Diet sabotage takes many forms.
Sometimes, it’s the voice in your head luring you like a siren to abandon your healthy resolutions and indulge just… this… once…
But other times, it’s not you, it’s them. Your friends and family, your waiter, the advertiser telling you that you need a Coke to be happy. You could strap yourself to a ship mast and pour wax in your ears, and they’d still find sabotaging you – forgive the pun – a piece of cake.
Being swayable is a simple fact of human psychology. It’s part of being adaptable, learning and forming communities that keep us safe. Unfortunately sometimes being part of the group can have terrible consequences for our health.
So why exactly do we turn to butter in the face of food sabotage? These brain phenomena hold some clues:
1 – Mirror Neurons
When you watch another person do something, the same neurons fire in your own brain, as if you were actually doing it. Mirror neurons seem to explain why people often imitate the behavior of those they are observing. At times, this response can save our lives. At other times, it can lead us to watch the person in front of us at the salad bar drench her salad with creamy blue cheese dressing, and we automatically reach for the blue cheese ladle too. The mirroring reaction is even stronger if we identify with the person we’re observing.
2 – Body Language
Just like a child can gauge how pliant her parent is, people can sense when you really want a cupcake. It could be due, in part, to those mirror neurons, which evolved to help us read other people and predict what they’ll do next. When you say you’re not having dessert with your meal, people naturally listen to your body language, your eyes and your tone of voice. If they detect that you might be persuaded, they will persuade you, perhaps without even realizing that they’re going against what you actually said.
3 – Submitting to Authority
Authority is one of the most powerful elements of persuasion—we’re practically hardwired to be bossed around. It’s a handy response when it comes to obeying the law and our parents. Not so handy when it comes to people who are telling us—confidently or forcefully—to eat junk. According to psychologist Robert Cialdini, one of the sneakiest examples occurs at restaurants. Waiters conspire to make sure we “enjoy ourselves” because the higher the tab, the higher the tip.
Cialdini reveals the tactics of Vincent, a waiter who was skilled at getting people to double their orders. When serving a man and woman, he would intimidate the man into ordering for both of them—and ordering well. When serving a large party, he’d win their trust with modest suggestions and a display of expertise, then after dinner, with a commanding air, he’d steer even the staunchest dieter into ordering the chocolate mousse.
How to Stop Sabotage
We may be hard-wired to cave in, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t reconfigure our wiring. It’s critical in order to eat healthy in our current culture.
When we’re 100% resolute in making healthy food choices, there IS no unexpected order of chocolate mousse… but of course, rarely are we 100% resolute! Deep down, most of us are teetering. Cialdini says the trick is to remove the element of surprise: be prepared for sabotage and be ready to counteract it.
How to prepare? To the rescue, IdealShape is re-launching the “Stop Weight Loss Sabotage” hypnosis CD, which David Meine created to help IdealShapers deal with sabotage from other people and from within. Hypnosis has the unique ability to target the conscious and subconscious mind at the same time. So not only do you mentally rehearse your response to sabotage so that it becomes automatic, but your deep-down beliefs begin to change too.
David’s book Think: Use Your Mind to Shrink Your Waistline is another important resource for learning to recognize weight loss sabotage in its sneakiest forms. The book includes tools for preventing sabotage and can be purchased at a discount with 2 or more hypnosis CDs.
Imagine being so confident in achieving your ideal shape that you can turn down the chocolate mousse with your eyes, your body language AND the tone of your voice, even if it IS the waiter’s “personal favorite.” In fact, you’ll be so resolute that he probably won’t dare harass you about it in the first place!
Ready to train your brain to stop weight loss sabotage dead in its mousse tracks?