Why is it that we tend to eat foods like french fries and cookies until our belts pop, but that doesn’t happen with carrot sticks and apples?
We all overindulge sometimes, and I bet that a lot of you tend to beat yourselves up after eating a few handfuls too many chips or gorging on ice cream. You feel like your willpower failed you, right? It turns out that the problem might be the way that high-fat and high-sugar foods affect our brains.
At the annual American Psychological Association meeting Terry Davidson – director of the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience at American University – talked about how diets high in fat and sugar can damage the hippocampus, which makes it harder for us to stop eating. Some experts also think that the hippocampus helps directly control how much food we want to eat. Davidson said that when rats have damage to the hippocampus, they tend to overeat.
Of course, if you’re regularly eating a diet high in fat and sugar, like the Standard American Diet (SAD), there’s also the tendency towards obesity, which may harm your brain in other ways. A 2011 study found a link between obesity and memory problems, including a higher risk for developing dementia.
So, how do we break the cycle? There’s definitely a need for more research on this topic. In the meantime, ditch the SAD in favor of whole, unprocessed foods! You can try substituting healthy foods for fatty and sugary ones. Instead of reaching for a cookie, try an apple or some fresh blueberries. If you’re craving chips or fries, go for some roasted veggies, carrots and hummus, or even oven fries to satisfy that savory craving.
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by Gudlyf