Enneagram Type 7 Diet Strengths:
Versatile Types – use fun, spontaneity, and variety to keep themselves motivated
Power Skills (1st Step) for Type 7: Pleasure and Pain Principle, Focus-Power vs. Willpower (Distraction, Avoidance, Reframing)
1. PLEASURE AND PAIN PRINCIPLE: Maximize the Pleasure, Minimize the Pain (Savor the Flavor — Don’t Waste It)
The Pleasure and Pain Principle is the theory that we are programmed to seek pleasurable experiences and avoid physical and psychological pain. What is interesting about humans is that we quickly become “use to” or bored by our favorite pleasures. This causes us to continually seek out more intense experiences.
As we pursue pleasure there are a few factors that can heighten the experience:
- Anticipation – Desire can be increased by being teased before we get a “taste.”
- Novelty – Variety increases pleasure.
- Intensity – Experiences can feel new when they are stronger.
- Sensory – Involving more senses, like smell, touch and sight can heighten experiences.
- Pairing – “Ride a pleasure wave.” When we are feeling good in one part of our life, all other experiences improve. This is why food taste better when we are falling in love, on vacation, or because our mother prepared it.
In regards to food, as we go from meal to meal we remember prior flavors, and by trying to top them, our desires become harder to satisfy. Not only does this effect occur from meal to meal, but it also occurs within a meal. The first bite of dessert is more pleasurable than the last, and normal foods like broccoli taste bland after eating chocolate cake. By frequently eating processed foods that have intense flavors, our taste buds become accustomed to unnaturally rich, sweet and salty foods. Many of us continuously seek the “high” from these foods and wind up becoming overweight in the process.
So how do you use the Pleasure and Pain Principle to lose weight?
You will harness the five factors that heighten pleasure to make weight loss fun and exciting while resetting your taste buds back to their natural state of craving healthy foods.
- Anticipation – Build yearning for meals through food pictures, cookbooks, menus, and meal plans.
- Novelty – Have frequent, exciting, healthy meals, including novel and new taste experiences.
- Intensity – Eat in courses that gradually increase in richness and desirability, and decrease in size. (Start with a large serving of vegetables and end with a tiny dessert). Or intensify hunger by participating in exciting and fun exercises.
- Sensory – Become a food connoisseur: slow down and focus on how to stimulate the five senses with each bite. (Savor the Flavor) Take a moment to inhale the scent of fresh herbs and enjoy the sight of the colorful vegetables in your meals.
- Pairing – Increase emotional attachment in meals through rare ingredients, recipes that are special family traditions or represent fun, like party foods.
One final thought to consider with the Pleasure and Pain Principle is that we are programmed to avoid pain. When we feel stressed, hungry, thirsty, lonely, angry or tired we tend to forgo our diets and choose to eat poorly. It has been scientifically proven that self-control takes energy. (Gailliot et al., 2007). To counteract this phenomenon you should keep small, healthy snacks readily available. Continually graze throughout the day on things like apples, carrot sticks, small pre-sized dried fruit, or any other pre-packaged healthy snacks that are available at your grocery store. Try out new snacks to keep up the variety.
Make sure when you go grocery shopping that you are not hungry and follow your list. Otherwise, you might be more easily tempted to buy unhealthy foods. You can even reward yourself with a healthy treat at the store or snack on the way so that you feel satisfied. Ultimately, you will bring home less junk from the market.
2. FOCUS-POWER not WILLPOWER (DISTRACTION, AVOIDANCE, REFRAMING): Focus-Power uses Avoidance, Distraction, and Reframing to navigate past temptations, which is more effective than relying on willpower.
Most of us have experienced the fact that by trying not to think about something, it becomes more present in our mind. Whatever you do don’t think about Pink Elephants eating Chocolate Cake! Likewise, if you focus on a temptation, it becomes more desirable and harder to think about other things. People attest that the mere mention of a diet makes them hungrier. Research shows that rather than use willpower to diet, the best way to delay gratification and improve your chances of eating right is through the three facets of Focus-Power: Avoidance, Distraction, and Reframing. (Mischel et al 2004)
Avoidance – Keep temptation “out of sight, out of mind.” To do this while dieting, surround yourself with healthy options, make them extremely visible and keep unhealthy snacks out of your house or hard to get to (on the highest shelf).
Distraction – Occupy your mind and body with other activities to divert and redirect your attention. (see list below)
Reframing – Identify and replace rituals that increase caloric intake, such as dessert after dinner, or snacking while watching TV. Replace sweets with lusciously decadent fresh fruit, or start taking a walk each evening after supper. Also consider what foods go together in high-calorie pairs, such as donuts with coffee, or jelly with peanut butter, and start new habits – switch to green tea, or switch to whole grain bread with almond butter.
When you are tempted to eat, here are some Distraction ideas:
- Brush, floss and rinse with mouthwash. It’s less tempting to eat with a fresh clean mouth.
- Take the focus off yourself. Perform a random act of kindness. (Go to volunteermatch.org to find volunteering opportunities in your area.)
- Get interested in a good book or magazine. To get ideas go to the New York Times Bestseller List or see what ebooks are offered at your local library.
