An article in the Sydney Morning Herald discusses our bodies’ mechanisms behind hunger, and why we find junk food so irresistible.
Ordinarily, your entire digestive system sends signals to your brain using hormones. Some of these hormones make you hungry, and some of them reduce your appetite to make you feel full.
This feedback process involves constant communication from your stomach, pancreas, intestines and more.
See this infographic from Time magazine for more on digestion.
However, this careful balancing process can be completely overridden:
“...in the presence of high-fat, high-sugar or high salt food, areas of the brain related to pleasure ‘‘light up’’, in a similar way to the brain changes seen in drug or alcohol addicts.”
Our brains associate junk food with pleasure and reward, so we’re hard-wired to crave it. As anyone who has tried eating just half a bag of chips knows, this craving quickly overpowers our regular hunger mechanisms, even if they’re telling us that we’re full.
The secret to not eating when you’re not hungry has nothing to do with willpower, or resisting your cravings. In fact, you should start by understanding just how powerful these sensations are.
This starts at the supermarket. Bringing processed and junk foods into your home puts them in contact with you every day, lighting up your brain whenever you’re standing in the kitchen deciding what to eat.
When you do get hungry while you’re out and about, it’s important to have some healthy snacks ready. Convenient snack foods could be fruit, nuts, seeds, or something prepared at home such as juices, salads or healthy sandwiches. Variety is important.
HSG can teach your team to make healthy food choices as part of our Corporate Nutrition Seminars. What else could your workplace do?