All humans are wired to desire food. We have to desire food for our survival. From the time you were a baby, you desired food. It is perfectly natural and normal to like to eat but we have evolved to LOVE to eat, to be wired to over-desire certain foods and creates challenges when trying to maintain health.
Nobody loves to eat more than me. I grew up watching food shows on PBS and then The Food Network, I had a paid job as a “foodie” and even went to culinary school. So, when I learned about how different foods affect the brain, I was shooketh.
When you eat food your body produces a mist of dopamine and serotonin to encourage you to eat more food later. Your brain is complex but its motivations are simple, “seek pleasure, avoid pain.” The reward of feel-good neurotransmitters ensures that you will, in fact, seek food again and therefore stay alive. Smart, right?
Over-desire for food wasn’t always a thing. Before the first McDonald’s existed, when food was less conveniently available, our food was pretty simple. Humans pretty much ate whole real foods long before it was trendy. We didn’t have modern conveniences or food science to keep food shelf stable. Going out to eat was pretty rare and for special occasions, not out of necessity. I still remember my mom telling me the story of how they had one birthday cake per year to celebrate all of her siblings because sugar was rationed during WWII. Just. One. Piece. Of. Cake. Per. YEAR! Can you imagine?
Now, if you live in a city, you can have anything you desire to eat delivered to your door in under an hour. It’s very easy to get food if you have the resources. Much of the food in a standard American diet is hyper-palatable. Convenience foods are prepared with highly processed low-quality fats, salts, and sugars. You might not even recognize what the ingredients are if you read the labels. The chemicals and additives they use also make the food taste unlike anything else and reward the brain with not just a mist, but a fire hose blast of dopamine and serotonin. That’s how your brain becomes wired to believe that these foods are THE most important foods on the planet.
When we try to rely on willpower to stop eating the foods that give us these intense blasts of feel-good chemicals, you will probably feel like you are suffering, because you are. This is why if you’re trying to lose weight by summoning your willpower you will not win, at least not the long fight. Eventually, you lose your grip and go back to your old ways.
Reducing your over-desire addresses the root of over-eating and ends the need to diet.
Can you imagine never dieting again?
Over-desire is what causes intense urges and cravings. The ones that drive you to the drive-thru even when you have chicken at home. They feel unstoppable and undeniable. It’s that feeling where you just have to have it...and now. That is why will-power shouldn’t be your strategy for getting healthy or losing weight and reducing your over-desire should be.
What if you didn’t HAVE TO HAVE a doughnut every time one came into the room? Not because you were white knuckling it and “trying to be good” but because you could honestly take it or leave it and without any mind drama.
To be very clear, it doesn’t mean you’ll never be to enjoy a doughnut again, but when you do, it will be your choice. You will choose the food, the food won’t choose you. That is freedom.