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jimmy comments on Is there a way to stop liking sugar? - Less Wrong

6 Post author: diegocaleiro 11 June 2014 08:21PM

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Comment author: jimmy 11 June 2014 10:59:52PM *  4 points [-]

I have played with this (successfully) a decent amount.

It's about the associations, and there are a few ways to get there. Perhaps most importantly, you don't need to "hack" anything in. Excess sugar gives you plenty of bad experiences with which to condition against excess sugar consumption - you just have to make the connection.

For me, it happened automatically as I started reading into nutrition stuff. When I read things, I tend to read slowly and take a moment and really think about the implications. That imaginary association was enough to start me on the path of eating less sweets. I got my girlfriend to eat less sweets which gave her the opportunity to notice how much better she felt when not eating sweets - and how much worse she felt when she would eat them again. Paying attention to the expected and actual outcomes while eating is enough. Neither of us abhor all sweetness now, but it's much toned down and my taste is exactly where I want it. For example, a few black berries on the top of a paleo waffle? Mmmm! Syrup? Ew. Gross.

Since then, I've been able to change my tastes more deliberately. It's a bit weird to describe to someone who hasn't had similar experiences, but I basically imagine eating the food and focus on "exploring the taste" while also imagining the good feeling "qualia" of knowing something is going to be good for me and help me feel good. I used to hate pickles, but when I realized that they were fermented and that I should probably like them, I started imaging what it would be like to enjoy the taste of pickles, and by the time I got my hands on a pickle, I thoroughly enjoyed it (and have since).

Also, I've used hypnosis to tweak peoples tastes. You have to be a bit mindful of 'ecology of fit' if you want a change to be lasting, but it's a great way to explore new experiences. I can't remember exactly why I didn't try for a permanent change at the time, but it was a pretty eye opening experience being able to toggle my girlfriends taste for sweets with literally the snap of my fingers. She went from craving and about to eat a piece of milk chocolate to <snap!> throwing it on the ground and laughing about how she almost put that disgusting thing in her mouth.