This blog has now moved to head ♥ heart ♥ health

Recent posts from head ♥ heart ♥ health

Saturday, 30 December 2006


I am no psychologist but I have been reading about addiction and habits in relationship to eating. This is my amateur summary of the information that I have gleaned and has helped me in the last week.

A habit is formed when a neural pathway is created in your brain. Basically that means if a certain situation occurs your brain functions in a certain way almost by remote control. There is no conscious thinking involved. Think of riding a pushbike or driving your car. You don't put much conscious thought into doing either because you have established neural pathways that jump into action.

Now this is sometimes a good thing. I swear that exercise first thing in the morning is almost a neural pathway. I wake up, brush my teeth, put on my gym clothes and head out the door. There is not much conscious thought involved, no real decision making, I do it because it is a habit.

This can also be a bad thing. After I finish my dinner in the evening I always want a sweet snack or dessert to follow it. I never needed this before I changed my eating patterns, but I think I see it as a "reward" for eating well all day. I save up calories/carbs because I know I'll want my treat at the end of the day.

This craving is not hunger - it is addictive comfort eating. Sure I have managed to fit it in to my new way of eating, but I am still using food as a drug. This is not good.

So how do I retrain my brain, or break this habit?? Apparently, the trick is to consciously switch off the automatic response by making a choice. Sounds weird I know but it is kind of working.

When I get a craving for sweets, carbs, even carrots to satisfy my post dinner craving I now just consciously experience the craving. After all, it doesn't hurt. I say in my head "here is my brain working in automatic mode. I know that it is telling me that I need to eat to satisfy the urge. But I am making a choice - I choose not to. I am not going to try and distract myself from the thoughts by doing something else, I am going to sit this one out. I am consciously breaking the habit".

Sure enough the craving goes away. And each time you do it, it gets easier. What's good about it is I can still choose to have the sweet. I just have to consciously make it a choice rather than an automatic response. "Here is my brain working in automatic mode. I know that it is telling me that I need to eat to satisfy the urge. But I am making a choice. I will have something to sweet to eat at 9pm (whatever time) because I haven't eaten enough calories today and I want to continue to enjoy the good things in life in moderation. I have control over this decision, not my brain. I am consciously breaking the habit."

Sounds like a bit of a w*nk I know but you never know what might happen if you try.

After all, I live in my head, my heart and my body and they all need to be kept in line!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment