Natural Weight Loss – How Emotions Control Food Intake

Natural weight loss is a great way to remove unwanted pounds. It helps to understand how different foods affect your emotions, which drive food-related knee-jerk reactions you may have from time to time.

Maybe you feel lethargic and reach for a candy bar mid afternoon? Feeling blue? You can put a smile right back on your face with a thick slice of chocolate cake! Can't get started in the morning? How about another quick cup of coffee brimming with sugar and cream to send you out the door!



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But are these quick food fixes really helping? Are people just making excuses for overindulge in 'comfort foods' and bad choices? New research supports the claim that certain foods affect our moods. In fact, studies show that certain foods alter brain chemistry which can result in drastic mood swings.

Natural Weight Loss – How Your Emotions Control Food Intake



The key to our emotions is found in various brain chemicals found within our bloodstreams. Scientists have discovered how some of these brain chemicals affect our moods.

By studying these chemicals and the foods that trigger their production, scientists believe that emotions can be controlled by the food we eat. Which foods trigger different emotions is an important part of any natural weight loss plan!

Over the past few decades, a great deal has been learned about the impact of emotions on eating behaviors and the role the brain plays in the management of these behaviors.

The study of food, appetite, behavior, and brain chemistry is still a relatively new science, but many strong connections between what we eat, why we eat, and the affects of different foods on our emotions have emerged.

Natural weight loss depends on understanding the associations we have with certain foods, and the patterns they create. Natural weight loss happens when we understand them and implement them into our weight loss plan!

Understanding Neural Patterns

Neural patterns between emotions and foods are established in our first year of life. The balance that was established at that time set a pattern and our bodies autonomously strive to keep or attain that precious balance.

Each of us have a unique balance in our brain based on the appropriateness of how our early needs were responded to. The role of emotions in weight management is complex as our ability to respond appropriately to our emotions and physiological needs are linked to this early pattern.

Our moods are manipulated by brain chemicals called 'neurotransmitters'. What you eat affects the formation of neurotransmitters and some diet related neurotransmitters have a significant affect on moods, appetite, and cravings.

When emotions are not expressed, recognized, or responded to, it upsets the chemical balance in the brain that's needed to maintain a natural balance that your body strives towards. This causes the brain to respond by sending us an impulse (or craving) for certain foods, to restore the balance.

These are both internal (hormones, feelings, pressures) and external (work, relationship, pressures) factors that affect your cravings for certain foods. In response to the emotions or stress, you automatically seek foods that will create the type of chemicals to restore the chemical balance.

The three neurotransmitters that seem to have the most affect on emotions and food consumption are Serotonin, Dopamine, and Norepinephrine.

These chemicals are made from common food nutrients such as Folic Acid, Vitamins B6 and B12, and Amino Acids.

If there is a deficiency OR overabundance of any of these nutrients, the levels of the neurotransmitters may trigger a change in mood. There is a strong connection between these neurotransmitters and the food you eat, your cravings, and your emotional states.

If these neurotransmitters are not available when needed by the brain to restore balance, an impulse is sent from the brain (in the form of a craving) for the type of food associated with the production of the needed brain chemical. (To bring back balance and make you feel good again.)

If you understand the why you crave certain foods and the impact that has on your emotions, you are better able to stick to a natural weight loss plan. Here's a brief explanation of each neurotransmitter and how it affects what you eat.

Serotonin

Serotonin brings about feelings of calm, happiness, well being and satisfaction. High amounts of Serotonin can cause you to feel sluggish and drowsy. Normal amounts of Serotonin signals feelings of fullness and reduced appetite. Low levels of serotonin are linked to depression, intense food cravings, and increased appetite. Many anti-depressents work by increasing the availability of serotonin in the brain.

Serotonin is a powerful mood enhancer and appetite regulator. Anyone striving for natural weight loss should be aware of how powerful it really is!

Carbohydrate rich foods increase brain concentrations of an amino acid called tryptophan, which is the building block for serotonin.

