The pleasure trap

The pleasure trap - a simple, obvious and easy to understand principle

How many times have you heard say, or said yourself, "How come the tastiest foods are the ones that are bad for you?  I wish I would crave salad instead of chocolate" - well here is your answer...

I have found intermittent fasting to be one of the easiest ways to lose weight - speaking from decades of experience of trying out many diets (including low carb which landed me in hospital with a kidney stone) that have mostly only worked temporarily.

I lost a lot of weight by fasting but, I can't remember why I stopped - some special occasion no doubt, and I've found it impossible to get back on track....

...... until I came across a Tedx talk on Youtube in February 2020

This is the video - A talk by Dr Douglas Lisle:

Could the "pleasure trap" be the reason why you find it impossible to keep up healthy eating?

You watched it?  I hope so because if you didn't the rest of this page might not make any sense.

How simple and downright obvious when you think about it.

I did start to try this out in Feb 2020 but then of course covid happened and of course other things were more important. It went right out of my mind and here we are in March 2021 - time to start again

There is also the book which you can buy at amazon UK or amazon US or click either of the links and it should take you through to your own country's amazon website if the book is available there.

addendum June 2021

Dr Lisle also eats a completely vegan diet with no oil or added sugar.  Again, personally I do have meat or fish on occasions, do use eggs sometimes, succumb to cake biscuits and toast when the temptation is too stressful to fight and am still losing weight very slowly

A word of caution - 

I started with a a fast.  I am not suggesting you should do the same.  You don't HAVE to start by fasting and there are many reasons why some people should not do this.  Be careful and consult an expert if you are thinking of doing the same.  It's just my own way of resetting my pleasure levels (as described in the video above) Watch the second video below too - quite amazingly eye opening!

If you decide that you want to go ahead with a fast and you're sure it's quite safe for you to do but find the prospect a bit daunting - it's not as difficult as you would think.....

 …..once you've set you're mind on it, and with a little trick or two to help. 

(But please don't fast unless you are sure there is no medical reason why you shouldn't.  It's not necessary to solve the problem of the pleasure trap - it's just the way I am personally dealing with it)

Remember that the times you will feel most hungry are the times that you normally would eat - your body is expecting food at particular times of the day and in no uncertain terms, your brain will tell you so. (Like Pavlov's dogs salivating when the bell rings)  When these times come up, you need to sit it out, occupy yourself with something active (that's a contradiction in terms isn't it, but you know what I mean) and the hunger will pass.

A water fast is a good way to reset your pleasure levels and help you escape the pleasure trap if you are able to do it.  Otherwise you could consider drinking very watered down fruit juice, black or herbal tea or some weak vegetable stock instead.  I find that if I am feeling a bit weak or faint, vegetable stock does the trick.  Maybe because I'm lacking in electrolytes (salts

The Pleasure trap - My own experience

Just after I first learned about the pleasure trap in February 2020 covid happened and it no longer seemed so important.  I lost interest.

So just over a year later I decided to try to drum up the enthusiasm again and began at the end of March 2021.

After only a short while, ordinary and real food began to be far more enticing and I bagan to feast on plain vegetables and they tasted sooo delicious

Freedom from the pleasure trap even after only a few days has had me looking longingly at vegetable recipes  The 2 brilliant River  Cottage books, 'Veg every day' and 'much more veg' have got me enticed - and to think that  only a few days before I was going to give the second one away because it didn't interest me!  - excellent recipes.

Veg every day US

Much More Veg US

A couple of weeks later I had lost around 8 pounds but came to a stand-still

So having had brilliant advice from watching Dr Doug Lisle and his talks on the pleasure trap and the ego trap - there is just one piece missing to the jigsaw puzzle of my weight loss.  Why is it that I can eat all the right things all day, but come the evenings and I stuff myself?

So it seemed wise to hunt for Dr Lisle's advice on the matter and I found a genius video about a natural response which he calls "the cram circuit".

It all seems to make sense now, and it goes something like this:

Herbivores munch all day long.  Carnivores catch their prey about once a week. So they cram in as much food as possible when they do

Omnivores of course do both.  We as omnivores naturally would graze all day on leaves roots fruit etc.  But every  now and then we would catch an animal to eat, and by nature we would cram as much of this food into ourselves as possible because it could be a while before we get such rich food again.

This cramming would not happen every day so we would never over eat

However, we now live in an environment of not only rich food being available every day, but of ultra rich manufactured food being available cheaply and consistently.  It is in our nature to cram this food in - that's how we are made.  It is a survival mechanism, but works against us if we are surrounded by these foods because we will of course do what nature intended and cram it in. 

But there's more.  Many people can control their urge, but for some it also becomes a conditioned response as well as a natural response if we are doing it consistently. 

A conditioned response is an automatic response which comes about with a specific signal. Like Pavlov's dogs who would salivate every time a bell rang because a bell would ring every time they ate.  They associated the bell with food so that everytime they heard it their body and mind would prepare itself to receive food. And so it is that every time we finish a meal of an evening, our stomach is distended with food similarly, our distended full satisfied stomach sends a signal that further rich food is going to be soon available and our digestive system prepares itself for it

Clear as mud?

Watch the video.  You won't be sorry

But what to do about this new found knowledge of "the cram circuit" is a mystery to me.  I'm fine alone at home - but the workplace is full of crap food.....

If anyone has the answer - please comment below or send a message!

Trying to keep on track

Issues that I personally think need tackling to help keep on track:

More and/or better quality sleep

Reduce stress

Learn some tricks to stop eating high calorie dense food (anything above 150 kcals per 100g) that's lying around at work for anyone to help themselves to

(That last one is the most important and most challenging)


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The pleasure trap - Douglas Lisle




Please remember that the author of this website is not a professional.  All statements are opinions and not to be taken as advice.


"Don't believe everything you read on the internet"  Abraham Lincoln

Much of the information on this website is either "googled" or out of the author's head and therefore not to be taken as advice.

It's all about food and food for thought, so trust your gut instinct and get some professional advice on diet if you think you need it

Note also that some links may lead to websites where I may gain a few measly pennies, at no extra cost to yourself, if you respond to them.  This helps me to recoup some of the cost of running this website. 








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