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Make Friends with Disgust

by on July 17, 2015

For years I have used a type of “aversion therapy” with patients.

Specifically, I tell patients to take a picture of themselves they don’t like. Could be a pic holding a bag of meds or insulin syringe.

Then take a picture of foods you typically eat that you need to avoid and make a collage with the picture of you in the middle surrounded by the pics of the bad food. Put the collage up in a visible area where you look at it daily.

The point is to create a conscious and subconscious disgust with the food you typically eat. Turns out taste can be programmed and re-programmed.

Paul McCartney said, “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everybody would be vegetarian.”

This is kinda true. We consume very subconsciously. You may love hamburgers but if I showed you lots of pics of where they come from you may become disgusted by them.

New research has shown that this technique of raising disgust for certain foods can change tastes and help with changing to a positive diet.

Conversely, by the way, I also like to have patients take a picture of what their goals are, like a pic of someone crossing a finish line at a race, and surround that picture with pics of fruits and veggies. Your mind can learn to crave foods you previously were not interested in.

I hated veggies before I was 36. Now I crave salads and veggies because I have associated them with help and achieving goals. I have built a positive mental image around produce and a negative image around hamburgers. It works!

Legget KT, Cornier MA, Rojas DC, Lawful B, Tregellas JR. Harnessing the power of disgust: a randomized trial to reduce high-calorie food appeal through implicit priming. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015.