I would imagine that somewhere in the bowels of federally-funded research someone has examined the “power of suggestion” relative to over-eating and obesity. If not, then let me throw out some thoughts on the subject.
I don’t know how many times I have watched the movie “Liberty Valance.” It’s in black and white and stars John Wayne, Lee Marvin and Jimmy Stewart. Liberty Valance is a bully who robs stagecoaches, beats people up for sport and works for cattle barons who are opposed to the territory gaining statehood.
About 90 percent of this movie takes place in a cafe. They are either eating, cooking or threatening to shoot someone about a steak that was tossed in the floor.
Every time I watch that movie, I have a craving to throw a steak on the grill and side order it with baked beans and potatoes. Keep in mind this movie is in black and white, but I can see the deep reddish brown baked beans simmering in a big cast iron pot. And I can see the deep pink of a medium-well ribeye. I can smell the coffee and the deep-dish apple pie that comes from a wood-stoked oven. Reminds me of my Grandma Hattie’s kitchen when I was just a boy.
Even when Jimmy Stewart (Mr. Stoddard) is brought into the kitchen in the wee hours of the morning all beat up and blathering about bringing the law to an area south of the Picket Wire (a river), one group is trying to patch him up while another group is breaking eggs in a skillet the size of a sombrero and mixing pancake batter with a spoon that could serve as a canoe paddle.
I’m wondering, will Stewart live and what kind of syrup will they put on those pancakes?
There have been times when I’ve watched this movie that I thought it might have been the beginning of those celebrity cooking shows.
“That’s right folks, join us tomorrow when John Wayne demonstrates how he likes his steaks right before he shoots somebody.”
The power of suggestion is so great to me in this movie, I could have just finished a four- course meal and the urge to grill some form of dead animal and sing “Tumbling Tumbleweed” would still persist.
While I think the power of suggestion is a major factor in over-eating, I don’t think it’s directly proportionate in an attempt to reduce eating. In other words, it doesn’t go exponentially in the opposite direction.
I was once involved in a discussion along these very lines. Someone said when you have a tendency to eat beyond your daily requirements, one should think about something that would stymie the appetite instead of encouraging it. One person said to imagine road kill and that should help. So I did. Then I went out and bought an 18-inch, thin and crispy pizza with multiple toppings and ate the whole thing.
I don’t expect to overcome this kind of power of suggestion anytime soon or maybe never. I just don’t foresee a good western movie where some guy comes into a cafe and orders seaweed and sunflower seeds. To me that’s as farfetched and mismatched as “Aliens and Cowboys.”
There is one approach, however, that might play into this phenomenon. The other night I watched “The Flight of the Phoenix” where the airplane crashes in the African desert and the crew has to figure out how to survive. I probably drank a gallon of water during that movie.
They say that to be healthy, a person needs to drink eight glasses a day. As long as they are not serving camel burgers, maybe this kind of film should become a staple of my movie menu as well.
Walden is the editor/publisher of the Moultrie Observer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.