How I don’t need willpower by learning to feel disgust for what once tempted me. You can too.

June 28, 2024 by Joshua
in Addiction, Leadership, Models, Tips

Maybe you’ve heard me share how from when I had my own kitchen, I always had ice cream in my freezer and pretzels and Doritos in my cupboard. I struggled to pace my consuming them, but nearly always ate more than I meant to, but kept buying more.

Now I say there isn’t enough money in the world for me to eat that stuff. I also talk about my relationship with doof as an addiction. Many people who kick addictions describe themselves as “in recovery” for the rest of their lives.

Man eating ice cream

What changed? Why is it beyond easy for me not to consume Ben and Jerry’s, bordering on inconceivable?

The transformation began with hydrogenated oil, now also known as trans fat.

The roots of my disgust for doof

Growing up, I didn’t learn much about nutrition. Somehow I learned that fat was mostly empty calories, but there were distinctions among fats. In particular, I learned that saturated fat was less healthy than unsaturated. I also learned that something new called hydrogenated oil was in between.

I don’t know what saturated or unsaturated meant. I mainly learned that margarine was healthier than butter for having less saturated fat. Whether what I learned was true or not, I don’t know. I’m only saying what I learned.

Later I learned about hydrogenated oils, that

  • They were the most unhealthy of all
  • The people selling and promoting them knew how unhealthy they were, but promoted them as more healthy
  • The people created them by bubbling oil with hydrogen—that is, not through a process I’d call natural or anything less than industrial

They lied to me to profit from making sicker while lying to me that they were, from one perspective, helping me. They lied about what would give me heart disease. I could go on about the outrage I felt but will instead focus here on how the experience affected me, especially in how I felt about them.

I came to see them as choosing their profit even when they contribute to hurting others, including me. I felt disgust toward the decision-makers behind this decision. You don’t ‘accidentally’ bubble hydrogen through oil. You don’t ‘accidentally’ claim it’s healthier. They worked hard to lie to me to profit from what would give me heart disease and more.

At first, I felt I couldn’t do business with people who lived by those values. Whether I liked the taste of their products or not didn’t matter. I couldn’t buy them.

Soon enough the disgust I felt toward their behavior and choices expanded. I felt disgust toward their products. Avoiding Crisco and other products containing trans fats became trivial. It’s not hard to avoid eating things I find disgusting. It became as easy for me to avoid consuming products with trans fats as avoiding eating cockroaches.

The more I learned how all doof fit this pattern of people working hard to deceive me to profit at the cost of my health and more, the more my disgust expanded to all doof. It became as easy for me to avoid consuming doof as avoiding eating cockroaches.

Now, when I find a product or service I don’t want to consume, I learn the intent of its creators. If I find them predatory, deceitful, and so on, I find them disgusting. Examples include Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Google, Twitter or anything from Elon Musk, H&M, and so on.

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