Our family had a member that loved to eat. Have you ever met anyone like that? He wasn’t one of those 600 lb. blimp jobs you see on TLC but he was overweight and every occasion I saw fit, I reminded him that he was digging his grave with a knife and fork. Today, when we know all of the data about diet and exercise, why do people still ignore the facts and treat their bodies like a trash heap? You can’t be surprised with the results when you take these kinds of actions.
I’ve always had a keen interest in human behavior. Why do we do what we do and what are the motivations behind it? Many times, people do things that are counter intuitive and we wonder why someone did something that was so obviously a bad choice. The more I read and study about human behavior, the more I realize that it is much more complex that we realize.
Behavioral psychology and sub specialties in that general field started with the premise decades ago that people were rational creatures and that when properly armed with the facts, we would do things that serve our rational best interests if given choices. Today, we have learned that this is not the case. Many times, do we not only choose something that is not in our best interests, we choose something that is diametrically opposed to our best interest.
Yet, when we are faced with a problem or issue, the talking heads and leadership discuss educating people and that “if we educate the public, they will make the right choice.” Human behavior science tells us that this is simply not the case. Regardless of the educational abilities and educational depth of a given segment of society, choices are still made that aren’t in the best interests of the group or the individual.
As a result, we need a new approach to diet and exercise. When you approach diet and exercise from the perspective that you are not a rational actor, you start to understand how you need to motivate yourself and those you love. The first step is to realize that whether we like it or not, we are all drug addicts. You might say, “wait a minute there, I was with you when you said we didn’t choose rationally but I have never taken a drug in my life!”
My response is simply, you don’t have to take any drugs to be a drug addict. The reason people take drugs is the response they get from their bodies and most importantly, their brain. With the right input, your body and brain release chemicals (drugs) that can greatly alter mood, pleasure, pain, satisfaction, and many other facets.
If you realize that you are eating that chocolate cake because your brain is releasing dopamine that gives you the same high that might come from a heroin dose, you realize that you are fighting powers that greatly exceed your ability to make a rational choice.
So if someone in your family tells you that you are digging your grave with a knife and fork, realize that you may need to get some outside help because you are addicted to food just like someone can be addicted to alcohol, drugs, gambling, or other addictions and it might take more than just willpower to overcome it.