There is a mountain of evidence that points towards increased consumption of refined sugar which is both physically and mentally addictive; sugar increases dopamine levels in our brains and that makes us feel good. Human beings are no different from animals in that, if something makes us feel good we want to do it again and again. One triple chocolate muffin leads to another and before long one just isn’t enough to satisfy us so we take two and so it goes on.
Unfortunately, if you stuff your face with chocolate muffins on a regular basis you are going to get fat (I realise that’s not politically correct but it’s a fact). Some people are happy to be fat but some are not, they suffer emotionally when they see the pounds piling on but, ironically, the thing that is causing their emotional distress is also the thing that makes them feel good – refined sugar.
This is a viscious circle and it needs to be broken. Essentially there are two ways to do that: either go cold turkey and cut sugar out of your diet completely or find another, healthier way to get the same happy feelings that sugar gives you. Cold turkey can certainly work for some people, the physical addiction cycle will be broken in a few days, but only if the pleasure of losing weight outweighs the pleasure felt when eating sugar. If it doesn’t then you will feel deprived if you stop eating sugar, like you have lost something precious and the urge to go back to it will be stronger than ever. This is one of the reasons why people try one diet after another, lose a few pounds, and then gain them all back again and more besides.
There are other foods that increase dopamine in the brain which are much, much healthier than refined sugars – almonds, avocados, bananas, fish and dairy for instance. Of course, if you really want to give yourself a boost, your brain releases endorphins, serotonin, dopamine and adrenaline when you exercise.
Those same chemical reactions occur when we listen to our favourite music so, if you create a playlist of upbeat tunes, stick on your headphones and go out for a brisk walk you’ll be getting double bubble! Not only that but you’ll lose weight and, as you will have replaced one mood enhancer with another rather than depriving yourself of all those good feelings you will be more likely to keep the weight off.