Respect Your Future Self
Self-destructive habits can range from smoking, to sleep deprivation, to unhealthy eating. The task of quitting a bad habit, such as eating ‘junk’ food, is hard. In the present moment, we get instant gratification from eating foods, such as Oreos. This food is manufactured to be addictive and it’s difficult to stop at one, so we often devour the whole sleeve of cookies.
When we overindulge on junk food, we get an instant hit of sugar that releases a large amount of dopamine to the reward centers in our brain. Dopamine is a chemical in the body that plays a role in reward-motivated behavior. Most addictive drugs (sugar included) increase the levels of dopamine in the brain and make us crave and eat more.
The reason we struggle to change this type of behavior is because we are living in the present moment, and not weighing the pros and cons of each decision. Egonomics is a theory by Thomas Schelling that proposes we have two selves that are often at odds. You have a present self, who wants to devour a box of cookies, and your future self, who regrets your lack of restraint.
We think: Eating these Oreos are going to bring me enjoyment NOW.
We don’t think: This habit of eating Oreos could lead to obesity, health problems, self-esteem issues, and high medical bills LATER.
The answer to this dilemma is to replace the bad habit with a good habit that you enjoy immensely. Instead of eating a sleeve of cookies, sit down to your crocheting or take your dog for a walk. Focus on the enjoyment of the new habit and consistently replace the old action with the new one.
If you still want cookies, have a cookie! Diets that are too restrictive will backfire. Go out and buy yourself one cookie to enjoy, rather than diving into an entire box of cookies when Girl Scout season rolls around.
By Conner Edelbrock