Stimulus Narrowing

On the excellent website Refuse to Regain Dr Barbara Berkeley and Lynn Haraldson-Bering have written a couple of articles about this ‘stimulus narrowing’ that are very interesting to me.  This is what Dr. Barbara says about it:  “… I’ve learned during five years of maintenance: the less involvement I have with food the better. Science has a name for this approach. It’s called “stimulus narrowing.” Many researchers have noted that too much choice and exposure is overstimulating and can even cause us to become anxious.”

I have been thinking about the stimulus narrowing since Barbara wrote about it also. Well, actually I think about it a lot, but I didn’t know it had a name. And also I thought I was kind of defective because I had to do this in order to lose or even maintain weight. So I was really glad to read that it was a bona fide technique that real normal people use. For me, the main thing I have to avoid now is eating out in restaurants too often. I know there are healthy choices, but when I get there, that is not what I want. So I just don’t go out to eat that often. I know that I can have so much more food (I won’t be hungry) by cooking the foods I love that are low fat at home. One good thing that has happened is that I don’t even think about going to fast food restaurants any more, and I used to go there several times a week!

At home, I keep a lot of food, and even some foods that would be considered ‘junk food.’  But it seems as long as they are in the cupboard or the freezer, I can control myself.  I do think that keeping too much food around, even the good kind, kind of puts a pressure on me to eat more than I need to.  Like when I go and buy so much fruit that I have to eat 5 or 6 servings in one day just so it won’t go bad.  That is self-defeating and something I am working on now.  Just keeping less food in my house.  There is only one of me, and if I run out, disaster will not strike.  The closest store is actually within walking distance (4 miles) in case I run out of gas and food at the same time–haha!

Since I mentioned eating out, and how I am still attracted to the wrong foods in the restaurants, I am going to try to add a long article that a friend sent me on ‘The 20 Worst Foods in America.”  This kind of information is really good for me to look at once in a while, because even though I know it in my brain, seeing it somehow reinforces it for me and then I don’t want to eat those things so much!  top_20_worst_foe280a6america11  Okay, this looks weird, because I guess I didn’t type a title or something, but if you click on it you should get to this list (it has pictures of food, people!)

9 thoughts on “Stimulus Narrowing

  1. WOW! That article was really interesting!! Who knew????

    Stimulus narrowing – I guess that’s what I”ve been doing for the last couple of months. Since I”m more focused on protein, I tend to limit myself to higher protein snacks and meals, which in turn means that I pass over a lot of the “junk” that my husband and kids usually like. It’s so much easier to make a choice between almonds and string cheese than to have to choose between cupcakes, chips, poptarts, sugar cereal, etc etc etc. I have found that limiting my food “world” makes it so much easier to stay on track, and on those occasions when I DO want a treat, I dont feel bad about it because I know I’ll get back to eating healthy again soon after.

    I think this is why I had such a hard time with WW – to many choices. Like you quoted earlier, it made me anxious and overwhelmed. I think it’s just something in my brain that associates WW with obsessivley thinking about food!! I know lots of people can do it without becoming crazy, but I guess I’m not one of them

    I never would have guessed that I’d be the type who likes having my choices limited, but it really cuts down on overloading my already overloaded brain!!! And by overloaded, I mean STRESSED!!!

    Very good post Debby!! I have just been to busy and too tired to think of posting this week – maybe next week I’ll have something worthwhile to post about!!

  2. Interesting. I can’t wait for their book to come out. I’ve got it preordered on Amazon. It’s funny, when I’m really on my game, I’m pretty much eating the same things and have a limited menu of foods. And I agree–restaurants & social eating are just killers. I’m going to check that link now.

    Hope you have a lovely weekend (we’re almost there!).

  3. Oh my word. The calorie & fat content in those dishes is unbelievable. Of course, now I want cheese fries and stuffed pancakes, but that’s obviously an issue with me, yes? Gotta practice “stimulus narrowing”!

  4. Hi Laura and Jill, Fun to hear from you two.

    Jill, Sounds like you need some ‘stimulus narrowing’ of the non-food kind. I hope you get some rest in the next few days.

    Laura, Oh yah, you and me are alike. Even though it is good for me to see the calorie count of that stuff, I still want it!! Stimulus narrowing, stimulus narrowing,,,,,

  5. Great post Debby! The info about the worst foods was quite the eye opener! I had a few of those foods “back in the day.” I read Lynn’s piece also about stimulus narrowing. I need to toss so many things in my cabinets and fridge that I don’t use or that I don’t know is in there. Thanks for such a great post!

  6. I just finally trusted myself to watch Top Chef over the summer. And I would chant – it would make you sick – the whole time. I made a game of watching looking for the healthy choices and pointing the unhealthy out to myself. I am EXTREMELY careful not to watch any other show that features food, cooking or any type of activity which might alter my perspective.

    I stopped all magazine subscriptions a while back – I read Oprah in doctor’s waiting rooms. My mother passes her Guideposts on to me to read. No subscriptions is a good thing for me. Once I decided to do this – it took ONE FULL YEAR to get rid of (donate) the piles.

    I ONLY watch TV on my TIVO like device – so that I watch no commercials whatsoever. If I am watching something “live” – I wait 20+ minutes for the show to get a headstart so that I can skip the commercials. And I am not even watching the commercials on fast forward – the system “blinks” through them so they are actually GONE. I also do not watch re-runs. If I have seen it – I delete it. This summer I have been watching BBC DVD’s – mysteries mostly from the library. The only way this could be better – is if I could WALK to the library (can only walk to my mom’s or go for a walk – can’t walk to a store).

    I do not wander through stores looking at sales racks. I go in for what I actually NEED – get it – go home.

    We almost NEVER eat at a restaurant. And I realize that this can be hard one for solo people. I guess the trick is to teach friends other NON-eating things to do for get togethers.

  7. I thought this was a really good post. Before I found you (and other like minded bloggers) when I would write things like this – I would get comments telling me how rigid I was and how they were not willing to stop doing “this, that and the other”. I do what actually WORKS for me.

  8. I have found stimulus narrowing really does work for me. I have 3 different breakfasts that I rotate in during the week. And which one I pick depends on how long ago I went grocery shopping! I tend to eat certain ones at the beginning when I have the yogurt on hand.

    Same with lunch, I have staple lunches that I rotate in. It makes it easier to shop, and I don’t have to think about lunch.

    Dinner is the meal where I have the most variety, but we have our favorites that we like to eat. Sometimes we try a new recipe or a new food.

    I have found that I really love the foods I eat, so that makes having less choices not feel like I am missing out on anything.

  9. Hey, Debby, great post and thanks for the shout out. I really loved Vickie’s comment about how people say she’s too rigid, that they’re “not willing” to let go of this, that or the other. I say if you DON’T trim down the number of this, thats and others, you’ll not maintain for long.

    I, too, pack my fridge with way too many fruits and veggies and I’m working on lessening that a bit.

    Thanks for the post and for that link. Those foods just make me sick thinking about them! LOL

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