As I’ve mentioned in previous posts on Facebook there are many factors associated with weight gain and obesity. However, Cue Reactivity, paradigm gaining momentum, is considered to be a major contributor to obesity.
A cue could be an advert on TV (think of the Magnum ice cream ads), in a magazine (Galaxy velvet), on billboards or simply passing the ‘Golden Arches’.
Equally a cue could be that every morning in work you have a scone, butter and jam with your colleagues for elevenses, in which case the cue to eat is the 11 o’ clock break.
Or having a cup of tea or coffee at any time could be a cue to have a biscuit or a bun.
Or Friday evening could be a cue to open and drink a bottle of wine.
In simply terms Cues are created when we habitually do something or associate certain foods with certain times or places or actions.
Many of our personal cues are created when we are very young. We associate certain foods with reward. For example eating all your veg at dinner may have been rewarded with sweets or ice cream, therefore you create a link between these foods and ‘treating’ or ‘rewarding’ yourself.
As children, our rewards are limited by our parents but as adults we can treat or reward ourselves as much as we want- there is no censorship!!
The thing about cues is we learn them over time. We become a human version of Paclov’s dog. We see the Golden Arches and our mouths starts to water. We finish work on a Friday and get an undeniable urge to have a glass or bottle of red. Cues are a marketers best friend, they create emotional links (I need/deserve) and sometimes physical reactions (mouth watering/sudden hunger or craving) that Spurs us into consuming.
The key to successful and sustained fat loss is identifying your personal cues and desensitizing yourself from them. There are a few ways to achieve this like Eating in one place only, ie the dining table!
Much like a craving for a cigarette, most sugar or savory cravings last for a maximum of 15mins so if you can distract yourself for that period of time then you’re over the first hurdle.
It’s an old saying that willpower is like a muscle, the more you use it the stronger it gets. There are various kinds of hunger: Physical hunger, emotional hunger and cue reactive hunger. You need to enable yourself to know the difference-You need to retrain your brain!!
Naomi McArdle MSc