Most of us know that junk food is unhealthy. We know that poor nutrition is related to heart problems, high blood pressure, and a host of other health ailments. You might even know that studies show that eating junk food has been linked to increases in depression. There is an answer. And the science behind it will surprise you.
Gibson, E. Mood state effects of chocolate. Diehl, D. Steffanson proved it in Maeda, N. Neuropsychobiology 57, —
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Try these techniques Psychology of eating fatty foods begin the journey. Hear From Our Graduates. Weight loss, therefore, is not the Titanic bank bottom money door. Signup for your FREE Introductory Class and discover the missing ingredient to help others finally solve their food, body, and weight concerns We will only send you awesome stuff! I have started loving my body again, and giving myself permission to receive pleasure — I feel reborn! The key, as always, is listening: to your heart, your gut, your hunger and your body. Journal Psychology of eating fatty foods American Medical Association — June Researchers have estimated that fattt to 45 percent of all prescription drugs may owe their effectiveness to placebo power and that 67 percent of all over-the-counter medications, such as headache remedies, cough medicines, and appetite suppressants, are also placebo based. Labeling yourself in this way can create an addiction consciousness and set you up for a lifetime of battling food and diverting life energy to managing your addiction, while also in some ways keeping you connected to it. But fat- and sugar-laden foods help your body build up reserves and stay in the game of life. Rating papers have found openness to experience to predict consumption of healthy foodstuffs like fruit and vegetables, and nuts, red wine and fiber. One longitudinal study found that weight gain over two years was predicted by extroversion alone.
Food is a potent natural reward and food intake is a complex process.
- What we eat affects how we feel.
- Food Addiction is a hot topic in the health and wellness industry.
- We do highly encourage that each person openly explores the wide variety of nutritional approaches and dietary strategies that are available to them.
Verified by Psychology Today. Don't Delay. His most recent study, about to published in the journal, Health Psychology , has revealed something interesting about our self-control in terms of fatty-food consumption.
I'm writing about it here in the Don't Delay blog, because I think his research has implications for our understanding of procrastination as well. His focus is on Executive Control Resources, "ECR" for short, that represent the self-reflective and self-regulatory capacities of our brains.
These cognitive skills are typically thought of as higher mental processes associated with the prefrontal cortex although these processes are most certainly distributed in complex ways throughout the brain.
In sum, our executive functions or Executive Control Resources ECRs provide us with the capacity to control our behaviors - even prepotent responses like the evolutionary adaptation of consuming fatty foods. We can't access these brain functions directly at least not yet. What Peter did in this study was to measure a few cognitive thinking tasks that reflect this self-control capacity.
Our ECRs vary between individuals. We each have a different capacity for self-control much as we might think each of us having different amounts of athletic or intellectual ability. The Study Peter and his students collected data from adults between the ages of 18 and 89 average age of about 45 years. These volunteers provided information about their body mass, a variety of demographic variables gender , occupation, marital status, etc.
The general approach to task inhibition is important to understand in this research paradigm, as it reflects the inhibitory control of executive function. The approach to measuring this self-control ability was to test the participants' ability to resist responding to inappropriate stimuli presented on a computer.
These tests have different formats known as things like "Go No-Go" tests or the "Stroop test. The accuracy and speed of responding is important here, indicating the ability to resist or inhibit the inappropriate response. The Results As they hypothesized, there was a positive association between ECR strength and avoidance of fatty foods.
This did not vary by age. That is, stronger ECRs predicted lower consumption of fatty foods similarly for young, middle-aged, and older adults. Interestingly, the beneficial effects of ECRs appeared to be selective to fatty foods; they did not predict frequency of consumption of non-fatty foods. Note: You can hear an interview with Dr. Rabin discussing this research on my iProcrastinate podcast.
Hall notes that a number of possibilities exist, including aerobic training, which is thought to enhance cortical function through the effects on blood flow, neurogenesis, and neuronal connections. For example, older adults who engaged in aerobic training demonstrated behavioral performance improvements on tests of ECR, and fMRI imaging revealed enhanced operation of the frontal lobes when doing a cognitive task. Hall concludes that, "At minimum, integration of aerobic training into behavior change interventions might represent an important future avenue of research and practice.
