Do you remember the story of Pavlov’s dogs? Pavlov taught his dogs a bunch of tricks. In one of the famous tricks, he rang a bell each time he brought the dogs food. The dogs salivated at the sight of the food. Soon, they learned to associate the bell with food. Instead of salivating at the sight of food, they began to salivate merely at the sound of the bell. This means that the dogs associated, or connected in their mind, the bell with food.
It turns out that we are very similar to dogs when it comes to food, as well as other habits. We build a lot of associations. Some people associate negative habits with food. For example, many people think of a food or a drink when they eat another food or drink. My children think they will get a pink lemonade every time they eat a burger. (I am purposely fighting this by not giving them the two together regularly.) My children also think they’ll get a pretzle every time we go to the mall. People tend to associate a location with food. People also associate food with doing a certain thing or with a certain person.
Think of travelers. At home, people may never a practice certain eating habit , such as eating dessert with every meal. They might do that when they travel. But they return to the same habits when they come back, they don’t maintain their travel eating habits.
This is the reason it is easier for people to quit smoking at a facility and very difficult to maintain this new habit when they return to the same habits that they associated with smoking.
Specifically, many smokers associate smoking with talking on the phone, or drinking coffee. Likewise, people who overeat typicaly have many associations with food that they habitually think they have to have.
Can you identify which behaviors you associate with eating habits that you would like to break? Breaking these associations is the subject of another blog post. You can start to pay attention to your habits and which ones seem to follow another. If you reach for a food that you think that you shouldn’t, try to think of what triggered it. This is the point that you need to think of a new strategy to alter your association. It’s possible. The first step is to identify it. But this blog post is about purposely associating good habits with certain behaviors! Read on!
You are not doomed. This learning through association can work to your advantage!
In the same way that you can learn to associate one bad habit with a behavior, you can also learn to associate great habits with a behavior!
I love to to work on people one on one, because that is the most effective way. You may reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org and write–heartmark health counseling in the subject line please. I have also written extensively about this, and soon, the books will be published. In the meantime, I will give you some specific guidelines on how to classically condition yourself. It really works! You only have your own body for this life time, and this won’t cost your health or your pocket, so try it!
Every time you hear of a habit or a food that you want to turn into a haibt, you need to take time out to think of the wonderful health benefits that you will gain from this new habit/food. For example, you will usually experience better energy. So look at the food, imagine eating it, and imagine how great you will feel after. If it will fill your hunger but leave you feeling light and with energy to clean the house, then imagine all those results. If it will help to clear your skin, then visualize that. If the books say that this food is great for your horomonal balance/vision/memory/nerves/arthritis/bones/blood/colon/prostate/… imagine the benefits. Take time out, make a HeartMark, take a deep breath, exhale, and visualize the benefits associated with eating this fresh food. Think of the taste, smell, and texture, and think of the benefits again. Think of how great you feel during and after eating it. Think of the quantity and plan the amount in advance. Plan to feel satisfied from this amount, or fix the amount you imagine in advance. You may need to adjust this step after you eat, and that’s okay. Just imagine the quantity again, before you eat more. Visualize the pleasure from the food and the benefits and the pleasure again from feeling great–all associated with this one food.
Before you know it, you will love to eat this healthy food!
You can do the opposite to teach yourself to not like an unhealthy food.
You will no longer be one of those people that complains that all the tasty food is not good for you. You will be one of those people that craves and genuinely enjoys a fresh, crispy salad and lean chicken and flavorful spices.
Enjoy! (I HeartMark You!)