Although eating simple carbohydrates creates more serotonin, which in turn make us feel calm, peaceful, and satisfied, it can also create a vicious cycle. You feel good after eating them because they lead to an instant 'high' or energy boost, but your insulin and energy levels drop just as quickly, which can actually cause a rebound of depression or 'sugar low'.

This stimulates the need for more simple carbohydrates to get back the 'initial sugar high'.

Better carbohydrate choices are complex carbohydrates, which increase and release insulin levels more slowly. Examples are beans, whole grains, brown rice, oatmeal, peas, corn, whole grain pasta, yams or sweet potatoes, and lentils. Include these foods in any natural weight loss plan.

Norepinephrine and Dopamine

Norepinephrine and dopamine produce and release adrenaline in the body. Both are neurotransmitters that causes increased mental awareness and alertness, increased energy, and quicker, more accurate reaction times. Protein consumption causes these two neurotransmitters to be released in the brain.

Some research suggests that a high protein diet can enhance dopamine production. However, there are fewer reports of cravings and binges associated with high protein foods, such as lean meats, cheeses, eggs, peanut butter, or fish, than with high carbohydrate foods. High protein however should be part of any natural weight loss plan, as it is easily digested and will energize you.

However, a high protein diet can suppress serotonin levels, which decrease feelings of calmness and well being, yet increases craving for more serotonin producing carbohydrates.

Tired After Lunch?

If you get tired shortly after lunch, you may want to try adding 3-4 oz. of lean protein to your meal. Conversely, if you have trouble sleeping at night, you may want to limit protein at dinner and eat more carbohydrates.

Overeating, regardless of the protein content of the meal will cause drowsiness. Think about Thanksgiving meals and how sleepy you feel afterward. This happens because blood flow is redirected to the stomach to handle the food overload, and away from the brain, which affects mental alertness.

Light meals containing 300-500 calories, is the ideal amount of energy you need to maintain peak performance and maintain any natural weight loss diet.

*Also noteworthy are 'endorphins'. These are natural tranquilizers which are released with exercise or chocolate. Chocolate contains a chemical that is responsible for the endorphin response that is similar to the feelings experienced with a hug or being in love.

Recent studies suggest that for some people chocolate consumption can actually have the exact opposite effect, especially for those prone to depression. Instead of feeling good, these few people get even more depressed. Natural weight loss for these few people can be extremely hard.

Mood Swings

If you are prone to moodiness or mood swings, eating foods in their natural state is ideal. Good choices include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and dairy foods. Water consumption should also be a minimum of 10 glasses of water per day, as dehydration is a major factor that affects mood swings.

Limiting alcohol and coffee is also a good idea. Both are diruretics which dehydrates the body. Limit the amount of sugar you consume to around 200 calories per day. Excess amounts of sugar will cause 'sugar highs' which are always followed by 'sugar blues'.

It is encouraging to know that a powerful drive to overeat or to eat foods that have a negative impact on your health and weight has to do with brain chemistry. That realization should help you understand what you crave and why you crave it, and should be part of any natural weight loss plan.

The best natural weight loss happens when you understand your needs, feelings, and emotions with the foods that they are associated with. When you react in an appropriate manner, you can control those urges and regulate your brain chemistry.

You can influence your emotional states by eating foods that are rich with neurotransmitters that will naturally elevate your moods and regulate your sense of well being! The better you feel about you, the more control you'll have over your weight, naturally!

Always consult your physician before using natural remedies, especially for anyone with preexisting conditions or anyone currently taking prescription medications. Although many efforts are made to ensure that the advice given on this site is professionally sound, the advice is not intended to replace a mutual relationship with a medical provider.



Related Pages on This Site

Late Afternoon Fatigue - A Common Problem

Portion Size – Pay Attention to Lose Weight

What is Your Calorie Intake? Overfueled and Underactive?

Whats a Healthy Weight Anyway?

Raw Foods Diet – A Healthy Way to Lose Weight

High Protein Diet Foods – A Key Ingredient for Weight Loss


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