View It, Don’t Chew It!

Visualization is a powerful tool and can help you lose weight, reduce stress, and enhance immunity. We think in words and images every day, and our thoughts lead to actions. If we harness the capacity of our minds for positive change, we are using one of the most powerful tools available to achieve lifestyle goals.

Here’s any easy way to use visualization to reduce over-eating and to avoid unhealthy food choices. Make a list of your top three tempting treats. Next, imagine the result of having eaten a particular food in the form of a powerful and vivid visual picture. Have fun with this exercise and be creative! Let your mind run wild, making associations between your favorite indulgences and their negative effects. Remember what you learned at Pritikin and your own health and weight goals when you’re developing your own visual binge blockers!

Here are two examples I created for my own use that have helped me eliminate unhealthy choices from my life:

  • I adore runny French cheeses, but want to keep my cholesterol down. Whenever I think of or am offered cheese: I imagine the soft, yellow cheese in a syringe, injected directly into my arteries! This visual is enough to stop temptation in its tracks. I want to avoid heart disease more passionately than I want the Brie. This vivid picture makes a “healthy no” easy.
  • I’m a New Yorker, and I’ve always loved “real” New York bagels. Despite the hole, and the lack of fat, bagels are jam packed with empty calories. When I used to indulge in them, the results appeared around my waist. I could almost feel the bagel circling my middle! When I see one of these round chewy scoundrels, I imagine the thick dense bagel in the form of a fleshy, perfectly round bulge circling my waist! Imagining my middle-aged waist getting thicker (a cardiac risk factor) is enough to move me past the deli, escaping with my waist-to-hip ratio intact.

These visualizations are also visceral; they help you actually feel the effects of indulgence before you engage in it. And as they say, a picture’s worth a thousand words. Combining a vivid picture with your thoughts enhances your ability to avoid poor food choices. So, make your list, create your images, and when tempted, call up your mental illustration and you’ll view it, not chew it”!

Have a relaxing, healthy week,

Susan E. Grober, Ph.D.

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