You probably know the feeling – that sensation of “Awwww, this tastes heavenly!” followed in quick succession by “I could eat the entire package!”
Often, so begins a downward spiral that leads us to crave foods that trigger an appetite for more.
It’s a fact—most of us live to eat. Studies show that more than 1 in 5 adults are overweight, a third of which are obese, and we’re not even talking about children. Our society has gotten larger, and not necessarily geographically.
The mind is a wonderful thing. Our brains instinctively know the body’s energy needs. It also knows that our brains crave certain foods that create a feel-good boost of energy, one that sometimes lends itself to overeating – most frequently for the foods that aren’t good for us and/or prompt us to overeat.
Today’s popular foods and beverages (think carbs, certain oils, soft drinks, processed foods, and chocolate) have a knack for tricking our brains. It’s the empty-calorie food items that greatly heighten euphoric, “happy” feelings. Refined carbs (i.e., empty-calorie foods) have a knack for making us feel good. Our desire for more empty-calorie foods increases, and we fill ourselves with mood foods such as white bread, pasta, cake, cookies, and chocolates. The result: a downward spiral, healthwise, and waistlines that show it.
But what can we do about it? We’ve been ensnared by dopamine—the devilish neurotransmitter that’s heavily involved in the pleasure center within the brain.
The dopamine neurotransmitter is only as good as those who put it to good use. Common symptoms could include mood changes, focus issues, insomnia, fatigue, anxiety, and, in particular, compulsive overeating resulting in weight gain. As a brain neurotransmitter, dopamine influences alertness, attention, creativity, concentration, to name a few. Dopamine also affects brain processes that control movement and emotional response. Too little dopamine leaves us in craving mode (whetting our needs for food, stimulation, energy, even sex, etc.) while too much could potentially lead to addiction behaviors. In fact, many processed food companies bank on this behavior. Even some of their advertising is blatantly telling you their product is addictive. Remember the Lays potato chip ad? They tell us – “I bet you can’t eat just one.” You see they already know the hidden truth behind their ingredients. Unfortunately, for many people they don’t discover that truth until it shows up in their poor health.
It’s time to fight back! The next time you find yourself constantly going back to the candy dish or the chip bag, remind yourself that your mind’s playing tricks on you and it can’t fully help it. You are what you eat! Your brain is only begging for more “feel good” foods that ultimately make you feel bad. So, eat healthy foods and curb your desire to eat unhealthy treats.
Here’s a tip: Water is a wonderful filler and it does a body good.