Monday, December 30, 2013

The Craving Mechanism

Tell me if you’ve ever experienced this; you’re committed to a healthy eating plan, you’ve had dinner, you’re satisfied and you feel good.  Then you see popcorn, ice cream,  bread or candy on TV and the next thing you know you’re rummaging through the cupboards.  You weren’t thinking about food at all until you saw it!

According to willpower researcher Kelly McGonigal, PhD, there is a reasonable explanation and a solution to that craving mechanism. The craving mechanism in our brains are often triggered by the sight of food, which leads to a release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, our “I want that” chemical.  That starts a cascade that triggers stress hormones and a pain response that convinces us we need that food even more to alleviate the pain. The sight of the food itself creates the entire experience of craving.

Here’s the super cool part; simply recognizing that the mere sight of food has hijacked your brain and is creating the entire pain response and craving mechanism SHUTS DOWN the craving experience.  Paying attention to the response is inconsistent with how the reward system works and, in a way, short-circuits it.  Evolved mind-1, Caveman brain-0.


See more of Kelly here: 


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