Mindset Resources

Eating Behaviors and the Brain Part 12

So we’ve discussed the reward system, and it’s important to understand that, along with palatability or really good taste, some foods and substances will just give us a bit of a rush. We’ll go out of our way to get those foods.

What’s interesting is many foods and substances that can give us that rush don’t taste good the first time we encounter them. Here’s a couple of examples: black coffee and beer. Most people do not like those the first time they try them. Most people don’t like their first inhale of a cigarette. But coffee has caffeine. Beer has alcohol. Cigarettes have nicotine.

Our brains like caffeine, and alcohol, and nicotine. So even though we didn’t like them when we first tasted them, we learned quickly that they’re “good” things, and we learned to tolerate their taste so we could have more of them. We actually override our aversion to the taste and the experience because we want more of the substance they contain.

What’s interesting is many foods and substances that can give us that rush don’t taste good the first time we encounter them.

Over time, we even believe we cannot live without them. We will go through extensive efforts to get them. We’ll wait in lines, spend our hard earned money, and expose ourselves to unhealthy environments just to get more of them. We’ll even consume more of them than we possibly thought we could even when we’ve had enough. That’s true for drinking, tobacco, and for food.

I’ll tell you, I like caffeine. I enjoy it, but I limit my portions, and I don’t always have it. Caffeine can be healthy for many people, but it does trigger the reward system. Coffees and teas have polyphenols, which are really good nutrients. Again, everything in moderation. But you have to pay attention to the reward system.

Fatty french fries and coffee and meaty sandwich

Know What You’re Up Against

The goal is to feel good and be healthy, not to be controlled by a substance. So essentially, when you combine something that tastes really good and creates high reward value, you’re not going to be able to control yourself. That’s what we’re dealing with when it comes to the foods we eat. They’ve been engineered to taste really good and trigger your reward system. And they contain minimal fiber, meaning you can eat a lot of them before you ever know how much you’ve eaten.

I’m going to list one more time the types of foods that are causing this problem, so you can make sure you keep this in your mind. Be wary of foods:

  • High in calories
  • Loaded with fat, sugar, and salt
  • Containing high levels of glutamate or “meaty” flavors (hence bacon being in everything)
  • Made of refined starches that break into sugars very quickly
  • Consisting of a pleasing and specific texture, such as creamy or crunchy
  • Containing drugs, such as caffeine, alcohol, or theobromine, which is found in chocolate
  • Packed with flavor enhancers, or additives, to improve the feel of these foods in your mouth

You do not find this magical mix in nature. It is found in highly processed foods like:

  • Cakes
  • Cookies
  • Pastries
  • Pies
  • Pizza
  • Chicken fingers
  • Ice cream
  • Fried foods
  • Fast foods

And so on.

The goal is to feel good and be healthy, not to be controlled by a substance. So essentially, when you combine something that tastes really good and creates high reward value, you’re not going to be able to control yourself.

The more of those elements we encounter, the more we cannot control our eating behavior, and the more our body will change its internal regulation and allow us to become overweight and obese and sick. We will spend our money and our time finding these things, and consume them to our own detriment as well as our children’s detriment.

Healthy salad with mixed vegetables

The Doctor’s Conclusion

It’s important to understand that we’re all dealing with this problem now. If you love these foods and feel like you cannot stop eating them, you’re not alone. You’re not bad or weird. You’re just like all of us. All that’s happening is your brain is doing what it was adapted to do. Ultimately, it thinks it’s keeping you alive.

But now, the system has gone awry and it’s time for your higher mind to kick in. It’s time for the real you to step in and take control of the situation. It’s time for you to make the decisions consistent with the life you want to have. You can do that. Today, you can start by eliminating just one of these foods, and replacing it with a real fresh, whole, natural food.

It will work. You will feel better. You will get control of the situation.


For more information about Eating Behaviors and the Brain, read the entire series! Please keep up with us on Facebook and Instagram.

Physical Activity and Movement Part 3

Once you understand the benefits of a daily movement habit, it will be hard to resist engaging in the process to create this new routine. The benefits are innumerable. In my book, Authentic Health, I talk about the fact that if I could bottle all of the benefits of physical activity and place it in a capsule, and then sell it as a prescription, that everybody would want it. I talk about how people would be willing to pay the price, no matter how much. Then I remind them that the great news is there is no price. It’s free for you. All you have to do is take advantage of it.

