I was recently listening to a Duke University research podcast that talked about emotions and emotional memory. Follow me, this is diet related…
Associate professor Stacy Wood mentioned her study on our ability to remember how we felt regarding various events in life. She mentions three states she observed regarding how we feel:
- How we expect to feel about an event should it occur
- How we actually feel when an event occurs
- How we think we felt during the event after it has occured
What she found was interesting (at least to me). We have expectations on how an event will feel that may not (and often do not) match the way we actually feel when the event happens. That’s not too interesting until you found out that the way we ‘think’ we felt during an event tends to match the way we ‘expected’ to feel rather than the way we ‘actually’ felt.
Did I lose you? Let me use an example – I love to eat. I love to over eat. I expect that eating a second and third dessert will feel great. Then I actually eat the second (or third) slice of pie and feel miserable. But if you ask me next week how it felt to eat three desserts today, I’m going to tell you how good it was.
How can this information help me? I’m not sure yet, exactly. But I think that if I can somehow remind myself how miserable it feels to overeat before I actually overeat, I might be able to avoid overeating.
I want to correctly remember how overeating feels. I want to expect that this miserable feeling is how overeating will feel. If I can change my ‘expectation’ regarding how eating, when I’m not hungry, will feel, then maybe I can change my actions when I’m faced with a table full of awesome looking treats at a company holiday party… 🙁