Impulse Control: For overeating and other vices

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Everyone knows that a lack of impulse control is why people overeat and indulge in other unhealthy vices. The problem for most people is that they do not understand the nature of the pleasure-driving impulses…that is, where the impulses come from and how to modulate their power, so the impulses are less compelling. Instead, most people “feel” and “believe” that they “are” the impulses and so rather than fighting the impulses, most indulge.

The especially difficult challenge with food is that we need it to survive. That is, we cannot live without food. In contrast, one can live without infidelity, drugs, over-drinking, and gambling, which is why most people are able to avoid these vices. Food is more problematic because we need it to survive and now in the modern day, an excess amount of calories are everywhere we go in our “obesogenic” environment, so it is not surprising that most people are overweight or obese.

To over come eating and other vices, we need to understand the nature of the pleasure-seeking system that is hard-wired into the human nervous system. It is called the mesolimbic dopamine reward pathway. The video associated with this blog article illustrates the pathway in the human brain so you can picture it in your mind when the impulse to eat kicks in. The reward pathway and what to do about it is also described in my new book entitled Weight Loss Secrets You Need To Know.

The problematic issue with the mesolimbic dopamine reward pathway is that it is never satisfied. This is because it is not a “satisfaction” pathway. The pathway is actually a stimulation pathway or motivation pathway. Whenever we see, smell, or think about our favorites foods (which are mostly high in sugar, flour, and oils/fat), the “motivation” pathway kicks in and compels us to seek out and eat these “foods,” which I call “dietary crack.”

The best way to combat the “motivation” pathway is to avoid the unhealthy stimuli that activate it, and seek out healthy stimuli. This means we need to keep dietary crack out of the house – and commit to only keeping and eating healthy “deflaming” foods in our houses. The power that “dietary crack” has on us lessens over time. However, we also need to find healthy activities that can occupy our minds and mesolimbic system – this can be exercise, yard work, surfing, volunteering, etc. Find out which healthy activity stimulates your reward/motivation pathway, and then replace “dietary crack” with this activity.

People also need to know that certain lifestyle factors can ramp up the excessive over-eating impulses felt by many people, the most notable are stress, a lack sleep, and a lack of physical activity. Each is described in practical detail Weight Loss Secrets You Need To Know.

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