Once you understand the benefits of a daily movement habit, it will be hard to resist engaging in the process to create this new routine.

How Does Movement Help Me?

Because our bodies are designed for physical activity, we experience a lot of positive benefits when we use our bodies properly. Creating a habit of movement provides results like these:

  • Lowering blood pressure;
  • Lowering resting heart rate;
  • Reducing insulin resistance;
  • Improving blood sugar control for people with diabetes;
  • Providing a metabolic signal that can assist with maintaining a healthy weight or losing weight;
  • Reducing your risk of atherosclerosis and having future cardiovascular events such as heart attack or stroke;
  • Boosting the health of your metabolic systems, your cardiovascular system, and your mind;
  • Increasing blood flow to the brain;
  • Enhancing a sense of wellbeing, including positive emotions like joy, peace, and gratitude;
  • Activating neuroplasticity, the ability to create new pathways in your mind to enhance your experience of this world and create new habits;
  • Alleviating emotional stress responses by reducing fear, anxiety, worry, irritability, and other negative emotions;
  • Improving your ability to get to sleep and sleep deeply through the night;
  • Refining the conditioning of your muscles, the ability of your body to use energy properly when needed, the health of your connective tissues, and the density of your bones;
  • Reducing your risk of injuries and falls;
  • Helping your balance by improving proprioception and how your body sends input to your brain to understand where you are in space; and,
  • Enhancing cognitive functions, allowing you to think better.

Bicyclists and runner outside exercising together

You get the idea. There’s an incredible amount of benefits to physical activity, and it’s for a clear reason: our bodies were designed for it. Not getting physical activity is similar to not sleeping, breathing, hydrating, or eating. Now, it’s not quite the same, because obviously without breathing you’ll die very quickly, and without drinking water, you’ll die pretty quickly as well. But nonetheless, the absence of physical activity will slowly deteriorate your body and lead to earlier death.

Sounds Good, Right?

I imagine that everything that I’m describing is something you want. You may already be engaged in a very healthy foundation for physical activity. If so, that’s great. Keep doing it, and let this reinforce it. But if you’ve struggled with being regularly physically active, if you’ve had ideas about it that it’s painful, and hard, and tiring, we’re going to correct that. It’s going to give you energy and reduce your pain. You’re going to feel better. And you’re not going to have to make yourself hurt to do it.

Yes, it requires some action, some initiative, and occasionally feeling a little uncomfortable. But I promise you it will not be hard.

There’s an incredible amount of benefits to physical activity, and it’s for a clear reason: our bodies were designed for it.

How to Begin …Today!

Think about starting today. Today, use your body a little bit more. Pay attention to your body and how it’s feeling. Move your shoulders, your neck, your hips. Feel your toes and fingers. Pay attention to your body, your posture, your breathing. Take an opportunity to walk for a few minutes, or just stand a little more. Take the opportunity to squat, kneel, lunge, hang, push, pull, or walk up the stairs. Whatever it is you’re capable of doing.

Man standing on stairs smiling wearing vegan tshirt

Rather than looking at two trips up the steps as tiring and something to be avoided, look at it as your trip to the gym. This will work for you. Embrace this paradigm of physical activity. You’ll not regret it.

In the post ahead, we’ll begin to outline the holistic approach to a movement habit that provides good health.


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Eating Behaviors and the Brain Part 11

Let’s talk briefly about the reward system and food. The reward system in our brain is meant to promote our survival. It works off of a neurotransmitter called dopamine. This neurotransmitter is associated with motivation and desire. In addition, when the reward system triggers, we get a bit of adrenaline, which creates a small rush, a feeling of stress, perhaps positive stress.

Once we are able to access whatever the reward system is motivating us to pursue, we get pleasure from something known as endorphins or endogenous opiate peptides. We actually feel that sensation of pleasure for just a moment.

But our reward systems have been manipulated. We now pursue behaviors and substances that actually work against our survival.

This is meant to call our attention to whatever we just encountered, because generally speaking, it was something that would promote survival. If we encountered it again, we would pursue it. But our reward systems have been manipulated. We now pursue behaviors and substances that actually work against our survival.

How Do We Take Charge?

The marketplace sells us addictions and sickness. However, the same marketplace sells us the opportunity to be healthy and well. Ultimately, we have to take charge of our minds. As long as your reward system is running the show, you’ll have no choice. You’ll do what it tells you to. Again, this is true for me, and it’s true for everyone. Our reward systems respond to different cues, so it’s different for all of us, but if you’re struggling with your eating behavior, then this is what you’re dealing with.

You really don’t have control over your reward system. It has control over you. But you do have control over your higher mind, and you have the ability to foster the desires to be your best self. As you do that, you begin to have some control over your choices, and you can choose to eliminate the foods, substances, and behaviors from your life that actually make you sick, and do not take you where you want to go. You do have this ability, but it takes desire, willpower, support, and accountability. You have to want this for yourself.

Person slicing zucchini on cutting board

The Doctor’s Conclusion

In our series on willpower, we outline a process to deal with urges and cravings. It involves cultivation of mindfulness and your higher mind. We explain this in more detail in that series. I’ve also written a paper that is available on our website, healthshepherds.com, that outlines a 4-step process using mindfulness to overcome urges and craving. I would encourage you to read that paper.

You really don’t have control over your reward system. It has control over you. But you do have control over your higher mind, and you have the ability to foster the desires to be your best self.

Our reward systems are important. They give us pleasure, and they reinforce behaviors that can be good for us. But when they’ve been manipulated by those who want our money and don’t care about our health, then the system is no longer working for us. You have to be aware of this. You have to set yourself free.

I’ll give an example of how strong the reward system is in our next post.


If you’re interested in personalized healthcare, you’re exactly where you’re meant to be. Please enjoy the free resources available to you. For those deeply curious about their most authentic health, I also recommend my book, Authentic Health

Eating Behaviors and the Brain Part 9

We have made it very clear that your conscious control of eating actually has far less power over your eating behavior than you perhaps previously thought. We’ve talked about the underlying physiological influencers of hunger and what these mean for our eating choices. When we find ourselves drawn to foods we know are bad for us, but can’t stop eating, we recognize that we are dealing with addiction-like cravings that are hard to control. We have to wake up to this reality. Our strong attachments to these foods are not due to our true desires.

This post is very important. This is one to absolutely remember.

Thus far, we discussed how:

  1. Your body is designed to signal satiation and satiety;
  2. Leptin can signal to your brain that you have adequate fat storage, i.e. stored energy, and;
  3. This whole process can be disrupted.

Here’s the major point: it’s certain types of foods that actually disrupt the normal regulation of eating behavior.

Yes, we eat too much, and yes, we eat too frequently. But that is not the primary problem. The primary problem is in the foods we choose to eat, and what they do to our brain and body.

When we find ourselves drawn to foods we know are bad for us, but can’t seem to stop eating, we have recognized that we are dealing with addiction-like cravings that are hard to control.

Remember this: foods that are hyper-palatable—meaning they taste unnaturally good—and hyper-rewarding—meaning they activate our reward system in an unnatural fashion—are heavy in calories while containing minimal nutrients and fiber. These foods will override your normal stop signals.

Hands reaching for burgers and frieds

These foods are the processed foods, junk foods, fast foods, and foods we think we all prefer. But we don’t actually prefer them.

Why Do I Eat What I Know to be Unhealthy?

You see, early in our lives, we were exposed to them when our brains were developing. It’s no different than if our brains were exposed to nicotine or alcohol or any other addictive substance. Foods that contain these characteristics will trigger your reward system in such a way that it will override any control of eating you thought you had, as well as your body’s natural regulatory functions.

These foods are unnatural. We are not adapted to them. Our bodies adapted to foods that were high in fiber and nutrients, were lower in calories, and were moderate in palatability. High palatability means something tastes really good. Moderate palatability means it still tastes good, just not in an unnatural way. The food industry figured this out years ago, and they began to concentrate certain flavors in food that will trigger your reward system in such a way that you cannot stop eating them.

Now, not everybody is susceptible to these flavors. Our genetic susceptibility to addiction does vary from individual to individual. However, we know for a fact that foods that contain high quantities of fat, salt, sugar, and glutamate, which is a substitute for proteinaceous flavors, trigger the reward system powerfully.

Our genetic susceptibility to addiction does vary from individual to individual.

There’s a reason for this. Human beings used to deal with food scarcity. Fat was an abundant source of energy. Sugar signified honey and fruit, which was also a good source of energy and nutrients. Salt indicated minerals which are vital for survival. Glutamate flavors indicated protein, which we need. Essentially, we are programmed to binge eat when we encounter these flavors.

Let’s get that clear: we are programmed to binge eat when we encounter these flavors.

Where is My Willpower?

No natural foods contain all of these flavors in a super-concentrated form. Super-concentrated, meaning we have unnaturally concentrated these flavors. Our reward systems cannot manage that input. We are adapted to binge eat those foods. So when you encounter one of those foods, you will inhibit your willpower, literally turn it off. Not only that, but you’ll also override normal satiation function, meaning you can eat far beyond what you normally would.

You don’t have willpower when you encounter these foods because you actually don’t have willpower. The switch was turned off. I’m going to repeat this one more time:

Unnatural foods are concentrated in flavor elements that trigger your reward system in such a way that you cannot control your own eating behavior.

That’s true for me. It’s true for you. You were exposed to them, as I was, before you were at an age where you would even know what your preferences were. Your brain became habituated to these flavors long before you were making conscious choices about what foods you truly like. These have never been your preferences. You were conditioned to crave them, and it benefited the food industry that sells us a lot of these foods.

Doctor’s Conclusion

Ultimately, we have to tell the truth about these foods for ourselves, our children, and our communities, and we have to create a new future. The good news is that we can.

Throughout this series, we remind you that there is a way out. There is a path of freedom, a path that will empower you to gain control of your eating behaviors and choose the foods that give you health. For now, just remember that as long as we’re exposed to the foods that are concentrated in the reward system flavors—foods that lack fiber and nutrients, and are high in calories—we will overeat, and we will struggle with our health, regardless of our weight.


Are you searching for a more integrated approach to healthcare? That’s what Health Shepherds delivers. If you have questions about a more personalized path to your wellbeing, contact us. You also can like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram.

Eating Behaviors and the Brain Part 8

Your brain regulates your energy balance and your body weight over a span of time. How this is done is complex, but a major influencer of weight and energy balance is an area of your brain called the lipostat, located in the hypothalamus. This is a non-conscious regulator of body weight and energy balance. That means you do not consciously control how this part of your brain regulates your weight. You cannot just change the setting and get a response the way you do with your thermostat in your home.

Lipostat, Hormones, and Regulation

The job of this area is to make sure you maintain a stable energy balance, and stable weight, over time regardless of external circumstances. This area of the brain will allow you to use stored energy when necessary, and allow you to regain stored energy when circumstances allow this to occur. Generally speaking, your genetics determine this set point for your weight. But it can be changed over time.

When your metabolic rate is lowered in response to cues from your brain, you’ll tend to feel tired, grumpy, brain-foggy, and have a whole host of other symptoms.

One of the influencers is the hormone leptin, which we discussed earlier. Leptin is released by your fat cells, and its job is to tell the brain how much energy we’ve just consumed, and how much excess energy we have stored up as fat. The more body fat we have, the more leptin will be in our blood.

The brain makes decisions based on leptin levels about:

  • Your hunger
  • Daily calorie intake
  • How much nutrients to absorb
  • How much energy to use and store

Then, it cycles back to regulate leptin production in a loop that will help keep your energy and body weight balanced over time. Your brain can increase energy expenditure by making you fidget and sweat. It can also decrease energy expenditure by lowering your metabolic rate. I talk about this in my book, Authentic Health.

When your metabolic rate is lowered in response to cues from your brain, you’ll tend to feel tired, grumpy, brain-foggy, and have a whole host of other symptoms. You think you have low thyroid, and in a way, you do. Your brain has downregulated thyroid function because it’s downregulating your metabolism to save energy. This is a situation we want to avoid. This is why we don’t recommend daily reduced calorie diets over a longer period of time.

Healthy salad with olive oil

Remember, when I say reduced calorie diet, I’m talking about for those who are eating appropriate calories. If you are consuming excess calories daily, you will need to reduce calorie intake to lose weight. I’m talking about eating in accordance with your energy demands. Long-term low-calorie diets will fail. Your body does not like this. It will regulate against it.

But right eating will restore healthy body weight over time in a natural way.

So if your stored energy, or fat, and leptin remain stable over time, then you’re going to be more easily satisfied during and between meals. You’ll be less hungry. You’ll naturally eat the proper amounts of food, and not eat again until an appropriate time interval. Also, your metabolic rate will stay high, and you’ll have good energy.

