens and it’s been studied over and over again, it’s called ‘habituation’.
In the past, when chocolate was limited or restricted for a variety of reasons having a bit of chocolate was so exciting. I’d crave it, I’d enjoy it, and often, I’d overdo it. When I allowed myself a little bit of chocolate each day, I didn’t crave it as much but I still relished it and would look forward to ‘after dinner’ so I could have my chocolate.
Now, with 20 different chocolate bars in the cupboard and knowing I can have them whenever I can, the spark has dimmed a bit. I definitely don’t crave it, and I definitely don’t feel the need to eat it all – knowing that 20 bars of chocolate would probably make me pretty sick lol. So, unlimited amounts of chocolate and unconditional permission have done some interesting things to my brain, something I’ve known about for a long time, but still fascinates me to experience it.
Chances are, if you’ve ever been on a diet you’ve got a long list of ‘forbidden foods’. These foods will no doubt be the ones you crave, the ones you feel ‘addicted’ to and ultimately- the ones you lose control with. For as long as these foods remain ‘bad’ in our mind they will remain exciting and novel to us. The opposite of this, is habituation.
Habituation is defined as what happens when you are repeatedly exposed to the same stimulus – whether it’s a car, a relationship or food. Eventually, the more we become habituated to this thing, or person – the more the novelty begins to wear off.
Imagine the first time you ever flew on a plane. Everything was so exciting and new! Now imagine you have to fly on a plane daily, or weekly for work purposes – after a while the novelty just wears off. It may still be enjoyable but that level of excitement would have steadily declined.
The same happens with food. Last week I had a delicious meal, and there were so many leftovers! I was excited initially because the meal was so tasty but after the third night in a row, despite still being delicious, let’s just way I was looking forward to a change. In a nutshell, the more you eat the same food, the less less exciting it is. Sure it still tastes good but it ultimately becomes no big deal. Just like I’m currently experiencing with my chocolate saga.
There have been several studies exploring habituation in relation to food. Even with the most delicious fun foods (Epstein et al. 2009).
The problem with dieting or cutting out particular foods that we’re not allergic to is that the habituation effect isn’t able to occur. These foods remain forbidden, exciting, enticing and irresistible. Rather than simply enjoying the food, eating it is the start of the eat – repent – repeat cycle that many of us dieters have experienced so many times.
The Empowered Eating Course takes you through some gentle but powerful steps to help food lose its control over you. So if you are ready to get rid of uncomfortable cravings, binging, and the hold that food has on you. Get in touch! And no, I won’t make you buy 20 chocolate bars… unless you want to.