Is it hard for you to say no to free food? Read this.
Many of you have told me there is FREE FREAKIN’ FOOD EVERYWHERE in your office.
I know how hard it is when there is Free Freakin’ Food Everywhere – here in after referred to as “FFFE”.
Want to know the hardest word in the world to resist?
Wait for it…FREE!
We love free. We can’t get enough of it. Give someone a free piece of junk, and they’ll take it. Actually, they’ll wait in line for it!
Give someone free food, and not only will they wait in line for it but they’ll get their friends, and they’ll ALL wait in line together!
First, let’s explore why we have such a hard time resisting free food (which is usually sugary/salty/fatty food).
We’re hard-wired to like sweets. Give a baby something sweet, and they’ll like it more than something unsweetened.
Now give anyone a combo of sugar, salt and fat and that becomes irresistible. And I mean that in every sense of the word.
Our brain loses its ability to regulate itself when we eat a combo of sugar, salt and fat. As humans we’re programmed to focus on the most ‘rewarding’ stimuli – because back in the day – – we actually had to worry about surviving.
BUT the combo of sugar, salt and fat (pick anyone of our favorite unhealthy tasting foods and snacks) has a pull on us. It overrides our brain’s natural ability to regulate itself.
There in lies the true problem.
Give me a bowl of broccoli and I’ll feel satiated after a while.
Give me a bowl of cookies and I can keep eating them and eating them and eating them and eating them and eating them and eating them and eating them and eating them and eating them and eating them and eating them (you think I’m kidding?) – no matter how much I already ate!
We lose our ability to feel full when we eat irresistible foods.
If you put a plate of cookies in front of me, it’s going to be very hard for me to focus on anything else.
Our dopamine (chemicals that make us feel good) levels are rising in anticipation of the reward. We can’t stop thinking about it…
Our brain works like that, unfortunately.
Now, without having to pay for it – which is an act that makes us STOP and think, “Wait, do I really want this?” we lose that precious time to pause.
There is nothing in our way. The floodgates are open!
So, besides me telling you the obvious to avoid situations where there is free food, we CAN fight back, and have a game plan.
In fact, having a game plan is the key.
Many times, we’re either going to a party, or a work event or some sort of planned function – that we can prepare for. The key is to mentally prepare for it.
1. For example, if we’re going to our friends house who makes the best xyz – let’s decide before we go how many we will have – if we decide it’s really worth it. Mentally rehearsing what we’re going to do before we go is a great strategy. Because when we mentally rehearse, we’re thinking with our long term, rational mind.
When we’re tempted, we’re thinking with our short term, irrational mind. In fact, that IS my definition of a temptation — anything that makes us think irrationally.
Whether it’s picturing the ball going in the hoop before we shoot a basketball, or envisioning what we’ll order and eat, it helps a lot.
2. But what happens if out of nowhere there’s just FFFE?!?! Ahhhh!
In this case, do not teeter. Do not waver. If someone put a plate of xyz in front of us right now let’s choose immediately.
“No! I don’t want this. It’s not going to make me feel good. It won’t make me look or feel better.”
“If I eat this now, I won’t feel good about myself later and tomorrow!”
But the second we start to entertain the idea, “Hmmm…well maybe if I have just one….”, we’re going to lose. Never negotiate with yourself.
It can’t be a negotiation. It has to be a quick decision.
“Nope! Not for me!” “It’s not a part of my plan!” Next thought…
If we’re watching TV with a little kid and a commercial comes on that’s really disturbing – what would we do?
Quick! Change the channel!
We can do the same. Focus on something else. Talk about something else. Snap a rubber band on your wrist.
Remember: change that channel.
3. Are the kitchens stocked with free food? Are there donuts or cookies in the cafeteria?
If we know how hard it is to say no in the face of temptation, why bother making this any harder than it has to be?
Why “just take a peak”? When we do that we’re going down a very, very slippery slope.
Remember: it’s always easier to avoid the dragon than it is to slay it. We don’t get extra points for using hero like willpower.
4. But here’s my favorite question I ask myself (yes, I ask myself lots of questions because questions are the best way to see things in a different light, and that’s the whole point) when there’s FFFE: “If this weren’t free, would I pay for it?”
And 99 times out of 100, I wouldn’t. And by asking myself that question, I’m able to pause looooong enough to quiet my short term, irrational mind.