This year a lot of people will plunge into a diet and fail to lose weight. The people marketing the diet's usual response to this failure blame the individual for the loss and makes them feeling defeated and guilty because of their lack of will to lose weight.
The idea that diets are an effective approach to reduce weight is also maintained by blaming the individual. I believe it is past time to shift the conversation beyond "blaming" and look at the true reasons why diet fails.
When most people are presented with a chocolate bar, it doesn't take long for them to feel compelled to devour it. Most people will simply blame the desire for the chocolate. They'll then use "will-power" to fight the craving. They usually loose this battle and eventually cave in and consume the chocolate bar. This "giving in" is frequently associated with the termination of a diet.
Let's take a look at why this "giving-in" happened. We know that the process that caused the desire to eat the chocolate bar went like this: sensory input was received through the appropriate receptors [in this case, the eyes], and the mind formed some type of neural or sensory representation of the object that would be defined as a chocolate bar. We can think of this procedure as unavoidable If the sensory receptors are functioning properly, the mind must create a representation of the item in the form of a neuronal image.
We've been taught to attribute meanings to these images as they appear in the mind once a neuronal image has been established. Following the assignment of meaning, an emotional response corresponding to the ascribed meaning is given. The meaning attributed to the chocolate bar contained memories of pleasurable experiences linked with eating chocolate bars, resulting in a desire to eat this chocolate bar. So it was the cognitive process indicated, not the existence of the thing that would be identified as a chocolate bar, that generated the yearning.
The need was specifically triggered by the assignment of meaning. Because most people automatically ascribe meaning to objects, the chocolate bar is blamed for the yearning while it just has the potential to lead the mind to construct a meaningless image. The meaning and image have become "fused" for most people, with the meaning regarded as an inherent element of the brain image rather than something assigned from within the mind. This, of course, offers the stimulus the ability to trigger a reaction.
It has the same effect as thinking about or reflecting on a chocolate bar. From that reflection, a brain image is generated, and once generated, the cognitive process of automatically assigning meaning to it is the same as it is for images created by external stimuli. We're tempted to consume the chocolate bar.
This implies that if we are confronted with a chocolate bar or another delectable item, our minds instantly go through the cognitive process stated above and create a desire to eat it. The constant emotional responses wear us down in the long run. This is why we "cave in" and throw the diet out the window.
My thesis is that the only way to limit our food intake while being comfortable is to change our instinctive process of assigning meaning to the images that enter our brain. This way, we may decrease our desire to eat unnecessarily, and, as a result, we must adjust our eating patterns.
Diets do not provide these skills, and in fact, they fail the individual rather than the other way around, as their proponents would have you believe. Most of us would have changed many things about ourselves long ago if altering our behavior was as simple as deciding to go on a diet. The truth is that we need techniques to assist us in bringing about that transformation, or we will fail.
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