Good Food and Training Can Help You Enjoy The Simple Things Once More.
When I was a little girl, I rarely wanted to stop playing in order to eat. I would rather play outside in the sandbox or on the swings. On rainy days I didn’t want to leave my dolls or drawing in order to have lunch or dinner. Most of the time, eating was just something I did before learning, living, and playing.
I was a healthy and energetic child, but I do remember having terrible eczema in the Winter, and frequent stomach aches. At some point in my early childhood, my Mother’s doctor had convinced her to stop serving the family so many eggs, and replace them with cold cereal and a children’s vitamin.
I remember how hard it was to get full and satisfied on the new breakfast cereals like Quisp, Trix, and Capn’ Crunch. I used to want two or three bowls, and the Capn’ Crunch would scrape up the roof of my mouth, but I’d keep eating it.
By the time I was eight years old, I was getting more than chubby. In later years I started to have early dental issues, and I was regularly overeating. I just couldn’t seem to get satisfied the way other people could.
About a year ago, I came across an article from the late 1990’s that offered a possible explanation for what was driving my overeating. That article introduced me to Reward Deficiency Syndrome, its causes, and consequences.
This recent article has an excellent description of Reward Deficiency Syndrome:
RDS is the consequence of a difference in the D2 Dopamine receptor. Dopamine controls our feelings of pleasure and reward, and when reward deficiency syndrome is present, the individual doesn’t respond to dopamine as readily. This means that the low does of dopamine that some from completing a simple task or eating a simple healthy meal might not register strongly enough in the brain to make those activities feel worthwhile.
The RDS brain needs a bigger stimulus to get motivated, and sugary starchy foods are especially problematic for people like me who have RDS. The sugar is tempting enough that I’m motivated to seek it out, and the rush I get from eating it makes it incredibly hard to stop. On top of that, the over stimulus of sugar and starchy carbs can de-sensitize the dopamine receptors. There is evidence that dopamine receptors can be harmed by just a two week period of indulgence in highly processed snacks and sweets.
Here is a link to an article for a closer look at sugar’s impact on brain chemistry.
So how can you feel good without sugar or other stimulants like alcohol and nicotine? A simple, whole food, sugar free diet can bring relief from cravings, and a re-connection to non-food activities. A program of resistance training can help manage blood glucose, and reduce the insulin resistance that can also make it harder to respond to dopamine. As dopamine receptors recover, and insulin sensitivity improves, better physical and emotional well being starts a positive feedback cycle. Eating, exercise, and fun combine to create a win, win, win, situation.
You can use the Sugar Freedom Diet on this blog, or simply start to choose Whole Foods from the outside aisles of your grocery store. In addition, 20 minutes of resistance training three times a week, plus time for fun and hobbies like gardening, music, sports, art, or dance can expose you to regular doses of dopamine, and happiness.
Our world is full of expensive, time consuming distractions. I encourage you to think about activities that could make you feel like a kid again, and make a little time for them.
Be well, and eat for yourself,