GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV)-Why do some dieters get so obsessive that they go on to develop anorexia while others successfully diet for a while and then stop whenever they want. Although no one knows the full answer to that question, we do know that part of the answer most likely lies within the brain. Our brain is the captain of the ship, therefore we must do what it commands even when the outcome is harmful. A well-functioning brain has the ability to turn on thoughts and turn off thoughts as needed. If you are trying to think positive yet stay stuck in a bad mood and then find yourself bingeing on food to comfort yourself, you are not alone.
Why does the brain sometimes not work as well as it should? Possibly because WE ARE WHAT WE EAT and our SAD (Standard American Diet) lacks many of the important minerals, vitamins and tens of thousands of plant nutrients that the brain needs to support focus, energy and a positive mood. The healthy foods we eat can make us smarter, offset depression, anxiety, ADD/ADHD and possibly even Alzheimer’s. Many people seek quick and easy foods that are easy to grab on the go or stick into a microwave. Food that has been precooked, frozen and microwaved offers about as much nutrition as the cardboard it comes in. A healthy food regiment has been shown to include raw or lightly steamed vegetables along with a wide variety of fruits and whole grains.
In a recent poll 52% of Americans believed doing their taxes was easier than figuring out how to eat healthy which may explain why over 10 billion donuts are consumed in the US every year. When things get overwhelming it is easier to just give up and give in. Poor nutrition leads to low energy which in turn can make life feel overwhelming, increasing anxiety and worry. Humans are programmed to seek comfort to help us cope with stress so it is not unusual that we should turn to food as an easy solution.
Our brain influences whether we make good or bad choices. Someone who has slipped from taking off a few pounds by dieting into binge purge behavior or anorexia must reach out to an expert who understands how the brain influences behavioral choices. It has been shown that when we eat nutrient dense foods such as fruits and vegetables not only does our brains function better but we also start to crave healthier foods. Set a small goal such as adding one piece of fruit or an additional vegetable into your meal plan every day. You can’t eat too many servings, and in fact, the USDA now recommends that adults eat 7-13 servings of fruits and vegetables every day, up from 5-9. To be happy and healthy – eat well and live well.
-From Rosalyn Baker, LMSW, LMFT, MAC, CNC Psychotherapist, Neurotherapist at Fountain Hill