You know the saying, “you are your own worst enemy”? Well, it’s true. We stand in our own way without even knowing it. And it’s not entirely our fault…we can thank our brain’s reward system. After eating a full meal, if someone were to offer you a carrot you’d likely turn it down because you know you’re full. But if someone were to offer you one of your favorite not-so-healthy treats, you’d make room in your belly to inhale it. Why?
Did you know the very sight of your favorite sugary, salty or fatty treats can trigger special neurons to release dopamine, which gives you a jolt of pleasure and makes you feel good? Your brain stores these feelings and experiences you get from eating your favorite unhealthy treat, so the very sight of it makes it easier to consume the next time – ensuring you’ll repeat the behavior in the future.
I’ve been experiencing the slippery slope of “just-one-bite” and it’s not just one bite. It’s beyond seduction; it’s a rush of feelings that completely take over my actions.
Since cutting out a lot of processed foods, salt, sugar and unhealthy fats, I crave less. I’ve been reprogramming my brain by feeding my body the healthy foods it needs and in return the cycle of craving and overeating is much less. The bad news is, if you surround yourself around one of your triggers or even let yourself indulge a little (like those damn chocolate cupcakes or even those “healthy” muffins), your brain takes over with its infinite memory of how good it feels and doesn’t want it to stop. I’ve been experiencing the slippery slope of “just-one-bite” and it’s not just one bite. It’s beyond seduction; it’s a rush of feelings that completely take over my actions.
So, what I’ve learned is to continue my efforts on eating healthy, real foods. Avoid sugary, salty and fatty treats that cause my brain to be triggered. Paying attention to even healthy foods that can cause this to be triggered, like natural sweeteners in recipes (e.g., bananas, dates, honey, maple syrup, etc.). And if I do have a treat, it’s probably a better strategy to buy one at a store or bakery than to have them in the home!
And sleep is so crucial for me. If I lack sleep, the next day is a drag and I feel hungrier than I really am. Plus, I don’t want to drink as much water after a poor nights sleep. And, I don’t know if this is true for you, but when I don’t drink as much water the more unhealthy foods I eat. All of these things compounded together makes a recipe for disaster.
➳ Any of you noticing this as well?
If you want to read more about how your brain responds to food or addiction, here are some interesting articles: