The Act of Eating: The Mind-Body Connection
Have you ever noticed that if you spell “stressed” backwards, it became “desserts”? What an interesting coincidence that we like to eat sweet things (or high calorie foods) when we are stressed! STRESSED = DESSERTS
Mind-Body ConnectionThe act of eating is controlled by three main regions in our brain. Imagine that three telephone conversations converge at one junction, which in reality is the meeting of three basic regions of the brain. Each region has something to tell you; each is sending neural messages to you at once. Each is seeking a different kind of satisfaction. The lower brain (controls impulses) is satisfied when you feel good physically. The limbic system (emotional brain) is satisfied when you feel good emotionally. The higher brain (the decision maker) is satisfied when you are making good decisions for yourself.
The miracle of the human brain is that all three lines can merge and cooperate. The lower brain can send the message “I’m hungry,” which the emotional brain accepts, because “Eating puts me in a good mood,” so the higher brain can say, “Let’s stop for a meal.” This balancing act is natural, and it works to the benefit of all three regions of the brain. None of them must force its message through, trying to get heard by pushing the others out of the way. Our brains have a pleasure center for food, and when all three regions works coordinately, it sends signal to stop eating as soon as we feel full. However, emotions can override hunger or make it unnaturally strong.
When you overeat, it may appear that the lower brain has run amok, forcing you into uncontrollable hunger. But the problem is actually systemic. Typically, it’s a blend of impulse control (lower brain), trying to find comfort (emotional brain), and making bad choices (higher brain). All three are involved, forming a continuous dance. This dance moves in a constant circle, as illustrated here: