Our Brain Hates Diets

Brain Regulation and Why Our Brain Hates Diets

Our brain hates diets and our punitive attempts at rapid weight loss. The basic role of the brain is to preserve life and maintain an equilibrium supporting physical, intellectual, and emotional functioning. Unless something goes wrong, we’re generally pretty unaware of the millions of interactions occurring between the brain and other body systems. Put another way:

Most of our brain is doing for us (or our body) what WE don’t have the time, knowledge, or capability to manage for ourselves.

Author’s note: Throughout Breakthrough! the use of WE or US or OUR refers to the frontal cortex (PFC) area of the brain. This is where our identity, perception, planning, thought, and executive functions reside.

WE don’t really control the autonomic functions of the brain that allows us to walk, talk, and breathe effortlessly. However, in order to self-regulate eating behavior WE do have to develop some awareness of what our brain is doing to satisfy its immediate desires to achieve short-term balance (homeostasis). For those who have the workbook I’m talking about the interaction of the PFC, BETTY (Amygdala) and BRIAN, (the hypothalamus pituitary axis).

Brain Balance

In broad terms, our brain seems to have unique set points and preferred operating range determined by BRIAN. Left alone, BRIAN will do whatever he needs to in order to stabilize or maintain his desired comfort level. This does not mean, however, that BRIAN takes into account what’s healthy for us in the long run – that’s OUR job! For example, Brain will try to overcompensate for negative reward deficits and encourage addictive consumption until we relapse. Is relapse inevitable then? The answer is no! A primary concept from behavioral therapy is that if we have the right information, we can make healthy choices. When we combine this with the concept of allostasis, we realize that with consistent healthy choices, set points and range can be shifted.

In Session 2 of BreakThrough! we talk extensively about 4 parts of the brain: the frontal cortex, amygdala (emotions), hippocampus (memory), and HPA axis (control). When we understand the interactions between these then it’s easy to identify why certain mood states, cues and triggers lead to emotional eating. This awareness coupled with new skills and CHOICE Δ points gives us the ability to take charge of BRIAN and move past emotional and unhealthy eating habits. For more on Brian, Bitching Betty, the Hippo, and US please see this short video.

If you’re interested in learning more about this program, please browse our Read Blog and BreakThrough! pages. If you’re ready to make a change, schedule your free BreakThrough! consultation I’m Ready To Start


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