It certainly isn’t new news that making poor lifestyle choices has negative consequences.
An unhealthy diet, smoking, being inactive and other such behaviours are estimated to cause around 40 per cent of premature deaths in the developed world and the messages about needing to eat better, sleep more, drink less and be more active are ones you will often hear.
But why is it, sometimes, so hard to resist temptation and make a healthier choice?
Often behaviours that are harmful to us give us a BIG dose of instant gratification. Smoking – the nicotine hit. Drinking – the almost instant relaxation effect. Chocolate doughnut – a brain shaking (albeit temporary) sugar high. Then there’s shopping, gambling and all the other things we humans can become easily addicted to. In short, your brain gets a buzz from these kinds of choices.
Eating a salad instead of a burger, or saying no to a wine/beer/coffee and opting for water often doesn’t give us the same immediate feel-good factor that the less healthy fixes do. These habits have long-term consequences that will feel good in time, but our brain likes to know it is on the right course immediately, so it prefers instant gratification! It wants to feel great NOW!
When our brain gets that buzz, there is a release of a hormone called dopamine which tells the brain to ‘remember this, it feels good’. Sadly, your brain isn’t getting the full picture of how harmful repeating some of these behaviours can be to our wellbeing. This ‘buzz’ feeling system was set up to help us remember where to find food in times of scarcity, but now functions on overdrive in our society full of temptation.
So, how can we use this system to our advantage rather than let it take over? We need to find ways to give our brain the buzz it likes so much when we make healthier choices.
How to make it happen!
How to stick to it:
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