There is much in the news today about obesity and you can be assured that the food industry fully intends to place the blame squarely on the individual, despite the fact they spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year in an effort to entice us to buy more and more of their products. Children are especially vulnerable to the advertising for cereals, snack bars, crackers, cookies, candy, and fast foods. Colorful packaging, and now even colorful foods to encourage the little shoppers to badger their parents into buying the "convenient" snack packs for them. "Mommy I want it" is exactly the result advertisers are paying to obtain. They know that many adults will give in to the child's demands, just to "keep the peace."
If you live in modern society, you can't escape advertising. How many times have you been happily minding your own business when suddenly the TV screen flashes a big, juicy, something! Your stomach may start gurgling, your mouth starts watering, and the launch sequence for hunger has begun. Once the countdown starts, nothing can stop the launch into the kitchen, or for the seriously dedicated, out the door to go get something to eat. This can happen only an hour after a big dinner. The ads are designed to do this, and they work well as we prove with our food dollars every day.
Next time you watch TV keep a note pad nearby and make a little hash mark every time you see a commercial that encourages you to eat. You'll also notice there are certain ads that seem to trigger the hunger response more than others. What is it about those ads? Do you start to mentally taste the food? Does it remind you of happy occasions? It can even remind you of unhappy occasions which then drives you to want something to eat because you "deserve" it.
Notice whether it is the people in the ad, the message itself, the words they use, even the background music or scenery? See if you can pin-point what, exactly, it is about the ad that draws you in. Notice what you don't like about ads that simply do not interest you. Play college student and do this as homework, and if you can get your kids to do it with you, all the better.
My son has come to me many times to tell me about something he's seen on TV and now wants me to buy. He gets caught up in the half hour infomercials and becomes so convinced their product is the single best thing, that it's difficult to change his mind.
Evenings are an especially rough time for dieters because of the over abundance of advertising for food. Seeing delicious things to eat can create the sensation of hunger until it becomes a patterned response. Turning on the TV then begins to make you hungry, even without the food cues.
1. Mute the commercials or switch to another channel (channel surfers already do this anyway). Not watching or hearing the ad can help enormously. Remember, out of sight, out of mind.
2. Use commercial break time to do housework. You'd be amazed at how much clutter you can clear in three or four minutes, and every hour you get at least four of these breaks.
3. Mute the ads and keep your hands busy until your show comes back on with a project like knitting, reading or finishing that book you've been writing.
4. Start a new business (then you're probably not in front of the TV anyway).
5. Step outside and breath some fresh air for a few minutes.
6. Exercise during the ads. Stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down, do this for a full minute. It's a great leg exercise. Use a kitchen chair rather than the couch to be kinder on your knees.
7. Move to another seat in the room. Sometimes just getting up from your usual spot in the room (the coach, or your favorite chair) and moving to another location can help, so can getting a glass of water. Sometimes it's thirst.
The worst thing you can do is simply watch and then attempt to combat your growing desire to eat. Once the idea that you're hungry is planted, it becomes much more difficult to change your mind. Instead stop the idea from occurring in the first place by finding something else to do instead of watching another Burger King commercial.
Advertising only works when we're paying attention, either watching or listening. I've no quarrel with advertisers, I advertise my services too, but watching one hundred ads all featuring food after dinnertime is a bit much for anyone to endure. Food ads are designed for you to simply sit and be mesmerized by the flashing words, snappy slogans, colors and lights. Pay closer attention, or pay none at all, but either way you'll gain a much greater understanding of how advertising influences you.
~~ Kathryn Martyn, Master NLP Practitioner, EFT counselor, author of the free e-book: Changing Beliefs, Your First Step to Permanent Weight Loss, and owner of OneMoreBite-Weightloss.com
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