“Don’t be a dry shite, have a bit of cake.” In my previous workplace, it seemed every week there was a birthday or celebration and celebrations demanded cake!
I turned the cake down because I always felt like crap afterwards. A 10 minute boost for a 3 hour low didn’t seem like a good deal to me so I was the ‘dry shite’ who didn’t eat cake.
Of course, I wasn’t always that dry shite.
There was a time when I’d Polish off cakes, ice cream, Pringle tins and whatever else was going. For the longest time, it was great, or at least I thought it was while I was doing it!
Eating those things made me happy, at least for a bit but I didn’t really know or care as to the reason why. I also paid no heed to my ‘off days’ assumed they were just normal.
The Reward Centre & Food
The human brain has a fairly simple reward centre. Do the things that it likes and get ready for a hit of feel good chemicals such as Dopamine or Serotonin.
Having a piece of cake = feeling good
Having a biscuit = feeling good
Having a cigarette = motivation to keep going
So it’s easy to say that cake makes us happy but in reality what it often does is make us feel less crap…for a moment. We unknowingly use our reward system to turn that frown upside down. The question is, what’s the harm?
The harm is, when we abuse our reward system we need a bigger hit ‘to get off’. That means more cake, more caffeine, more cigarettes etc and we all know this road leads to nothing good.
In the case of eating more sweet things ‘to feel good’, inevitably, an expanding waistline joins the party. In practise, I see a very common picture that often joins that expanded waistline. Its blood pressure creeping upwards, blood sugar going upwards, concentration, sleep and energy all affected.
Not Sick but Not Well either.
Reward & Misery – Are you stuck in the cycle?
So inevitably, that sweet thing that lights up our reward centre on the one hand can be affecting our health on the other.
Denying Access to our own stored energy making us over tired and looking for – more pick me ups.
Reducing the quality of our Sleep through erratic swings in our blood sugar – more pick me ups
Affecting our Concentration – so learning a new task requires yet again – more pick me ups.
Blame your Ancestors
Look, its not your fault. Our reward centre has evolved through millions of years of evolution. An evolution where we worked our ass off to get food. Finding a food source that was sweet and calorific, set our reward centre on fire. That food source meant we survived and our brain needed to be told in no uncertain terms ‘do that again!’
In those times, there was no tasty and tempting food at Supermacs so our primal brain with its ancient circuitry was fit for purpose.
An ancient reward system in a modern world
Times have changed but our reward centre hasn’t. It rewards us for eating fast food and glugging Coca Cola because surviving to procreate was always our main goal and a bag of romaine lettuce just doesn’t cut it.
So I’m not trying to take away peoples pleasures, I just want to show you that maybe you aren’t enjoying your cake but enjoying the hit of dopamine or serotonin that often ensues. The good news is, there are other ways of achieving the same results but to truly appreciate it, requires the ultimate sacrifice!
A Vacation From The Reward System
Underneath all the caffeine and biscuits and alcohol, who are you?
Its easy to imagine a life of abject misery taking away your daily treats but what if underneath it all was freedom.
Freedom from the reward system, rewiring the brains circuitry to truly appreciate the other stuff life has to offer. A reminder of how deep you can really sleep, how good your energy can be and how clear headed.
A one month vacation from your vices plus a diet lower in Carbohydrate could be transformational to your health and wellbeing. Although the Ketogenic diet is all the rage these days, lowering your Carbohydrate to 5% of your calorie intake may not be necessary and comes with its own complicated regimen of Electrolytes and strict monitoring of Carbohydrate Intake.
Yet there is an easier way, one where you can monitor the true individual effect of Carbohydrate on your own body. That requires the purchase of fairly cheap blood sugar meter to show you whats going on inside every time you eat something. Its a good idea to work with someone as standard ranges and testing times are only partially helpful.
Blood sugar control is one of the major keys to feeling well. Chase control not cookies!