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  • Shannon Crocker MSc RD | Todd Crocker

5 Dietitian Mind Tricks that Actually Work | Guest Post by @DietitiansHusband

A Guest Blog Post by @DietitiansHusband

It’s kind of funny listening to your husband talk about food and nutrition. Especially when you hear him say all the things you didn’t think he was actually paying any attention to. At all. And he gets it mostly right. And to the outside world, you’re all like, “whatever”, but inside…you’re doing a wee happy dance.

This week, I’m sharing a post that @DietitiansHusband wrote with his views on what he’s learned by living with me and the food choices I make.

Just to be clear, I don't actually use mind tricks (although how cool would it be if I could just think about a Starbucks latte and someone would bring me one?!) -- he's talking about simple strategies and changes to the food environment that can nudge you to make a healthier choice.

I wanted to add a few side notes such as, “hey, to be clear, I’m not the food police”, and “if you really want to eat your favourite food, just eat it”, and “good lord, I’m not trying to trick you”, but I decided to skip that and just let you hear what he has to say. Unadulterated. Enjoy!

Vibrantly Yours,


Mind Trick #1: LOCATIONING.

The first thing that I can tell you that works is LOCATIONING. I’m sure that’s not what it’s called, but basically, prime real estate draws a crowd.

I’ll be throwing back snap peas like they are candy when suddenly I realize that they are peas and I awake from my vegetable fog.

That’s when I shake my head and know that if they hadn’t been in front of me, on the table I’m sitting at, I wouldn’t have eaten them. And of course by then I’ve eaten them all because I’m following the advice (and by advice I mean hard rule) my Mom gave me: clear my plate. Not a great rule as it turns out, but as the dietitian philosopher (Shan Tzu: The Art of War on Chicken Wings) probably pointed out: use your opponent’s misinformation to your advantage.

Mind Trick #2: The SUBSTITUTION.

I am not a fan of something called milk that comes from a plant. If I’m drinking milk or having cheese, I’m having it. I don’t like substitutes for health reasons; I like them for taste reasons. So, second up in the mind tricks? SUBSTITUTION.

There is no one that is getting me to tofurkey and I know that’s not a verb.

If I’m having tofu, I’m having it. It doesn’t need to take on the form of a burger. I am not above getting the substitute, if indeed the substitute makes no difference to the taste, or makes it taste better. I have not found that to be the norm.

But sometimes!

Case in point: this smooth cottage cheese stuff that I thought was sour cream the first three times it showed up. I like it better than sour cream on my baked potato and tacos and then something, something whatever, it turns out it is better for me.

Not all of the substitutions work – actually the fail rate is quite high – but when they do, they really do.

Mind Trick # 3: The S.I. or The SECRET INGREDIENT.

I don’t know what the ground-up stuff on my breakfast is, but it makes no difference to me. It’s a part of the ‘what I eat for breakfast’. You see when someone cares so much about something and the other person is indifferent, the person who is indifferent can be led just about anywhere.

Do I suspect there is flax in my oatmeal? I do. Do I think someone mixed vegetables into my strawberry smoothie? Absolutely.

Do I know who that someone is? Of course. You might say: why don’t you make your own food? Well my list of secret ingredients is far different. My smoothie would have fresh vanilla bean ice cream. My breakfast would have bacon…period…bacon. No secret.

Mind Trick #4: SCIENCE.

SCIENCE. I am not a simple believer. I need proof. No one can tell me soaking my golf balls in goji berries is going to make them go further and straighter (truthfully if someone just told me that it would make them easier to find in the rough I’d probably do that) unless they can prove it.

All the diets, all the fads, all the holistic, all the ‘natural’ and even the ‘organic’ don’t get by me unless you science the heck out it.

Sure I have no idea what riboflavin is and what it really does, but that’s why I put my trust in an accredited, accountable source, that holds the science first.

Mind Trick #5: DIDN’T SEE IT, DIDN’T EAT IT.

Shannon is channeling Alec Guiness (Obi Wan Kenobi from the first or fourth Star Wars) in my head saying: “These are not the chips you are looking for.”

I can never find the chips. When I really feel like having them, I have to go get them…from the store…outside…around the corner…get them. I usually eat something else instead.

I actually learned this early in my career when I had no money. When I didn’t have money on me, I didn’t buy things because I just thought of it and wanted it. I drove by drive thru after drive thru thinking I wanted ice cream or a burger. But I just didn’t have the money. Same principle.

If you don't have it convenient to you, it’s less likely you’ll walk down the street in the middle of winter, or a stifling hot summer day to get it.

@DietitiansHusband’s Bottom Line: Do all these things work all the time? No. But they now work a majority of the time instead of just sometimes. Look, you’re not going to stop a guy like me from desiring a meat lovers pizza and a few beers (HEY, I’m not trying to stop him and I like pizza with a beer too – oops, sorry, that just escaped) but, these are the five things that definitely have the highest success rate in the battle to get me to eat healthier.

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