Another holiday season . . . another year to notice ads for enticing holiday food and drink. Last year McDonald’s promised me “Peace, Happiness, and Joy” – all in a little cup brimming with whipped cream and chocolate drizzle. The larger than life steamy beverage was like a muted Christmas carol spreading its cheer from a giant billboard next to the freeway.
Fast forward to 2011, and a strikingly similar billboard ad features a cup of McDonald’s peppermint mocha, with an enthusiastic invitation to “Celebrate the Season’s Cravings!” As the words played over in my mind, I couldn’t help but think – Who does that?!
Ironically, I was on my way to give a corporate lunchtime talk on “The Mood-Food Connection”. Over the past 10+ years, I have talked to many people about lifestyle change and weight loss, and never – not even once – have I ever heard someone tell me that they were celebrating the season’s cravings.
No, this time of year in particular, cravings are dreaded, feared, and at best tolerated, but never are they celebrated. For many, this is the season that tests the limits of self control, batters will power, and demands a harsh new kick in the pants come January 1 (the price of the holiday season’s cravings).
Expecting a binge season is the perfect set-up for fulfilling that prophesy. All too predictably, the people who eat with wild abandon during the holiday season are the same people who are trying the hardest to resist temptation during the rest of the year. “Good” – super restrictive – dieters generally make lousy examples of moderation when the cravings become just too tempting (ie. during the holidays).
McDonald’s knows that, and I suspect plenty of money went into the advertising campaign aimed at our seasonal cravings. It reminds me of the eating buddy who gently nudges, “Just go for it. You deserve it. You’ve been so good all year long.”
We are suckers for that logic! The diligent dieter nearly screams, “Yes, I HAVE been trying so hard! I DO deserve to celebrate. Bring on the peppermint hot chocolate . . . and yes, I will have the apple pie with it!”
I am quite sure McDonald’s is celebrating your cravings. I doubt if you are equally delighted.
I don’t blame McDonald’s. Their main goal is to make money, not to keep you healthy. It’s up to you to realize that and decide in a conscious way how you will react to their ads. I doubt any of us will ever truly celebrate cravings, but to stay healthy, it helps to understand them.