More Neuro Science Tricks to Help you Lose Weight!
Last week we took a quick look at how lowering the reward value of food can help us to lose weight. In his book “The Hungry Brain: outsmarting the instincts that make us overeat” Stephan J Guyenet outlines more new neuro science ideas that can help you harness the power of your brain to guide you to better more sustainable weight loss.
Reduce the variety of your food
This one makes perfect sense. Food variety is a very big deal to us. More options means more eating. Ever hung out a buffet table and tried to stop eating? Scientists call this the "buffet effect" . The more choice, the more stimulation, the more we want to eat. Think Christmas and every wedding, christening, party, celebration ever attended that included food. Also five small words that are guaranteed to stimulate our appetite at the drop of a hat "Hands up who wants pudding" - even when we are so super stuffed from the main course and starter, there is always room for more.
It seems that bouncing around from sweet and sour to BBQ chicken, from crispy duck to prawn noodles and back again results in a chronic failure to habituate what we are eating and means that we just keep on eating. Throw in the creation of the bliss point, the dopamine reward system and the ridiculous ease and availability of food anywhere and at anytime and we are in serious trouble.
Conversely, less choice is an easy way to feel full on less. If there is only steak available to eat and nothing else you will soon get tired of eating steak and stop. You will not carry on eating. You will get bored and stop, naturally.
When variety is low, we get tired of whatever we are eating faster, and we will eat less.
So, if you want to lose weight, how can you work that behaviour into your life and your way of eating?
We have to take the power back if we want to control our own health and body weight and its not going to be easy.
But don't let the big boys of the big food industry win and rob you of your life. It can be done.
And speaking of big boys and the fast food industry, here is our second helpful neuroscience trick as garnered from Stephan J Guyenet's book: The Hungry Brain.
Weight Loss Science: Control Your Environment
Yes, these are neuroscience tricks but they are also obvious too. To be fair, awareness is key and then implementation is simple although never easy. Because things have changed dramatically over the last twenty years in terms of the availability of ultra processed food, Its everywhere. No escape. Whatever we want is only a phone call away, a click of a button - we don't even need to leave the house to have our every desire met.
Guyenet says that it is the orbitofrontal cortex in the brain that calculates the effort involved to obtain the food, the energy content (reward value) of the food and whether it is going to be worth it. BUT in today's hyper stimulated environment, the orbitofrontal cortex is always going to say yes guys lets go for it because the reward is so high against the minimal effort it takes to obtain the food. The odds are hyper stacked against little ole me when I'm trying to make good choices, even my brain agrees! We become addicted to sugar.
Well no. Actually we don't agree. Here's the thing, you have a little knowledge and the ability to see what is going on. You can see what is driving your desire - its your orbitofrontal cortex and it thinks it knows best. Its time to fight back!
Make the decision to keep this hyper palatable food out of your home and environment. My coach Judy Wolfe at SUGARx Global says time and again that the only control we have is over that first bite. So don't make it easy to get that first bite. Control your environment. Watch for what is happening. Stay aware and don't give in, no matter what (or as Judy signs off every comment, email and podcast NMW)!
Don't buy the food. Don't keep it in your home. Make it so that you have to journey hard to get it if you really do want to eat it. Work on your orbitofrontal cortex to understand the real reward. Create a food plan and stick to it. Buy real food and only consume that.
Real food is by definition single ingredient food such as an egg, pepper, steak. If you buy food that requires actual cooking and preparation you will find that you make less of it. You will also be less inclined to over eat and of course second helpings look like an entirely different thing when you have to re make the whole dish from scratch to eat them!
Peeling oranges, shelling nuts, baking snacks from scratch is way more effortful compared to snarfing down a box of Maltesers - and guess what - your orbitofrontal cortex is going to tell you not to bother cos the reward ain't worth the effort - let's go do something else instead.
Share Your Experience
So there we have it, two simple tricks to harness neuro science to help us in achieving lasting and sustainable weight loss.
Do you have any simple tricks and ways to harness our brain power to work for us in weight loss? We'd love to hear from you! If not and you need lasting help, check out Kate's exciting new weight loss program at: Sugarsaddictive.com