Why you eat Cookies….even when they’re stale
Have you ever taken a bite of something you have been eagerly anticipating to eat and much to your disappointment it doesn’t taste good at all? Have you ever then continued to eat the said food item IN SPITE of the fact that it didn’t taste good. Have you ever then chastised yourself for eating something, beyond what your body needed or wanted despite it not tasting good?
If so – you are definitely in good company.
Why do we do this? What could possibly cause us to eat food or a meal that we literally find distasteful or flavorless or even stale?
It’s called Food Scarcity mindset.
Food scarcity mindset is something that is internalized into our psyche at a young age. It’s often false and self-imposed. Examples of false and self-imposed scarcity:
1. You enroll or try several different types of diets each year – each with their own sets of rules, restrictions and/or regulations
2. You have been told to finish your plate always because of people who are starving in other parts of the world or in your own community
3. You feel guilty wasting food and/or feel guilty spending money on food and then wasting it
4. You often create random food rules on yourself (I’ll only have 3 bites) and then break or extend those rules much to your chagrin
5. You are filled with a sense food morality – the idea that certain foods are good or bad and you are thus good or bad for eating said foods
6. You worry that if you don’t take advantage of this special food or treat you may never have it again (dieting mentality)
So, if you resonated with one or more of these examples, it’s likely you have been or are steeped in a scarcity versus an abundance mindset.
So, here you are, finally allowing yourself to have pizza after all of these months of restriction (self-imposed or through a diet program). You taste the pizza and it’s a huge disappointment. The cheese to sauce ratio is all wrong. The crust is soggy and it the cheese has no stringiness to it. (major bummer!). But, since it’s been so long since you’ve had pizza, AND since you’re likely to restrict yourself again come Monday, you just go ahead and keep eating it anyway. You keep hoping that the second or third bite might be better knowing all the while that you’re taking in calories that are not even worth it to you. How many of you are nodding your heads right now. Eureka!
Why else would we continue to keep eating something that doesn’t even taste good?
The “Its there so I eat it” Syndrome
Quite simply you will continue to eat something that is in front of you simply because it’s there, even if it tastes crappy or stale! Brian Wansink, author of the book, Mindless Eating, did a food psychology study on this. He and his researchers divided movie goers into two groups. Group 1 received a small bucket of 3 day old stale popcorn while the other group received a large bucket of 3-day old stale popcorn. At the end of the movie researchers found that the group with the larger bucket of stale popcorn ate 30% MORE popcorn than the group with the small bucket despite it being stale! Bottom line: If it’s there you will eat it.
Finally, there is a 3rd reason why we might continue to munch on a snack or meal, that doesn’t taste good and doesn’t seem to serve you in any way.
Example: Your co-worker invites you to dinner and makes her speciality meal, which happens to be very under-seasoned and emanating a smell that slightly reminds you of dog poo. You taste it and your fears are confirmed. This meal is going to suck. But, you eat it anyway, or some of it at least. Why? Because you don’t want to hurt her feelings and everyone else seems to love it so you mightily press on, despite being full and not at all enjoying it.
So, next time you feel guilty, confused or worried that you’re eating something that you don’t even like – take comfort in the good reasons why we do this. Understand the role that dieting mentality and false scarcity brings to this phenomenon and construct your environment in a way that will at least prevent the “its there so you eat it” syndrome. I created a step-by-step worksheet on exactly how to do this and you can access it by clicking here!