Jenn Visser

Diets often don’t work well because we haven’t given our brains the exact directions on what we really want. Let me explain, this can change your whole perspective.


Our brains are hardwired to move us towards pleasure and away from pain. It’s how we have survived as a species for millions of years. What’s unique about us humans is that we can choose what we link pleasure and pain to. Let me give an example.

Sneezes all over it

The waiter is bringing out a pizza and you love pizza, you’re starting to salivate as he’s walking over with it. All of a sudden he sneezes all over the pizza. That pizza is now gross to you. Or let’s say you get food poisoning from oysters. As you’re throwing up, you might be saying never again will I eat oysters. From then on looking at oysters make you sick.

Confusing, isn’t it?

I hear all the time that eating cakes, chocolate, ice-cream, and drinking mochas make people happy but also unhappy. Confusing, isn’t it? You cannot succeed on any diet loving and hating the same food, wanting it, denying it and then craving it.

When you’re stressed and eat Ben & Jerry’s and say “Oh my god, this is amazing! This makes me feel so much better” Then what do you think your brain is going to tell you to do next time you’re stressed? Stressed? Eat the Ice cream, that made you feel better.

What to do? Make a list of food that you both hate/love and link pain to it. I know a woman who was able to stop drinking diet Pepsi because she started calling it osteoporosis in a can.

Don’t tell yourself that junk food makes you feel good. Link more pleasure to healthy food that best supports your health goals.

There’s plenty

Wording matters. The brain hates scarcity and the word can’t. For example saying I can’t eat that right now, I’m on a diet. Creates even more desire and cravings. Say this instead, I could have that pizza and there’s plenty, but I’m choosing the grilled chicken and salad and I’m going to feel just as satisfied. Or yes, those cookies look nice but what’s even nicer is feeling good in my clothes.

This isn’t about shame. Nothing gets better with shame. This is about learning how to direct your mind to what you really want. It takes practice so don’t give up or be mean to yourself. You’re learning!

Let me know how you’re linking pleasure and pain to food. How are you going to change your mindset?


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