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Have you ever been a victim of food cues? I certainly have.
I was particularly annoyed by this message I saw in a local supermarket. It encouraged shoppers to 'treat yourself' - as if offering some form of validation and recognition that you need and deserve a treat.
These kind of messages speak to your subconscious mind and evoke feelings associated with treating yourself or more specifically why you need to treat yourself. Maybe you had a bad week, you are a busy mum, you're carrying a burden or just going through a hard time - the 'treat yourself' message validates those feelings and offers a way to feel better, but the reality is the supermarket doesn't really care about you all. It's just a ploy to part with your cash and exploit your emotional situation.
Knowing this can be really helpful, you can then start to spot the food cues and emotional messages and not fall victim to this type of emotional marketing. You will be less likely to be caught off guard and will be more likely to maintain healthy ways of eating and managing your emotions.
Did you know that we all have an image of ourselves in our mind? A vision of what we 'see' and who we think we are. We then behave according to our stored image of ourselves and we then remember and store experiences that affirm that identify, and discount experiences that don't seem to fit our identity. This identity is based entirely on our past and present , it is not based in any way on any future possibilities. As human beings we always remember the bad things. You probably remember the teacher who called you lazy or a comment made by your father - but we rarely memorise the good things.
Our self identify can be a huge barrier in our progress to losing weight and our wellbeing. It keeps us trapped in the past and reinforces behaviours that make us feel comfortable with the person we think we are. For example "I don't do exercise", "I've always been a big girl/guy", "I'm not naturally healthy", "I am big and bubbly", "I'll never eat rabbit food", "my job is too stressful", "I don't have the time", "I was a bonny baby", "I can't give up X,Y,Z". All of these comments are caught up with our self image which have developed over many years and become our safety blanket so we feel like 'us'.
Dr Maxwell Maltz wrote extensively on self image when he noticed that his cosmetic surgery patients were not achieving corresponding changes in confidence - through his research he identified that his patients had an internal view of themselves based on their 'minds eye' eg the same visual self image they had of themselves before surgery.
We explore this in all of our courses to identify our own visual image of ourselves, become aware of thoughts and behaviours that reinforce that identity and how we can create a new self image/identity based on our goals and future possibiliites.
Most standard weight loss advice will tell you to eat less, exercise more - simple right? If you can't do thIs then there's something wrong with you, you're weak , a failure and you have no-one to blame but yourself. WRONG!
For most people the weight increase will have been an either a result of internal influences (stress, boredom, loneliness, unhappiness, eating to feel good) or external influences (availability of unhealthy food, food cues, food marketing and advertising, bigger food packets, use of MSG and other combined ingredients designed to make you want to eat more).
It is these external influences that drive a lot of our food behaviours. The bottom line is that we live an an obesogenic environment which induces weight gain. Did you know for example that leading ice cream manufacturers have teams of scientist researching the best combinations of fat, sugar, salt and texture to find the 'bliss point' which will make you want to eat more - that's why they put the cookies, fudge and chocolate pieces in the ice cream!
Let's look at some examples:
- increase in fast food outlets in almost every town and city
- increased 'supersizing' of larger portion sizes and buy more offers eg grab bag size crisps, 3 for 2 confectionary.
-supermarket aisles stocking seasonal treats as much as 4 months ahead of the event.
- snacks at end of aisles, eye level and checkouts - there are some really bad examples of this in non food type shops.
- coffee shops and drive thru's asking 'do you want a muffin with that' or do you want to go large for only 20p' or 'is there anything else?
- marketing that links food to emotions straplines like 'go on treat yourself', 'peace making cupcakes' (UK supermarket).
These are all efforts to grow their profits, and sadly at the expense of your wasitline, wellbeing and physical health. By knowing this and being aware of the marketing tricks to get you to consume more, it will help you to navigate the terrain more successfully and even get annoyed as I do when I notice these blatant attempts to get me to buy/eat/consume and fill their pockets.
Take this example from a recent Linkedin article by a food marketer:
"Understanding consumer needs is a foundational part of marketing and innovation. But all too often product marketers focus on satisfying consumers functional wants rather than their emotional needs, [its] not just about giving them more taste and bigger portions, its about understanding and meeting their emotional needs through food".
I find this quite disturbing, especially that these techniques are used on children too. So sometimes just remembering these ploys can help stop us becoming victims and 'giving in' to these marketing traps.
I am always interested to see examples of this to help with campaigns against this behaviour, please send us examples and images so we can use these to lobby government for change