Fitness coach Chris Liddle and I discuss an often overlooked reason why many people struggle with their eating and their relationship with food.
People tend to, particularly people who struggle with their eating and their health, tend to fall into the trap of using food to create their source of happiness and their source of pleasure.
Basically our achievements, the things we accomplish in life, the things that are difficult: graduating, having a business be successful, getting a certification, any of the big achievements that we have—getting a promotion—all require a lot of work.
It’s an achievement followed by long periods of hard challenging work, and then another achievement; Usually a higher, better achievement. And so we get this immense sense of satisfaction and pleasure when we accomplish one of those big goals. And then we’re kind of on top of the world for a little while, and then it’s temporary and it goes away because now it just gets normal.
Then we have to start the process over again. We’ve got to do the challenging, hard, difficult work until we get to another accomplishment. That pleasure that we get from achieving a big accomplishment is chemically the same pleasure we get from eating something highly palatable—a really delicious tempting treat that we love.
The difference between the two is food doesn’t need long periods of tough, challenging work to get it again. *Snaps fingers.* We can get it like that. And boom, we got the pleasure again. And so it’s easy for people to fall into the trap of just doing that over and over and over again. Especially, like we were talking about earlier, if they’re not really set on a purpose that they have for themselves. Something big that they actually are passionate about working towards, whether it’s professionally, personally, whatever, that then gives them reason to go through the challenging, tough, hard work to get to those big accomplishments.
Both of those senses of pleasure, achievement or food, are both temporary. Food pleasure goes away when you’re done eating it. The accomplishment pleasure goes away eventually, days or weeks later, however long it takes for it to become normalized. Even though they’re both temporary, the food pleasure once it’s gone it doesn’t come back until you do it again.
The achievement pleasure, even though it goes away, we still can get a hit of positive emotion and pleasure when we think about it again. It’s a form of nostalgia. So a good example for me is, in 2018 I went to Spain to run with the bulls. That was a crazy adventure for me. It gave me a lot of pleasure in the moment.
But even now when I recollect those memories that I have, it still gives me pleasure. I still feel good about it. I like sharing that story with people. I’m not going to sit here and tell you about that cookie I had yesterday because it makes me feel so great about myself.
We can go for either form of pleasure.
One is ultimately going to serve us better in the long run, and we can’t have those big achievements without the hard work in between. But if we can define what that is, what we’re driven towards, then the temptation of getting our pleasure solely from food ceases to exist.
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