Communicating with your brain

Like a baseball coach using hand signals to communicate with a batter, I sometimes tweak a simple snack — a banana folded like a hot dog into a slice of Healthy Goodness bread — to signal my brain as to what kind of eating strategy I’m planning that day.

If I eat the snack straight up, then it’s business as usual: Lots of fruit and veggies, highly selective on carbs, but basically I can eat what I want and whenever I’m hungry as long as I don’t go over my pre-set number of Weight Watchers points.

But if I eat that same banana and bread slice broken up into two separate snacks — each consisting of half a banana on half a slice of bread — then my brain gets the message that this is a light eating day.

Crazy, right? It’s the exact same food, just “packaged” slightly differently. I record it differently in my food log as well. But this is one way I’ve trained my brain, and it works. Somehow this gets me into the right mindset that I need to carry out my strategy.

Another simple signal: Sprinkling cinnamon in my coffee. Sometimes it’s not even enough to affect the taste. But because I picked up that idea from Tim Ferriss’ book The Four Hour Body, doing that puts me in the mood for dietary data crunching as well as pumping up my confidence for unconventional maneuvers, like ordering something weird in a restaurant.

Sprinkling raw oatmeal flakes on fruit, yogurt or ice cream is so commonplace in my diet now it may have lost any “signal” punch it once had. I just really like the taste and texture. But because this is something I never ate before I started my dietary makeover, it may send an unconscious message to “stay the course.”

I wouldn’t expect that my brain-signal snacks would work for anybody else, but I’d be curious to hear what other people use to get their brain’s attention.

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