Apparently, according to a study reported on this week, our brains react to the idea of snacks in the same way a cocaine addict’s brain reacts to the idea of their next fix.
For those of us who are currently fighting the good fight against the allure of sugar, we really didn’t need a study for something so obvious.
When I was
unemployed finding my own path, I used to spend hours on sites such as foodgawker or food blogs just staring at all of the delicious cakes and muffins. I tagged recipes of cookies, bundt cakes, brownies and fruit pies with levels of ingredients that I’d never dream of using let alone eating.
But I tagged and tagged and inevitably I cooked and ate.
I’d justify my cooking and eating with the sad excuse of “well, at least it’s not as unhealthy as that! Look! Mine has whole wheat flour and flax seed!”
Trust me, no one was fooled.
It was like a food version of thinspo. (Is there such as thing as foodspo? Anyone else care to admit to it? Or is it just me? 😳 )
Since I’ve started working, I haven’t had quite so much time to browse the food images like a starved puppy. Of course, the new evil is of the “instant gratification” kind. No time for home-baked cinnamon buns? No worries, just buy them at the local bakery at your next shopping trip! Win! Have more money now than before? Great! Go buy that double dip waffle cone for 6 bucks.
Here’s my goal: I want to be at a good place where my consumption is smart and my expenditure is sane.
I don’t want to be the person that has to run 5 miles AND do a high impact cardio routine all in the same day just to stay “fit”. Obviously there’s something wrong if I have to work myself to the bone just to maintain. On the flip side, I don’t want to be the person that diets and mistreats food just to stay slim when I should be living it up and learning how to jetski at 75.
I’m almost convinced that trying to ‘get to know your brain” is even harder than getting to know a perfect stranger. You can always walk away (or at least grin and bear it for a few minutes) if the person is the human equivalent of a heel spur, but you can’t leave your own brain. In fact, depending on how old you are, your brain’s been ruling supreme for decades and trying to get it to behave is like reigning in Tarzan – the minute it hears the call of the wild (anything baked in my case), off it goes swinging merrily away with little concern for you and your jeans.
I’ve been trying to find this balance for a while now, and each day is a challenge. I came home from my weekly shop today a bit cranky, really uptight and worn out. Was it due to fighting for a prime spot in the parking lot or trying to find a deal at Whole Foods? Nope. It was all due to resisting with every bit I could muster the cookies, cake slices and donuts laid out for me like an offering to the gods.
So, we had toast and tea and I felt a bit better.
The hope is that after a while (preferably sooner rather than later), my brain will just want less and less of the high carb/sugar foods and will be happier with the more stable proteins and whole grains. For the time being, I’m trying to coax it into compliance. I’m also trying to head it off at the juncture, so to speak, and anticipate when I really need to indulge and when it’s just a craving. It’s going to take a lot of mental strength, but at least I have boxes and boxes of tea in my pantry. 😉