Hall also emphasized environmental factors in the self-regulation of fatty-food consuption. Specifically, he argues that it's important to reduce the extent to which the environment impels us to rely on our ECRs to make healthy food choices.
It's more difficult to stick with our healthy-eating intentions when we're in ecological contexts saturated with cues to consume fatty foods. He writes, "To the extent that our physical and social environments can be reengineered to reduce our selective exposure to cues for fatty food consumption, individuals may be more able to make free and informed food choices in the general population. In short, environmental restructuring could reduce the need for self-regulatory resources biologically imbued or otherwise in making healthy food choices.
Implications for Procrastination As Hall and his colleague Geoffrey Wong had written in an earlier paper, this focus on executive function and self-regulatory capacity has important implications for many of our goal-directed behaviors. In a recent doctoral exam on which both Peter and I served as examiners, this focus on the importance of executive function included procrastination.
The lower our ECRs, the higher our procrastination. At this point, I think that some readers will be thinking, "like who didn't know that?! Yes, it is. The contributions that Peter Hall and researchers like Laura Rabin are making is fine tuning our understanding of just what aspects of our self-control are important, for example, inhibition.
They are also making clear suggestions for change: exercise and "pre-empting what's tempting" are two clear examples. This research also underscores how we are "like all other people, like some other people and like no other person," to borrow from some pioneers of personality psychology. We are like all other people in that all share these common features of executive function as an evolved capacity of the human brain. We are like some other people in terms of our relative ability or "strength" in this regard.
Finally, we each have our own personal histories and contexts which have shaped our unique limitations or "buttons" that, if pushed, may lead us to follow the prepotent response - indulging in that fatty dessert when our diet says no, or needlessly delaying a task when our intention was otherwise.
This means that we might all benefit from common strategies shown to strengthen ECRs, but we also must look carefully at our own lives for triggers, situations and emotional responses that defeat our self-regulatory capacity.
This is the sort of wisdom about self that can make all the difference in our ability to make the choices we want and to be the person we want to be. Finally, what I take from this research is a renewed focus on what it means to be "fit" or "strong. It's also our mental "fitness" and readiness to exert our will with a healthy, well-exercised self-regulatory capacity.
References Hall, P. Health Psychology. DOI: Hall, P. Temporal self-regulation theory: A model for individual health behavior. Health Psychology Review, 1 , Rabin, L.
Nutter-Upham, K. Academic procrastination in college students: The role of self-reported executive function. Journal of Clinical And Experimental Neuropsychology, 33 , There is growing evidence that Executive Control Working Memory and Gamma brainwaves are all associated.
With further study, it very well turn out that measuring brainwaves is an excellent way to study Executive Control:. Recent results demonstrate that working memory is organized by oscillatory processes in the theta and gamma frequency range.
Similarly, children with better attention and inhibitory control, the ability to moderate or refrain from behavior when instructed, also had higher gamma power. This is so interesting, as I experience this often. To provide some background, I have an addictive personality. I'm not the one to stop at just a little.
I do things over and over and over, until I'm addicted. It can be anything, but what's taken the longest to purge has been sexual addiction. Mostly, Internet pornography and all the addictions associated with this type of behavior. Anyway, through therapy and lots of soul searching, I've really gotten a grasp in this area. Well, I've noticed this correlation with fatty foods and my past addictions.
In fact, I had not really noticed it until just recently like within the last months. I've noticed that after I've gorged myself on a fast food meal supersized of course , I am overcome with feelings of great arousal. My desire to view pornography and fall into the full array of past habitual events becomes almost too overwhelming to handle.
It can be quite exasperating. This blog post really explains a lot and provides more fodder for the cause. I'm a couple of years away from 40 and this really adds to an already acute awareness that I need to take better care of my health.
Just a brief note about procrastination itself, I appreciate your work. I catch only your most recent blog posts and haven't made it a great priority to read the older ones, but I do read some occasionally. What has impressed me the most in all this has been a large correlation to "just get started" in kicking addictions.
I'll be going back to school to get my Masters in family counseling and plan to focus on addictions. As already noted, I deal with this already in my life and I'm a firm believer that you can't help others if you haven't first helped yourself. I work with a group in church and in day to day conversations. I share these principles with others and it's so gratifying to see the light bulbs go on as they did for me. Thanks again for all the work you do!
Timothy A. Pychyl, Ph. An overlooked volitional skill is increasing incentive through meaning. Back Psychology Today. Back Find a Therapist. Back Get Help. Back Magazine. Subscribe Issue Archive. Back Today. Is Autism Becoming Neurodiversity? Timothy A Pychyl Ph. Follow me on Twitter. Connect with me on LinkedIn. Fat is, indeed, where it's at Submitted by digitap on October 2, - am. Post Comment Your name. E-mail The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
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Extroversion Third, the literature suggests that extroversion is a liability when it comes to healthy eating. What we eat affects how we feel. Every day, millions of people eat and drink while thinking strong and convincing thoughts about their meal. Back Magazine. Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. In fact, America has an obesity problem so it is good for many to lose weight But, not eating fat, or severely restricting intake as the means to get there IS the issue. Food addiction is when a particular food or substance hijacks our normal brain chemistry response and literally takes over and compels us toward over-consumption of that food, consequently creating health problems and weight gain.
Psychology of eating fatty foods. Student Success Stories
Is A High-Fat Diet Healthy and Safe? – Psychology of Eating
Most of us know that junk food is unhealthy. We know that poor nutrition is related to heart problems, high blood pressure, and a host of other health ailments. You might even know that studies show that eating junk food has been linked to increases in depression. There is an answer.
And the science behind it will surprise you. Steven Witherly is a food scientist who has spent the last 20 years studying what makes certain foods more addictive and tasty than others. According to Witherly, when you eat tasty food, there are two factors that make the experience pleasurable. First, there is the sensation of eating the food. This includes what it tastes like salty, sweet, umami, etc. Food companies will spend millions of dollars to discover the most satisfying level of crunch in a potato chip.
Their scientists will test for the perfect amount of fizzle in a soda. These factors all combine to create the sensation that your brain associates with a particular food or drink. The second factor is the actual macronutrient makeup of the food — the blend of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates that it contains. In the case of junk food, food manufacturers are looking for a perfect combination of salt, sugar, and fat that excites your brain and gets you coming back for more.
There are a range of factors that scientists and food manufacturers use to make food more addictive. Dynamic contrast. Dynamic contrast refers to a combination of different sensations in the same food.
This rule applies to a variety of our favorite food structures — the caramelized top of a creme brulee, a slice of pizza, or an Oreo cookie — the brain finds crunching through something like this very novel and thrilling. Salivary response. Salivation is part of the experience of eating food and the more that a food causes you to salivate, the more it will swim throughout your mouth and cover your taste buds.
For example, emulsified foods like butter, chocolate, salad dressing, ice cream, and mayonnaise promote a salivary response that helps to lather your taste buds with goodness. This is one reason why many people enjoy foods that have sauces or glazes on them. Rapid food meltdown and vanishing caloric density. In his best-selling book, Salt Sugar Fat audiobook , author Michael Moss describes a conversation with Witherly that explains vanishing caloric density perfectly….
I brought him two shopping bags filled with a variety of chips to taste. He zeroed right in on the Cheetos. Sensory specific response. Your brain likes variety. When it comes to food, if you experience the same taste over and over again, then you start to get less pleasure from it.
In other words, the sensitivity of that specific sensor will decrease over time. This can happen in just minutes. Junk foods, however, are designed to avoid this sensory specific response. They provide enough taste to be interesting your brain doesn't get tired of eating them , but it's not so stimulating that your sensory response is dulled.
