When we eat food, we often do so based on our emotions. The problem is that too many times we are “living to eat” rather than “eating to live.”
Researchers have now discovered that what a person focuses on prior to eating actually activates different parts of the brain and result in more healthy choices when it comes to food. It depends on whether the person decides that the food is healthy or whether it is merely tasty.
We are often faced with this decision. Should I eat that donut or apple for breakfast? Fried chicken or a salad for lunch? Right?
Making that choice, it turns out, is a complex neurological exercise. But, according to researchers from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), it’s one that can be influenced by a simple shifting of attention toward the healthy side of life. And that shift may provide strategies to help us all make healthier choices — not just in terms of the foods we eat, but in other areas, like whether or not we pick up a cigarette.
When you decide what to eat, not only does your brain need to figure out how it feels about a food’s taste versus its health benefits versus its size or even its packaging, but it needs to decide the importance of each of those attributes relative to the others. And it needs to do all of this more-or-less instantaneously.
Through their studies of the brains of the participants in these studies they actually determined that their brain waves changed and different sections of the brain were activated in response to these cues prior to eating!
“This increased influence of the health signals on the vmPFC results in an overall value for the food that is based more on its health properties than is the case when the subject’s attention is not focused on healthiness,” says Hare.
These results are most likely not limited just to choices about food, Hare says. “Our findings are also relevant to the current changes to cigarette warnings many governments have started to make,” he notes. “These changes include adding graphical images of the health risks of smoking. It remains to be seen whether these images will be more effective in drawing attention to the unhealthiness of smoking than the text warnings. If the graphical warnings do increase attention to health, then our results suggest that they could decrease the desire to smoke.” [Full article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110727122815.htm]
What do you focus on when you eat? Merely the taste – or the benefits you will experience from that food?
Think about it.
If you have questions about diet or nutrition and would like to make an appointment, call us today. We’re here to help!
Your St. Paul Chiropractor,