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About to Go Shopping? Gargle First!

Listerine Whitening mouthwash
SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: MAY STOP MONKEY BRAIN

“Some people drink from the fountain of knowledge, others just gargle.”
–Dr. Robert Anthony

We probably all know the axiom that if you want to go grocery shopping, don’t do it on an empty stomach. You’ll be hungry, and every piece of food you pass will look good. As a result, you won’t stick to your list and come home with a bunch of food – probably junk food – that you didn’t really intend to buy, might not eat, but sure sounded good when you were pushing the shopping cart around.

The stomach and the brain are intertwined, causing our bodies to be flooded with ghrelin and forgetting to tell us we’re full until more than 20 minutes into a meal. We eat more at buffets when the quality of the food isn’t good, and are willing to pay more for food which has more satisfying tastes.

Now, researchers at the University of Georgia have discovered a way to trick the body into working for us. As I’ve written about previously, when we have to make a series of decisions and say no many times in a row, we suffer from what is known as ego depletion. Once we’ve experienced ego depletion, then we’re much more likely to say yes to something than we are to be able to turn it down.

If you’re shopping, then unless you’re the special breed who goes into the store, buys what you need, turns on a heel, and walks out (well, after paying, of course), then you’re going to be faced with having to say no to temptation after temptation after temptation. Eventually, saying no will seem like it’s impossible.

At that point, you need a boost.

Specifically, according to the research done by the University of Georgia, you need a gargle of sugar. Students who swished sugar water around in their mouths were much more able to then perform difficult mental tasks than those who swished around water flavored with Splenda.

So, if you’re going to be faced with having to say no to a series of temptations, such as when you’re shopping, gargle some lemonade beforehand. No, you can’t gargle diet lemonade, and I’m not recommending drinking an entire lemonade and bombarding your body with a sugar high. Gargle. Give yourself a spike. Boost that ego!

Plus, the looks you get from strangers as you gargle lemonade will be priceless. Take some pictures of the flabbergasted strangers and send them to me!

By

Jason Hull, CFP®, was the co-founder of Broadtree Partners, a firm that acquires $1-5MM EBITDA companies. He also was the co-founder of open source search consultancy OpenSource Connections, a premier Solr and ElasticSearch firm. He and his wife FIREd (financial independence retire early) at 46 and 45, respectively. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and a MBA from the University of Virginia Darden Graduate School of Business.

You can read more about him in the About Page.

4 replies on “About to Go Shopping? Gargle First!”

I never leave home without brushing my teeth. It makes me feel uncomfortable. But gargling with sugar water.. hmmm, let me try that next time..

Fascinating how the gargle can have such an effect! I read about Karl Lagerfeld’s drastic weight loss and he said when he felt like binge eating he would chew the food for a while then spit it and feel satisfied. Not really in accordance with my goal to avoid food waste but it does seem to trick your mind to think the food has been eaten.

Another way to achieve the same effects (without wasting food) is to chew really slowly. It takes 20 minutes for your body’s “Hey! I’m full!” mechanism to kick in, so chewing slowly gives your body time to react. It also helps to stop when you’re at about 75% of satiety. It’s the food (or the sugar) entering the system at the mouth which triggers a lot of the responses, not it getting down to your stomach. You have to give the tummy time to prepare the reception room, right?

that’s right. I have reduced portions quite a lot with slow eating. And now just the perspective of having to carry all that extra food on for a run makes me want to stop!

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