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You frame it as an opposition between two opposing forces, a person's appetite for immediate reward and his self-restraint. The strength of one's restraint is measured against the strength's of one's desires. You improve results by strengthening restraint and weakening appetite.

I see self-restraint as a limited amount of discretion that a person has to override his natural tendency to maximize emotional reward. As the article says, self-restraint is tiring and unnatural; it's a stopgap measure at best. The primary conflict is in your emotional brain's cost/benefit analysis of the situation. You have to hack your emotional reward system so you don't have to employ as much self-restraint. When you naturally derive satisfaction from eating well, because you have faith in the ultimate payoff, your natural tendency will not be as strongly tilted in favor of overeating.

Your subconscious/emotional/whatever brain is smarter than most people think. You aren't doomed to have an out-of-touch brain that fills you with irresistible, self-destructive impulses to overeat. We may have evolved on the savannah, but if you can stand on a subway platform, surrounded by strangers whose personal feelings about you are unknown, waiting for a huge steel structure to come whizzing by you at high speed, without feeling scared, you can learn to leave food on your plate. You just have to program your brain properly (cultivate faith) so that you feel, subconsciously, that limiting your eating leads to well-being and happiness (and, according to the highly publicized recent study, more sex if you're a man.)




Actually, what I'm saying is that you strengthen restraint _by_ weakening appetite. Not to say there isn't some small percentage of people who can rise about their stomachs desire for food, I'm just saying that for 85% plus of the (mostly sedentary) human population in the west, the key to success is to eliminate that basic need for food in the first place.

I'd be interested in reading about successful diets/studies that tackle this from the angle you are talking about - rewiring the brain/emotions so that they are able to overcome the hunger reflex over the long term.




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