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Hack the Holidays | Hack #12 - Liking > Wanting

Liking > Wanting

Desire of food comes in two forms, which are very different: wanting, and liking. Here’s a scenario to illustrate. 

You’re staring at a bowl of sour cream & onion chips. It just sits there, offering up its services. It’s tantalizing you. After a great, 5-minute effort your willpower dwindles, and you pick up one or two chips just to satisfy the craving, (do you really stop at two, though?) 

Pause a moment. In a list of the 50 best foods you’ve ever eaten, where do sour cream and onion chips rank? Probably nowhere. How about top 100? So why is the pull so strong in this one instant?

Now imagine next to the bowl of chips is a single square of very high-quality, rich, dark chocolate. Instead of reaching for the chips, you put the square into your mouth. Rather than chewing, you allow your body heat to melt the dark chocolate on your tongue. You close your eyes and experience, really experience the melting, the sweetness, and the creaminess of the chocolate…

Liking vs. Wanting

It’s been shown that people with over-eating disorders don’t necessarily like food any more than the rest of us. But they do want it more. Liking is the conscious awareness of an external stimulus or internal process - you actively like how the chocolate is melting on your tongue. Wanting is a subconscious process that happens in the brain without you noticing - the sub-par chip pulling your hand toward the bowl before you can even fight back.

Liking is, “I need that recipe.” Wanting is, “why’d I eat that?!”

Here’s the kicker: you can use liking to supersede wanting if you’re smart about it. How? Quality over quantity. 

Back to our original question: how do I avoid eating the entire cinnamon knot simply because it’s the only time of year it’s on the table? 

Make your experience with it logical: 

  1. Consciously decide where the cinnamon knot ranks on your top 10, (not in the top 10? Find something that is!)
  2. Based on that ranking, decide on a quantity that you can really enjoy without regretting later.
  3. Don’t just eat it. Experience it. Focus all your attention on the cinnamon knot as you’re eating. Appreciate the tiny grains of cinnamon, how they feel in your mouth. Is the middle soft while the outside is crispy? Let one or two bites just dissolve on your tongue a moment before chewing. This is the best cinnamon knot you’ve ever had.

Skip the chip. Skip the Walmart apple pie or the candy cane. Just because they’re elusive desserts you only get this time of year does not mean you actually (top 10) like them. Instead find something you love, and experience it. Your appetite will be more quickly and fully satisfied, and you’ll have lived one of the most enjoyable experiences known to mankind: eating really good food, and feeling happy about it now and later.


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1 comment

  • Great message. I guess my problem is that everything seems to be in my top 10.

    • Franklin Schubert