- Make a list of five hobbies you always wished you could pursue. Pick one and take a class or watch instructional videos on YouTube.
- Turn on a radio talk show that is engaging or listen to a Podcast. Check out the top podcasts.
- Socialize. Call a friend or video chat.
- Pamper yourself with a long soak with special bath salts.
- Keep a journal and write for ten minutes straight when you are tempted to snack.
- Get outside. Take a walk or go on a short bike ride around your neighborhood.
- Walk your dog.
- Physical touch is very soothing. Spend time petting your pet or give your partner a massage.
- Drink a glass of water. Often this alone will satisfy hungry thoughts.
- Give your mouth a substitute by making tea, chai or coffee (In moderation caffeine is an appetite suppressant).
- Chew some gum.
- Play an instrument or sing songs with your family.
- Drive around somewhere where you have never been.
- Work on your favorite hobby. Get into the “zone.”
Tips for Enneagram Type 7
Focus-Power vs. Willpower (Distraction, Avoidance, and Reframing): I surround myself with a bounty of healthy and convenient food options.
Focus-Power vs. Willpower (Distraction, Avoidance, and Reframing): I brush my teeth or chew gum after I eat to make further eating less tempting.
Focus-Power vs. Willpower (Distraction, Avoidance, and Reframing): When I think about food, I distract myself by performing an act of kindness.
Focus-Power vs. Willpower (Distraction, Avoidance, and Reframing): I am engaged in hobbies so that I am never bored.
Focus-Power vs. Willpower (Distraction, Avoidance, and Reframing): When I need to be distracted I socialize and call my friends and family.
Focus-Power vs. Willpower (Distraction, Avoidance, and Reframing): I use the outdoors to calm and distract my mind.
Focus-Power vs. Willpower (Distraction, Avoidance, and Reframing): I know that physical touch is very soothing. I have an animal I can pet or a partner who will give me a massage.
Focus-Power vs. Willpower (Distraction, Avoidance, and Reframing): I ensure my hunger is not thirst by frequently drinking water.
Focus-Power vs. Willpower (Distraction, Avoidance, and Reframing): I listen to music when I work out.
Focus-Power vs. Willpower (Distraction, Avoidance, and Reframing): I attend a fun and exciting fitness class or program that keeps me distracted from the discomfort of working out.
Focus-Power vs. Willpower (Distraction, Avoidance, and Reframing): I plan active social outings.
Focus-Power vs. Willpower (Distraction, Avoidance, and Reframing): I am actively changing my habits of high cal habits like food with TV to low cal rituals like tea or coffee with TV.
Pleasure and Pain Principle: I use the power of Anticipation to make food taste better by looking through cookbooks, menus and meal plans.
Pleasure and Pain Principle: I am always learning about and trying new healthy foods.
Pleasure and Pain Principle: Instead of thinking about limiting my food choices, I think about how I am adding healthy foods and new options.
Pleasure and Pain Principle: I eat a rainbow of colors.
Pleasure and Pain Principle: I use the power of graduated intensity with my meals. When each course, I increase in richness and flavor and decrease the size.
Pleasure and Pain Principle: I use the power of Novelty to make my food more satisfying with exciting new meals and ingredients.
Pleasure and Pain Principle: I keep healthy snacks available when I feel stressed, hungry, thirsty, lonely, angry or tired.
Pleasure and Pain Principle: I ensure I am not hungry when I go to the grocery store.
Pleasure and Pain Principle: I enjoy making healthy versions of my favorite family recipes or traditional party foods.
Pleasure and Pain Principle: I am a food connoisseur: I stimulate my senses with each bite — savor flavors, smell aromas, see color, & feel textures
Pleasure and Pain Principle: I slow down my eating so that I feel grateful for the abundance in my life.
Pleasure and Pain Principle: I enjoy cooking from scratch so I can control what I am eating.
Pleasure and Pain Principle: I eat produce that’s in season — it tastes better that way.
Pleasure and Pain Principle: I add fresh herbs to my meals whenever possible.
Pleasure and Pain Principle: I consider adding all the flavors to my meals including savory “umami” which help fill me up and satisfy my cravings for food.
Pleasure and Pain Principle: I use hot sauces, spices, lemon or vinegar as “no fat” seasonings instead of butter, or creamy dressings.
Rewards: You can even reward yourself with a healthy treat at the store or snack on the way so that you feel satisfied.
Self-Control Relies on Glucose as a Limited Energy Source: Willpower Is More Than a Metaphor, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Gaillot et al., 2007
Mischel, W., & Ayduk, O. (2004). Willpower in a cognitive-affective processing system: The dynamics of delay or gratification. In K. D. Vohs & R. F. Baumeister (Eds.), Handbook of self-regulation: Research, theory, and applications (pp. 99–129). New York: Guilford Press.)
Action Skills (2nd Step): See Type One’s DIET Strengths and Skills
Maintenance Skills (3rd Step): See Type Five’s DIET Strengths and Skills
Thank you for reading Enneagram Type 7 Diet Strengths! Learn more about Power, Action and Maintenance Skills…here
Written by Scott Harrington D.O. and edited by Christine Adkins