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colette_heimowitz's Blog
Mind Control and Weight Control?

Did you know that brain imaging studies have shown that pictures of delicious food can stimulate the urge to eat? I’m sure you’ve been there. Think of a menu at a chain restaurant; how can you resist the smothered potato skins or sizzling burger and fries, not to mention the double-decker sundae, when the Technicolor pictures beckon to you so enticingly? While one part of your brain is urging you to eat, typically this response is countered by simultaneous signals coming from other parts of your brain that say “Don’t eat!” Or, at least “Don’t eat that! Try a salad with some grilled chicken instead!” The challenge? In obese people, the ability to suppress those initial signals to eat is often impaired. Why?

Our brains were wired for a time when food was scarce and starvation was common. That initial response to eat was truly a survival instinct, because you never knew when (or where) you would find your next meal. We face a much different problem than our ancestors. We live in a nation where food is abundant, often cheap and high in calories. We live in a time where the reward for cleaning your plate is dessert. Add to it that many obese people deal with excessive insulin output and insulin resistance, making it even more challenging to understand when you are hungry or not hungry. The more you teach your brain to override those “Don’t eat!” signals, the less you hear them. In fact, studies show that certain types of sugar affect these responses. Blood flow and activity in brain areas controlling appetite, emotion and reward decreased after consuming a drink with glucose, and participants reported greater feelings of fullness. After drinking fructose, those brain appetite and reward areas continued to stay active, and participants did not report feeling full. Glucose and fructose are typically found together in food and beverages, and more research needs to be done to understand how they affect the brain and body weight over time. But what this shows is that our brains do influence what we eat, and this could be a key to controlling the obesity problem.

The good news? Atkins trains your body to burn its own fat for energy. Once you start burning primarily fat, this leads to natural appetite control, which should make your cravings for the sugary, starchy foods decrease—and it should make it easier for you to override your brain’s signals, or at least help you make healthier choices when it is time to eat.

Published Thursday, May 09, 2013 01:54 PM by colette_heimowitz
Filed Under: Nutrition
Comments
mollytinkers said:
Isn't there also a train of thought that even smelling food, especially baked goods, can stimulate insulin production? I know it hasn't been proven, but it seems like I read somewhere it is a theory. It would certainly give some credence to that old cliche I can just smell food and gain weight.
May 09, 2013 02:02 PM EST
debbily said:
I so agree with this! What an excellent post on how our brains work! I have always said that "Once your mind has been made up then nothing can change it" I do agree that the brain is our biggest tool as we are trying to lose weight! Thank you for this post!
May 09, 2013 02:19 PM EST
colette_heimowitz said:
I used to joke that I can gain weight smelling food. There is no science to demonstrate smell can provoke an insulin response, but it certainly feels that way sometimes. My theory is that when you smell baked goods and restrain from having them, you wind up eating more than usual to supress the urge and that is why we may gain weight .
May 09, 2013 04:48 PM EST
Mrsrogo said:
I found a recipe on this site for a MIM, muffin in a minute using flax seed meal. I tested the recipe the other day and had an adverse reaction to the flax meal. Could almond flour or coconut flour or meal be substituted in place of flax meal and if so, how would the carb count be changed? Also, will Atkins website consider adding a recipe builder to the site so that we could build recipes on line that would calculate the nutritional value of a recipe to determine the net carb value of that recipe? Thank you for your consideration of these questions.
May 09, 2013 07:19 PM EST
GordiesMom said:
So maybe I should stop watching the food network :)
May 09, 2013 07:50 PM EST
vickicuce said:
Mrsrogo - I'm sure you could substitute the flours, but I've never tried it so I don't know how it would affect taste, etc. It would change the carb count. Flax seed meal has 0 NC, where 1/2 cup of coconut flour has 12 NC, 1/2 cup almond meal has 6 NC. This is still drastically better than regular all purpose flour, which has 23 NC in 1/4 cup.
May 16, 2013 12:59 PM EST
gigihein said:
Another cool thing about the brain is that out thoughts create neuropathways, I think of them like a groove in the grass where bikes ride through. When we notice a habitual thought and replace it over time it creates a new neuropathway. It makes it easier for me to know a craving, thought it could be triggered by a smell or eating something, I still can say this is just a deep groove in my brain and I am up for changing the groove for thoughts (hence behaviors) that will rewrite the new neuropathway.
gigi
May 19, 2013 12:40 PM EST
Capt. Stroh said:
I'm new to Atkins (and diets in general) by about 6 weeks now. I've been doing really well with very few cravings, but yesterday we popped into a small restaurant for lunch and it was really challenging due to the photographs of their desserts everywhere! On the menus, the table tops, the wall boards…seemingly everywhere! And they weren't just gooey, everyday looking desserts…no, they were exquisite looking delectibles! To top that off, I ordered an espresso after lunch and it came with a beautiful little chocolate chip biscuit on the side!
All in all a brutal dining experience that I barely survived! (Full disclosure: I caved and had a tiny bite of the biscuit, but quickly had the waiter remove the rest of it!)
May 22, 2013 12:04 PM EST
MeOnIt63 said:
Hello Colette,
I have a question about engaging in ATKINS way of life eating if one has been diagnosed with high iron levels (700 or so). Obviously this needs to be reduced and weight loss is necessary. To do this will be a change in diet plus medical intervention. So my question is, is the ATKINS diet safe for a person in such a situation and what elements of the ATKINS eating plan needs to be eliminated or reduced?
June 25, 2013 05:12 PM EST
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