The Marshmallow Test, Distraction and Food Addiction

In 1960 a study was conducted at Stanford University by Walter Mischel and Ebbe B. Ebbesen to learn more about when the control of delayed gratification, develops in children. I am now 37. I still regularly fail at this.

In what became the first social experiment relating to discipline, the scientists used a small random sample.  Children were brought into a room and told they could have one marshmallow now or if they waited 20 minutes they could have 2. Only a small portion of the children decided to wait. When these children became adults they all seemed to fair better, because they were able to delay gratification and build towards something more then just pleasure in the moment. This study haunts me. Despite being fully onboard with the logic that I would benefit if I didn’t let my desires overcome me, I lack strength in the key moments to achieve it.

When the scientist explored what tactics the children used to maintain their will power, the key seemed to be that the children who succeeded, successfully distracted themselves. The irony that one of my other chief weaknesses (distractibility) could be an asset in overcoming my lack of discipline is very interesting to me.

When I am inspired and motivated I consider my work ethic a force of nature. When I can see what needs to be done I keep going well beyond what most people would be willing to do. However, in many key areas due to my type 1 diabetes I am running out of time to keep running from issues I haven’t dealt with. My key failings stem from food addiction and procrastination…complicating things are the side effects of my lifelong poorly managed Type 1 Diabetes.

Until just recently the side effects of my poorly managed diabetes were minimal. I have been very lucky for the amount of damage I’ve left myself vulnerable to, due to poorly controlled blood sugar. The vision in my right eye is mildly compromised due to retinal neuropathy, I have large benign masses in both of my breasts and my feet/hands have intermittent tingling, signs of the beginning of nerve damage.

Growing up, I resented what I felt my diabetes required of me. My solution was to live as I wanted with the understanding that when I was older and the complications arrived, I would accept them gracefully…. If gracefully is planning to off myself when the complications were more then I wanted to deal with. I felt that at least, I could look back on a life lived exactly as I wanted while I was alive. I developed this coping strategy at 11 and have not wavered from it except briefly for the 2 years I was trying to conceive. It is a very rewarding if terribly flawed strategy.

Fast forward 25 years later and some of the more serious complications are appearing on the horizon.  My circulation is suffering, I regularly have tingling in my extremities. It takes weeks for my body to heal from minor cuts and scrapes, evidence that my body’s ability to heal itself is compromised.

As this website develops, I am building a life for myself and goals that will keep me motivated and enjoying things that are not binge eating by myself. My goal is to distract myself away from food and other bad habits by creating a supportive, online community where people can learn they deserve love and good things and try their hand at creative artistic endeavours that can improve quality of life and community, both online and hopefully someday in what I lovingly call “Kat Park”.

I welcome shared experiences and I give kick ass pep talks…if you have something to share or need encouragement, feel free to reach out. Where ever you find yourself at this moment, may you have hope for change for tomorrow.

 

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