Monkey See, Monkey Want Chicken Nuggets

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Chicken NuggetsAre you on the see-food diet? You see food and you want to eat it. Last week I was lamenting that I tried unsuccessfully for quite a while to resist the siren call of pizza and other foods. I thought there was something wrong with me and that I just needed more willpower. I decided I was just not going to keep those foods around instead of tempting fate and failing.

Willpower goes a long way but interestingly enough this weekend I read an article in Weight Watchers magazine that gave a possible explanation for this phenomenon. An explanation other than “there’s something wrong with me.” The timing was perfect since this topic was already on my mind. I’m not claiming the article had scientific backing for its research but it made relative sense to me. Imagine air quotes here around relative. 😉

Back in the beginning of time, we humans used to go for long stretches without food. If we were lucky, there would be a tasty wooly mammoth that we were able to tackle for several dinners in a row but it was either feast or famine. To help us survive, we were created with an instinct to feast when we had food aplenty to make up for the times when we had very little to eat.

This is also the reason that carnivores like lions, cats and dogs lay around conserving energy 20 hours a day. The problem comes in with modern society where food is available at every turn and unfortunately a good chunk of it is high fat, fried, sugary morsels that appeal to our taste buds. Marketers play into this survival instinct of ours particularly with pizza images during sporting events on TV and cereal commercials during Saturday morning cartoons.

We see food and our brain is triggered to eat it to prepare for when food isn’t around. But it’s always around. Here are some tips that may help with this:

  • Keep candy in opaque dishes and containers. If you dont see it easily then you won’t be as likely to want it. If you know a co-worker has candy on their desk, go the long way around to avoid seeing the treats.
  • Get up and walk around or do some other activity during prime time commercials so you won’t see those tempting gooey marketing messages. Even if you don’t reach for the phone to order pizza, just seeing the commercial could cause cravings that send you to your pantry.
  • Keep the reward foods out of sight in the pantry or freezer so that you don’t see them all the time. Out of sight, out of mind goes a long way to helping with this. Get rid of that Halloween candy right away in a few weeks. You don’t need it and your kids don’t either.
  • Slice fruits and veggies and store them in clear containers at eye level in your fridge. Make baggies with nuts or servings of brown rice and keep them at eye level too. If you are wanting something, it will be the first things you see when you open the fridge. You can also keep a bowl of fruit on your desk within sight.
  • Tell the waiter to not bring the basket of bread or chips to the table. If you really want a serving, take it out and then send the basket away. If it’s right there, you’ll nibble at it until dinner arrives.

Try a few of these tips to see what works for you and if it helps keep you on track. Is there anything you’d add to the list?


  1. These are GREAT tips. I often don’t have the willpower to ask the waiter not to bring the bread. But I have been starting to cut up veggies and putting them at eye-level in the fridge!

    • It’s hard especially for a carb lover like me but it’s worse when it’s on the table right there to pick at. I wash all my fruits and veggies and cut them up on Sunday. That way they are ready to eat all week when I open the fridge. Thanks for stopping by!

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