How rational are you about your eating and weight? Perhaps you haven’t given much thought to the subject. If so, you won’t get far in changing your beliefs or behaviors.
Some thoughts from a winter lecture I attended on rationality and intelligence.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines rational as “based upon reason; logical,” and irrational as “contrary to reason; illogical.” Being human, we have the capacity to be both rational and irrational; it’s part of our genetic make-up, coded into our DNA. An interesting note: you might assume that there’s a correlation between being intelligent and being rational. In fact, IQ does not equal RA (rational quotient)! Ironically, highly intelligent people are more likely to cloak illogic and false assumptions in sophisticated illusions to shield themselves from seeing the truth.
There are two causes of what’s called disrationale. One is that our brain relies on short cuts to take care of us. It approximates answers to get rapid solutions because it often has to make on-the-spot decisions. If it can come close enough by responding quickly, it’s done its job. Another cause of disrationale is that the brain is not finely tuned to the nuances of reality. Cognitive illusions are part and parcel of how the brain perceives the world because it lacks the specific training it needs in every area of life to think logically.
How do we become more rational? We become more skeptical. The more curious and questioning of reality you are and the more demanding of proof that this is so or that isn’t, the more likely you are to think rationally. Additionally, you must re-educate your brain in critical thinking skills by fact-checking and testing every thought and assumption you have. You have to train your brain to accept only evidence that meshes with reality. You can’t rely on emotions or perceptions, nor base vital decisions on passing whims, hopes or wishes. Another process which can move you toward rationality is the discomfort of cognitive dissonance: recognizing that your thinking doesn’t match reality. Rather than engage in denial, with recognition, you can consciously assess reality and—this is key—change your perception to match the evidence.
If you want to act rationally around food and weight, you have to bite the bullet and stop living in a fantasy world where there are no consequences and wishing makes it so. You can do this by thinking critically (a most valuable life skill) which means examining every belief you have about food/weight/eating. You must look reality squarely in the face and accept it as true whether it makes you uncomfortable or not. Rationality rules!