Believe it or not, what you're thinking—positive or negative—determines how your body decides to metabolize your food.
So, your relationship with food directly impacts your body composition, weight loss, energy level and so much more.
Don't believe me? Let's break it down.
Envision a plate of spaghetti with meatballs. If different people were looking at the exact same plate of pasta, no two would see the same plate of food or metabolize it the same way.
Sarah, the yo-yo dieter, might live her life according to low-carb rules and FEAR the heaping pile of carbohydrates.
Joe, the pro athlete, might see the plate as fuel—the perfect combination of carbohydrates and protein to support his rigorous training.
Trisha, the patient, who has been suffering from health-related issues sees nourishment and healing.
Greg, the scientist, may look at the plate and immediately see the makeup of the food—the breakdown of molecules, vitamins, minerals and macro-nutrients.
As you can see, people view food differently—some have emotional ties to food and others view it simply as a way to survive and thrive. Whichever bucket YOU fall in will determine how your body breaks down food—storing it as fat or using it as fuel. Literally, what you think and feel about food can have as much impact on how you metabolize it as the actual nutrients themselves.
(See: there is a scientific connection between mind and body for all of you doubting folks 😉)
So, let's break down exactly how your brain functions at the sight of food ...
Take an ice cream cone for instance. It's right in front of your face. Your brain starts to process it immediately ...
The thought of the ice cream cone first occurs in the cerebral cortex. From there, the information is carried to the limbic system or your "emotional brain" that regulates emotion and basic survival functions, like hunger, thirst, temperature, sex drive and heart rate.
The Hypothalmus, part of the Limbic System, then takes any sensory, emotional and thought input and translates it into a physiological response:
IF YOU LOVE THE ICE CREAM & EAT IT WITH DELIGHT:
You're positive thoughts and feelings will activate increased function in your salivary glands, esophogus, stomach, intenstines, pancreas, liver & gull bladder. In other words, your body will work in your favor to process the food properly.
IF YOU'RE FEELING SHAME & JUDGING YOURSELF FOR EATING THE ICE CREAM:
Your body will intrepret this as a form of stress. The hypothalmus will take the negative & emotional mental input and send signals that slow down the digestive organs. You'll be eating the food, but not fully metabolizing it. It could stay in your digestive tract which could diminish your healthy gut bacteria, increase the release of toxic byproducts into the blood stream and decrease your calorie burning efficiency via increased insulin and cortisol, which would cause you to store your guilt-infused ice cream as body fat. No bueno.
"The thoughts you think about food instantly become realty in your body via the central nervous system."
— Institute for Eating Psychology
Let's take the placebo effect as an example:
Say a person is given a fake substance but told it's a life saving medication. The patient's belief in the healing power of the medicine creates a measurable physical response.
DID YOU KNOW:
The placebo effect is responsible for 35-45% of the effectiveness of prescription medications and upwards of 90% of the effectiveness of over the counter drugs?
The POWER OF THE MIND is so strong that you can think yourself into healing from disease.
What do you think happens when you think negatively about what you put in your mouth or judge yourself for eating a certain food? The OPPOSITE of healing, that's for sure.
This placebo effect I just talked about is built into the nutritional process and comes into play EVERY TIME we eat.
Science supports it. Again, what you think and feel about the food you eat powerfully affects how your body will process it.
This is why it is so important to start healing your relationship with your body and food. You can't start to feel at ease about eating or settle into your ideal weight while at war with yourself.
So next time you experience strong and convincing thoughts about a meal, try to relax.
If you feel anxiety towards a food decision (this was me for years every time I ate), slowly count to 10 and breathe deeply.
Reset your mind to a neutral (or better yet, positive) state and start to proceed with mindful eating practices.
Think happy thoughts ya'll ;)
Need help handling emotional or disordered eating? Let's chat.