This year millions of people will embark upon a
The usual response to this failure by the people supplying the
blame the individual for this failure. I think it is time to move beyond this
level and look at the real reason
When most people are presented with something like a chocolate (candy) bar it
is not long before they feel a desire to eat the thing. Most will simply blame
the chocolate for causing the desire. They will then try to battle the craving
with will-power. Usually they lose this battle and sooner or later give in and
eat the chocolate bar. This “giving-in” often marks the end of the
Now lets look at why this happened. We know that the cognitive process that
caused the craving to eat the chocolate bar went something like this; sensory
input was received through the appropriate receptors [mainly eyes in this
case] and the mind formed some type of neural or sensory representation of the
object that will be defined as a chocolate bar. We can regard this process as
inescapable. If the sensory receptors are in working order, the mind must form
a representation or neural image of the object.
When a neural image has been formed we have been taught to assign meanings,
from memory, to these images when they are formed in the mind. The assignment
of meaning is followed by an emotional response appropriate to the meaning
assigned. In the case of the chocolate bar the meaning assigned included
memories of past pleasant experiences assosciated with eating chocolate
bars, hence the craving to eat this chocolate bar. So really it was not the
presence of the object that will be defined as a chocolate bar that caused the
craving, but the cognitive process outlined.
Specifically it was the assignment of meaning that caused the craving, and
because this assignment of meaning has become totally automatic in most
people, the chocolate bar gets the blame for the craving when in fact it only
had the power to cause the mind to form a meaningless image. For most, the
meaning and image have become “fused”, with the meaning now seen as a part of
the neural image itself rather than something assigned from within the mind.
This of course gives the stimulus the power to be the cause of the response.
Just thinking about or reflecting upon a chocolate bar can have the same
effect. A neural image is formed from that reflection and when it has
been formed the cognitive process of automatically assigning meaning to it is
exactly the same as with images caused by external stimulii. We still feel
like a eating the chocolate bar.
This all means of course that every time we are presented with a chocolate bar
or some other desirable food, the mind automatically creates a desire to eat
the delicacy. These emotional responses eventually wear us down and we give in
to this craving and the
My point is then, the only way to reduce our food intake and still feel
comfortable is to modify this process of automatically assigning meaning to
the images that come into our heads. Then we can reduce the need to eat
unnecessarily and modify our eating behaviour so that we can lose weight and
keep it off.
Changing our behaviour is not as easy as making a decision to go on a
need techniques that will help us to bring that change about.