Self-deception is a funny thing in that most of us would swear we don’t engage in this behavior, which is a way of showing that we do. One theory about self-deception is that it’s an anomaly or glitch in the 200,000-year-old brains of Homo Sapiens. However, evolutionary psychiatrist Randolph M. Nesse (author of Good Reasons for Bad Feelings), maintains that lying to ourselves has a function in the survival of our species, that is, to move us along in our primary task of procreation.
As you know—if you’re honest with yourselves—the eating arena is rife with little lies. In Johare Window terms (Google it), this construct involves “what you don’t know you don’t know,” information that’s out of consciousness, aka your blind spot. Most of the time we’re unaware it exists because acknowledging it would hinder our need to feel okay. In the case of dysregulated eaters, that lack of consciousness usually involves foods made with the evolutionary laden winning ticket of sugar, salt, and fat.
Here are some fibs I hear often. You tell yourself that:
- … you’re too tired or busy to grocery shop and fill your kitchen with healthy, tasty food. You put it off because you secretly wish to have a reason to eat out which is a code word for eating things you believe you shouldn’t.
- … you need to make cookies for the grandkids because no visit of theirs would be complete without them, then spend the day making batches of your favorite baked goods. Though you’ve made them dozens of times before, you tell yourself you need to sample each batch to make sure it came out okay.
- … though you’re no longer hungry and are noticeably full, you need to finish what’s on your plate because you paid for it or may not have it again for a long time. The real reason you consume it is because you can’t stand the feeling (anxiety) of not eating it and either throwing it away or leaving it on your plate.
- … you can eat everything you want now because you’ll be starting a diet Monday.
- … food is the only way you can relax or comfort yourself, which may be true, but that’s only because you won’t learn or practice more effective ways.
- … you will eat only one of something, though you almost always fail to do so and haven’t learned the skills for that to happen (ie, mindful eating).
- … everyone else is eating a food and you don’t want to be the odd person out.
- … you might offend someone if you refuse their offer of food.
Your self-fibs may be identical to these, variations on a theme, or completely different. It’s crucial to learn how you deceive yourself around food because recognition of truth is the first step toward changing behavior. Remember, the truth will set you free!