Imagine, after work you go to the local supermarket to pick up a few items for dinner. As you stroll down the frozen food aisle, you notice an ice-cream which you saw advertised while watching TV one evening. The ad depicted a woman lying relaxed, chin held up high, closing her eyes and relishing the last morsel of ice-cream from her spoon. You have flashbacks of this ad and place a tub in the supermarket trolley.
A few days later, your mood is low after a hard day at work with a colleague you find challenging. Your partner is already sitting in front of the TV with a block of chocolate. You suddenly find yourself contemplating a treat. But, you don’t really feel like chocolate. Or, any treat for that matter. However, your mind goes to the ice-cream you had bought earlier in the week, and you decide to have a couple of scoops. Subconsciously, you may be wanting to eat the ice-cream to feel like the woman in the ad –relaxed, confident and calm.
We live in a very food advertising driven world. The advertising is to persuade us to purchase products which are pitched in a way to make us believe they will fulfill a need. Often foods (especially discretionary foods) are portrayed as filling an emotional need – however, no food can do this. No food can help you deal with stress, fear, or sadness, in the long term. Products are also designed to create a desire for a food. Often, a desire which we may never even have had. How many times do you see a chocolate ad and then feel like eating chocolate, even though you weren’t feeling like chocolate?
We are subconsciously made to crave foods through clever marketing, then we blame ourselves for being weak, feel anxious about always craving food, and feel that there is something wrong with our willpower. It is not long before we see another ad, are reminded to buy the product again and we go through the same cycle. Clearly, these messages are working: for the food manufacturers.
Instead of blaming yourself, start to become curious about the marketing messages that subtly drive us to eat mindlessly. In particular, start to notice clever marketing messages which make us crave not necessarily the food but the mood associated with eating those foods. If you need further support with your current eating habits please seek professional support.