Have you ever eaten a meal, felt totally stuffed, and then become hungry again just a few hours later? The problem isn’t your stomach; it’s your brain. According to a recent weight loss study, a diet that is high in saturated fat and refined sugar can change the chemistry of your brain. As Dr. Gullo has been telling his patients for years, the psychology of weight loss is just as important as the physical changes. The weight loss study was conducted by Terry Davidson, the director of American University’s Center for Behavioral Neuroscience. He found that the changes that this type of diet causes in the brain leads to an overconsumption of yet more saturated fat and refined sugar. Furthermore, the thought suppression that occurs in the brain’s hippocampus is negatively impacted, which means that a dieter’s thoughts can drift more toward unhealthy foods. This is why relying on willpower and portion control for weight loss simply doesn’t work.
Davidson’s study split rats into two test groups. One group was fed a low-fat diet and the other a high-fat, calorie-dense diet. After a period of time, the rats were given free rein to chow down on as much food as they wished. The rats in the high-fat diet that became obese performed poorly on tests designed to measure learning and memory, functions of the hippocampus. The blood-brain barriers of the obese rats also became impaired. What this means for you is that selecting a high-fat, calorie-dense diet can change your hippocampus. Davidson pointed out that this could be why formerly obese people have trouble keeping the weight off; the changes in the brain might be permanent. So instead of trying trendy weight loss fads and crash diets, take small steps toward permanent lifestyle changes. Remember that thin begins in the supermarket. Instead of relying on willpower or portion control, plan out meals in advance and stick to a shopping list with healthy stuff listed on it. For example, instead of buying white bread, find a low-calorie, whole grain brand without high fructose corn syrup. Instead of buying processed, sugary cereals for breakfast, try a bowl of rolled oats with your favorite fruits. And instead of a bowl of ice cream at night, try a cup of low-fat, low-sugar yogurt.