Is your brain making you fatter than food is?

As much as I love teaching people new concepts, I generally shy away from using big words and hard to grasp science because I’m more concerned about the overall understanding than the nuances. But there is one element of eating science that is so important and has such a huge impact on the rest of our nutritional struggles that it is worth explaining even with the big word.

The concept is known as the Cephalic Phase Digestive Response. Cephalic means of or relating to the head so what this means is that the mind is literally responsible for 40-60% of the metabolic and digestive power every time we eat.

The way that translates to daily life is this: whenever you eat in a hurry or while doing two or three other things, it doesn’t matter how good or bad the food you ate was your body will not get the full nutritional benefit of it. More importantly you are likely to be unsatisfied and might even literally forget having eaten at all. If your mind does not register the smell, taste and pleasure surrounding the eating experience it will return to you very shortly with another call for food. So you are walking around thinking you are addicted to food or have a willpower problem when simply you are not giving your mind the full benefit of the experience and so it is doing what it does best in times of crisis. It overrides any effort we are making to control our appetite.

And to be more specific that very struggle to control our appetite which often pairs alongside feelings of stress in the way of weight hate, inadequacy, poor body image etc. actually prevents us from enjoying our food and therefore inhibiting the head phase of our digestive process. So while you are sitting there thinking “I shouldn’t eat this or I’m eating this, but I’d rather be eating something else”, you are compounding the very problems you are trying to avoid.

But before you worry that I’m just giving you something else to feel guilty about consider that what I’m actually doing is offering you the opposite. What I’m saying is to give up the stress. Slow down when you eat. Take whatever you eat and do it with the full awareness that your mind desires and needs. Enjoy your food and savor the experience and pleasure that comes with the eating process. I promise that if you do that at every meal or snack even for a few weeks it will transform the way you look at meals, food and dieting. And honestly what do you have to lose?

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