You know, there’s that common understanding that if something’s good for you, than it can’t be tasty. I’m here to prove everyone wrong!
First of all, the term brain foods refers to foods that are particularly high in the nutrients needed to create, protect, and repair brain cells. They also supply the building blocks of neurotransmitters — brain chemicals that control how well you learn and remember, how happy and motivated you are, and how well you can relax and enjoy life. Foods that are rich in essential brain nutrients will protect you against a variety of mental disorders now and degenerative brain diseases in years to come. And now the list!
Until next time, stay healthy & happy,
Should I have a second serve of roast? Should I go out for ice-cream? Should I see my ex for dinner? We often puzzle ourselves with these kinds of questions associated with our eating habits. We don’t just resume to deciding if one meal is healthy or not, we give everything extra meaning, trying to rationalize and decide if it’s ok to do it or not. It’s not only food we surround with this type of dilemmas, and even though we think they’re inoffensive thoughts, they may be more harmful than we admit.
Hundreds of studies taken during time have considered the power of mind over people’s eating habits and scientists have faced several interesting realities. The fact that our waitress is overweight is linked to our own weight or that labels truly influence taste & perception, may seem like some TV-show trivia, but they are actually tested in real life. I decided to let you in on the most interesting ways our mind plays with our eating (AND DIET) so you can beat your brain at its own game.
Follow these surprising insights below and I would love to know if you have verified any of them in your own day to day life.
1. When are you really full?
As we discussed in our article about mindful eating, we tend to think we eat as much as we need. Wrong! The quantity of food we ingest is dependent on lots of factors, including the way our plate looks, how the food smells or who we eat it with. Our mind plays this trick on us and if we don’t pay close attention, our medium portion turns into an extra-large because of this fake hunger feeling or just wanting to prolongue the experience.
2. If they say it’s bad, it must be
This is a matter of influence & perception: if you hear/read about something being bad, you start thinking the same. For example, it is a common belief that fat foods are bad for you. This leads to people avoiding small snacks with high-fat content in favor of large snacks with low-fat content or consuming more food at “healthy” restaurants – wrong on so many levels and you know it. We can call this a genuine mind trick, so now you know that not everything labeled bad is necessarily bad.
3. Taste fades in time
Unbelievable, right? But think about how much salt your older aunt needs. One study found that the ability to detect salt is most affected while aging and, depending on the flavor, older people may need between 2 and 9 times as much of a condiment to experience the same taste. Men seem to be particularly affected by this loss in the ability to taste. Yet again, mind-diet: 1-0.
4. Fat waitress = fat customers
This is definitely one of the most interesting international findings and a great example on how context can affect your choice of food. McFerran et al. (2010) found that people who were dieting ate more food when encouraged to choose unhealthy snacks by an obese waitress than when the waitress was thin. The opposite effect was registered for those who weren’t dieting. They ended up eating more when the waitress was thin. This may be simply because attractive (thin) people tend to be more persuasive.
There’s also a theory about fat friends leading to getting fat, but that’s rather simple to solve – try to stick to what’s good for you and don’t cave to social pressure!
5. Supressed food thoughts lead to eating more
I’m sure you’ve experienced this one. Say you’re on a diet and one day you get a craving for a chocolate bar. You deny this small pleasure, but it sticks its head out again the next day. And the next. Until it catches you at a moment when you’re really vulnerable or really hungry. What do you do then? You eat the whole pack. Now you have a name for this behaviour – suppressed food thoughts lead to binge eating. And now you know why cheat days were invented and seem to work for so many people dieting.
6. Mood affects food
This mind trick is really simple: if you’re in a good mood you tend to eat healthier things and take care of yourself more. If something bad happened to you (or you simply have a bad day), you’re going to indulge in some fries or lasagna. The very latest research, however, suggests that eating fruit and vegetables one day can actually improve your mood the next day (White et al., 2013), so now you have another reason to peel that orange.
7. Eating ideas is actually very tasty
Our mind started playing with us in this aspect the moment we started eating crazy stuff and bragging about it. It’s called ‘Conceptual consumption‘, and it’s defined as our desire to tick boxes on our experiential CVs. You’re going to eat the starfish cake and maybe even like it, because you want to know how it feels and of course, you want to be able to tell people you had the experience. Mind & society have the upper game on this!
Of course there are many more ways (complicated or very easy) we let our mind play tricks on us and as you see, habits and attitudes develop at the same pace as our social & economical life. We can’t beat our brain and any game, but it’s good to be informed and maybe win a round or two sometimes!
Until next time, stay healthy & happy,
Def: Nutrition psychology is a specialization of health psychology, an interdisciplinary scientific domain dealing with the implication of feeding behavior on human health and well-being. It involves information from such fields as nutrition, psychology, medicine, agriculture, and marketing. For example, consumer behaviors and decisions on food choice have a significant impact on health outcomes, including risks for obesity, heart disease and some cancers. These behaviors are affected by strong psychological aspects, which impact on people’s perception of nutrition and health.
What we eat affects how we feel.
The food we eat should make us feel good. It tastes great and nourishes our body. When food is eaten too little or excessive, our health and appearance may be changed, which can create negative feelings towards food.
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Nutritional Psychology perfectly combines the science of nutrition with psychology of eating, in a functional manner.
Nutritional Psychology is the science of eating behavior. Is essentially the study of how and why people do what they do in terms of choices, habits and lifestyle related to nutrition?
Nutritional Psychology is an exciting new field that explores how thoughts, feelings and beliefs impact on metabolism and nutritional health. Nutritional Psychology focuses on the fascinating connections between brain, body, digestion and behavior. It also brings to light how the social, emotional, cultural and spiritual life and scientific influence how our body literally digest and assimilate a meal, and how we burn calories.
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Bianca Patrascu is a Chartered Psychologist specialized in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Nutritional Therapist and Clinical Hypnotherapist, with a background in marketing and communication.
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Mindful eating is not a new concept, but it’s certainly not enough explored. While everyone worries WHAT they eat and how much they eat, mindful eating tells us that we should in fact pay attention to HOW we eat. Read on to find out more about this Buddhist “anti-diet” practice and learn how you can insert it into your daily lifestyle.
When starting a diet or just trying to eat better, everybody worries about the way they mix foods or the size of their portions. A rather new school of thought – supporting mindful eating – teaches us that what really matters is our ATTITUDE towards food. The moment when you start eating, what you do (or don’t do) while enjoying your meal or who joins you are factors that can influence your relation with food and, taking it a step further, your weight and overall well-being.
“Mindfulness” is the oriental concept behind mindful eating and while it may sound complicated, it actually translates into attention, care, involvement. It is not an all-or-nothing type of process, you can start practicing mindful eating at any time and put in as much effort as you want. All you need to remember is that it doesn’t have to involve changes in your meal plan, it just requires a bit of consciousness. You pay attention to your car or smartphone, why not your food?
If reading this article hasn’t yet convinced you to try mindful eating, let me break down some ground rules for you. You’ll see how easy it is to just set out one morning with a new goal in mind.
1. Eat when your body tells you to eat
All you need to do is eat because your body needs nourishment, not because you are bored, stressed or just want to take a break. Eating because your friends are eating is not an option, the best hunger signal comes from your body, so learn to listen.
2. Eat in silenceI know it may seem hard, but try to focus on your food and not your conversation. You’ll savor it better and maybe even eat less (although it’s not that important).
3. Eat away from the TV/smartphoneThey only distract you! Please remember the last time you ate in front of the TV – do you know what the food was? Exactly! Just try eating at your kitchen table, not on the couch! It will do wonders for your posture as well.
4. Eat slowly
Your mom was right when she told you to chew! Taking the time to savor your food is one of the healthiest things you can do: you are more likely to notice when you are full, digest easily and last, but not least, notice the flavor.
5. Pay attention
To your plate, to the flavor, to the origin of the food. They all matter and they all influence the way you relate to food. A crisp red tomato, a creamy avocado or a crunchy apple – don’t they all taste better when you acknowledge them and their benefits?
I hope these basic rules help you on your path to mindful eating, but in the end there is one thing I need you to remember: it is all a simple commitment to appreciating and enjoying the food you eat every day. You can apply mindfulness to eating a carrot cake, a salad or even your favorite pizza and it it’s more fun when it’s not a one player game: involve your family, friends or colleagues. I am sure they will all appreciate the new found tastes!
Until next time, stay healthy & happy,