A recent study out of The Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University discovered that if you ask kids to choose between apple slices or French fries with their lunch, and you ask them "What would Batman eat?" they will choose the apple slices over the fries 45.5 percent of the time vs. 9.1 percent of the time. That's a big difference. The idea being that Batman is someone to look up to and kids want to make the healthiest choice to emulate a Superhero.
This is the brilliant work of Dr. Brian Wansink, who has written one of the best books on overeating called Mindless Eating, Why We Eat More Than We Think. Brian's work in the field is ground-breaking. He and his colleagues at Cornell study our eating behavior and look at why we eat what we eat and how we can eat less, without really noticing it. Brian was nice enough to endorse my book, Foodaholic, which covers the stages of weight loss and weight maintenance and incorporates much of Dr. Wansink's work.
Since I help adults lose weight, and keep it off, I've been using this idea from Cornell and translating it to adults. When I tell my clients of the study, they "get it" immediately and are inserting their own superhero into this equation and using it to great results. For example, I have one client who is stuck at a weight she would rather not be. (Actually many of my clients fall into this category.) This one gal, in particular, is using Jennifer Aniston as her role model. She asks herself, before she makes a food choice, "What would Jen eat?" This is helping her make better choices consistently.
I have one male client who idolizes Richard Branson. So he has been asking himself, "What would Richard eat?" and making better choices. It seems simplistic, and it is, but it is effective.
When we think of someone we admire, whether it's a Superhero, a celebrity, or someone in our own lives we look up to, it calls on our higher self to step up and behave accordingly. When we do this, it's very empowering. If Batman eats apple slices, and I eat apple slices, I will be like Batman someday.
Some of my clients cannot think of any human, or superhero for that matter, that works for them. So they ask themselves, "What would my higher self do?" This helps to pay attention to what you really want ultimately and reinforces the changes that you are making here and now. It's very hard to pass up that layer cake today to be thinner tomorrow. I understand, but what would Angelina do?
So, give this a try if you are struggling with changing any behavior that is not what you want to be doing. Think past the eating, drinking, smoking to how you will feel after you are done. Is that the feeling you really want? Can you make a better choice now that will lead you to feeling better, long term, in the future? If Batman can do it...
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