This is why you can swallow an entire bag of potato chips and still be ready to eat another. To your brain, the crunch and sensation of eating Doritos is novel and interesting every time. Calorie density. Junk foods are designed to convince your brain that it is getting nutrition, but to not fill you up.
Receptors in your mouth and stomach tell your brain about the mixture of proteins, fats, carbohydrates in a particular food, and how filling that food is for your body. Memories of past eating experiences. This is where the psychobiology of junk food really works against you. When you eat something tasty say, a bag of potato chips , your brain registers that feeling.
The next time you see that food, smell that food, or even read about that food, your brain starts to trigger the memories and responses that came when you ate it. Food companies are spending millions of dollars to design foods with addictive sensations. What can you and I do about it? Is there any way to counteract the money, the science, and the advertising behind the junk food industry? The good news is that the research shows that the less junk food you eat, the less you crave it.
My own experiences have mirrored this. As I've slowly begun to eat healthier, I've noticed myself wanting pizza and candy and ice cream less and less.
Whatever you want to call it, the lesson is the same: if you can find ways to gradually eat healthier, you'll start to experience the cravings of junk food less and less. I've never claimed to have all the answers or any, really , but here are three strategies that might help. The best course of action is to avoid buying processed and packaged foods.
If you limit yourself to purchasing foods that are on the outer ring of the store, then you will generally buy whole foods fruits, vegetables, meat, eggs, etc.
Not everything on the outer ring is healthy, but you will avoid a lot of unhealthy foods. If something has more than 5 ingredients in it, don't buy it. Odds are, it has been designed to fool you into eating more of it. Avoid those products and stick with the more natural options. For example, you could dip a carrot crunchy in some hummus creamy and get a novel sensation.
Similarly, finding ways to add new spices and flavors to your dishes can make eating healthy foods a more desirable experience. Mix up your foods to get different sensations and you may find it easier than eating the same foods over and over again. At some point, however, you may have to fall in love with boredom.
Stress causes certain regions of the brain to release chemicals specifically, opiates and neuropeptide Y. These chemicals can trigger mechanisms that are similar to the cravings you get from fat and sugar. In other words, when you get stressed, your brain feels the addictive call of fat and sugar and you're pulled back to junk food. We all have stressful situations that arise in our lives.
Learning to deal with stress in a different way can help you overcome the addictive pull of junk food. This could include simple breathing techniques or a short guided meditation. Or something more physical like exercise or making art.
With that said, if you're looking for a better written and more detailed analysis of the science of junk food, I recommend reading the 1 New York Times best-seller, Salt Sugar Fat audiobook. One of my goals with this article is to reveal just how complex poor eating habits can be.
Junk food is designed to keep you coming back for more. Close Search JamesClear. Menu Skip to content Skip to primary sidebar Skip to footer Most of us know that junk food is unhealthy.
But if it's so bad for us, why do we keep doing it? Why We Crave Junk Food Steven Witherly is a food scientist who has spent the last 20 years studying what makes certain foods more addictive and tasty than others.
Here's how they do it… How Science Creates Cravings There are a range of factors that scientists and food manufacturers use to make food more addictive. The result: you tend to overeat. In his best-selling book, Salt Sugar Fat audiobook , author Michael Moss describes a conversation with Witherly that explains vanishing caloric density perfectly… I brought him two shopping bags filled with a variety of chips to taste.
All of this brings us to the most important question of all. How to Kick the Junk Food Habit and Eat Healthy The good news is that the research shows that the less junk food you eat, the less you crave it. Eat a variety of foods. As we covered earlier, the brain craves novelty. Find a better way to deal with your stress. Where to Go From Here One of my goals with this article is to reveal just how complex poor eating habits can be.
T hanks for reading. You helped save a life. Whenever you buy one of my books , join the Habits Academy , or otherwise contribute to my work, 5 percent of the profits are donated to the Against Malaria Foundation AMF. With each donation, AMF distributes nets to protect children, pregnant mothers, and families from mosquitos carrying malaria. It is one of the most cost-effective ways to extend life and fulfills my bigger mission to spread healthy habits and help others realize their full potential.