Fake Memories Fight Flab

Here's an ingenious way to lose weight: give yourself false memories to trick yourself into believing that you actually hate all the food you love. This technique is being pioneered by memory researcher Elizabeth Loftus, of UC Irvine:

In her latest work, her team convinced volunteers that they had been sick after eating strawberry ice cream as a child. Loftus and her colleagues gave 228 undergraduate students questionnaires about food. The volunteers subsequently received feedback on their questionnaires that suggested they had had an unpleasant experience related to food in the past. The researchers told them this conclusion had been generated by a sophisticated computer program. A control group of 107 received no feedback.
It was found that 41 per cent of the first group took on the false childhood memory and were more averse to eating strawberry ice cream afterwards.

All my life I've hated fish because of an unpleasant childhood memory of my German grandfather gouging out the eyeball of a fish at the dinner table and eating it (in Germany they eat all parts of the fish). But what if this memory is a false one? I could become a fish lover. Though I wonder if it's possible to give people fake good memories of food. Or does the memory trick only work in a negative way?

Food Psychology

Posted on Thu Aug 04, 2005


(subliminal) Mind over Matter!

I don't see this method of control to be of much use to lose weight unless the person eats like massive amounts of that item. Might better be applied for psychological addictions than anything.

I will not write malicious software. I will not...
Posted by Tirlas  on  Thu Aug 04, 2005  at  07:32 PM
Seems to me like it would be a more effective weight loss technique to implant the memory, "Since childhood you have genuinely enjoyed getting your big ass off the couch and walking a mile down the street every evening". Right?
Posted by Barghest  on  Thu Aug 04, 2005  at  07:57 PM
I tried something similar about ten years ago
I tried to convince myself I hated chocolate
basically telling everyone that I could no longer stomach the stuff

I lasted about six months and lost a fair amount of weight.

(put it all back since)
Posted by Sharruma  on  Fri Aug 05, 2005  at  02:11 AM
"in Germany they eat all parts of the fish"

I live in Germany and have never seen people eating all of the fish. Maybe it happens in specific areas but I have never seen it.
Posted by Chris  on  Fri Aug 05, 2005  at  05:59 AM
One of the dumbest weight loss ideas I've ever heard. Who wants to be disgusted by every food that they enjoy that could make them gain weight? You'd walk around wanting to vomit all the time. Every tasty food would turn your stomach. And think of all the fake memories you'd have in your head. Lamer idea than Deal a Meal.
Posted by Reynard Muldrake  on  Fri Aug 05, 2005  at  08:24 AM
What's weird about eating fish eyes? Is it weirder than eating unborn chickens, or stuffed pig intestines, or a live yeast culture?

Eating habits are a learnt trait. I'm just surprised as high a percentage of people in that study group turned out to be so susceptible to suggestion. I'd hate to see what effect normal TV advertising has on them.
Posted by Nightbringer  on  Fri Aug 05, 2005  at  08:28 AM
Maybe it's the older generation that does things like eating fish eyes. Younger generations probably have more Americanized eating habits.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Fri Aug 05, 2005  at  09:30 AM
This reminded me of something I read happened in WWII. A guy was on an island (Wake I believe) recently captured by the Japanese. He managed to avoid capture himself intially. He eventually got hungry, and found some food (cumquats I think). As he's eating this food, all around him are some corpses which haven't been picked up and buried yet, and it's been some time since the battle, so they're in a horrible smelling state. Well, the guy eats his food, and is eventually captured and sent to a POW camp. He manages to survive the war, and when he gets home, one day he trys to eat the same food he ate that time on the island. It made him violently ill. He was never able to eat it again.
If they really wanted to keep people from eating certain foods, instead of planting false bad memories, make them real.
Posted by Frederick J. Barnett  on  Fri Aug 05, 2005  at  10:49 AM
"Younger generations probably have more Americanized eating habits." - Alex

Now there's an idea. You want to change people's eating habits, show them how it's made. I know a guy who couldn't tolerate red meat after working six months in a slaughterhouse. He's only just now learning to eat red meat again.

And if more people knew how bad the modern highly-processed, highly-refined diet really was for them, they wouldn't need silly fake-memory courses to improve their health.
Posted by Nightbringer  on  Fri Aug 05, 2005  at  08:59 PM
Hypnotize a non-smoker and make him believe he loves to smoke and see if he turns into an overnight chainsmoker.
Posted by Beasjt  on  Sun Aug 07, 2005  at  01:27 AM
It's a lot easier to lose trust in food than it is to gain it. Creating a good false memory wouldn't be nearly as effective. If you think about it, eating is a risky business. If a food makes you sick, a natural reaction is to avoid it from then on. I believe they've used that fact to train wolves to avoid sheep meat: they fed wolves tainted sheep meat so they would learn to treat sheep as a...not so healthy snack. I think it worked.

I have an aversion to lentils (at least the way my mom prepares them) for similar reasons...
Posted by Ajin  on  Sun Aug 07, 2005  at  08:36 PM
Germans eating all parts of the fish...man, gimme a break. I am German and I have faced several amusing stereotypes in the U.S., but this one gets a place on my "extra absurd"-shelf.
Posted by Jan Schoenmakers  on  Tue Aug 09, 2005  at  02:31 PM
Well, Jan. All I can say is that my grandfather definitely ate every part of the fish, and he was about as German as it's possible to be. He didn't even speak English, so I could never communicate much with him. From what I understand, in the decades immediately after WWII many Germans became somewhat fanatical about letting absolutely no food go to waste, because food was so scarce... thus they would eat every part of the fish (and many other unappetizing things). I imagine present-day Germans are much more relaxed in their dietary habits.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Wed Aug 10, 2005  at  08:34 AM
my food aversion is mangoes. when we arrived in australia in 1972 you could buy a box of apples or oranges for $2- 3. 180 apples in a box . wages were around $40 / week for a tradesman.
a mango was 50 cents ... for one piece of fruit that has a huge stone in the middle . so if i asked mum would say " oh no , we dont like them". many years later my g/f at the time offered me a mango ... i answered " no thanks , we dont like them". she and her parents (also english immigrants) could not believe their ears . how can you not like mango they asked . eventually i tried some and realised what i had been missing out on for so long. the next summer .. the g/f had to go through the whole ritual of asking and me saying no we dont like them ... she reminded me how much i had enjoyed them the year before and so again i was eating mangoes . this went on for years. to this day if i pick up a mango in the shops i hear mums voice ... " no , we dont like them" and 9 times out of ten i put the fruit back on the shelf .
Posted by head1ess_chicken  on  Sat Aug 13, 2005  at  07:55 PM
Well, Alex, during and after WWI and II, food was so scarce that people tried to not waste anything at all. That is correct. However, this was the same all across Europe (resp. the countries affected) as people would rather eat a fish's eyes than starve. Such eating habits have never been a German tradition or anything.
Posted by Jan  on  Mon Sep 19, 2005  at  05:36 PM
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