If stored energy and leptin drop over time, it’ll send a message to the area of the brain we discussed earlier that the body needs to start preventing starvation. The brain will use several strategies to do this.

It will make you hungry.

Like, really hungry.

Like you can’t control this level of hunger.

Willpower has nothing to do with it. It’s hormonal hunger.

Also, you’ll move around less. You’ll find yourself wanting to just sit around. You’ll think you’re lazy, but you’re not. In addition, your metabolic rate will slow down, as I just discussed.

Person balancing on rock in sunset

So you would think that if your stored energy, or fat, and leptin went up over time, you’d want to eat less. Well, that’s supposed to be true, but it doesn’t seem to always work that way. How much your leptin goes up when you eat will vary from person to person. How your brain responds to leptin also varies from person to person. Our physiologies vary a lot, as do our genetics. In some people, when the leptin rises, their brain will decrease their appetite, and it will increase their energy output. In others, it doesn’t seem to work the same way.

But for most people, most of the time, the leptin feedback loop works well to naturally regulate our energy expenditure and our consumption. Unless we disrupt it.

Doctor’s Conclusion

We’re going to discuss how we disrupt it in the next post. The point of this post was to give you a basic lesson in how your body is regulating its fat storage, and to let you know it’s not directly under your conscious control. Ultimately, your consistent habits over time will influence it, but today, you don’t get to choose. However, the choices you make today will make a difference a week from now, or a month from now. That’s good news.

As I emphasized, you do get to choose to choose. But you have to be willing to wake up and truly choose. Otherwise, your brain is going to continue to run the show, and as you’ll see in our next post, you will continue to struggle because the specific foods you choose to eat can actually change how the brain controls your eating behavior.


Health Shepherds is on a mission to deliver personalized and compassionate healthcare. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Want to ask us a question? We’d love to hear from you. Feel free to contact us.

Transforming Your Habits to Transform Your Health Part 22

We’ve covered a lot of ground, including mindset, desire, habits, basic brain science, cravings, willpower, and pleasure versus well-being. If you’ve stuck with this, and thought through all of these posts, and have begun to apply the teachings, you’ll have made considerable progress in controlling your own mind and directing your thoughts.

It doesn’t happen overnight. You have to continue to practice this. This has to become your daily habit. You have to start your day with it and finish your day with it. It’s totally doable. I’ve experienced this myself, and I’ve watched others experience it.

Once you have this, health won’t be an issue, because you’ll be strongly attached to your good health and your energy. You won’t give it away again.

Once you have this, health won’t be an issue, because you’ll be strongly attached to your good health and your energy. You won’t give it away again. You’ll see through the charades that our modern marketplace has developed to keep us stuck in the matrix of their products and services and false comforts, and not experiencing our best health in real life. You’ll begin to see it for what it is and have the power to choose according to your desires.

You can live your best life with your best health, regardless of the context you find yourself in.

On this journey, it’s very important to continue all the tools you’ve learned, such as:

All of these are very important. All of these will result in you arriving at a healthier state of being.

Young man with hat looking up at sky

Doctor’s Conclusion

I hope this series of posts has been helpful. If it has, consider watching our upcoming video series on this topic. It will go into far more depth and give many illustrations and case studies. Also consider visiting us at healthshepherds.com, on Instagram, and on our Facebook page. Join our healthy and vibrant community. Come on board with the cause of your personal, and our collective, best health. It’s so important.

Finally, do this: Remember, knowledge is not power. Only applied knowledge is power. This will not become powerful for you unless you actually begin to apply it. You must do this in the end, and if you do, the reward is well worth it.

Thank you for your consideration of these teachings. May you experience your best health.


If you’re interested in personalized healthcare, you’re exactly where you’re meant to be. Please enjoy the free resources available to you. For those deeply curious about their most authentic health, I also recommend my book, Authentic Health

Eating Behaviors and the Brain Part 7

Your non-conscious brain influences your eating behaviors over sustained periods of time. What really makes a difference to your weight and your overall health is what you do on a consistent basis—what, and how much, you typically eat day after day. Brief variations in this pattern do not make much of a difference. Your body can quickly adjust to a short period of not receiving enough calories or a short period of receiving too many calories. Generally speaking, it’ll maintain stable health and weight for variations such as these. It’s the consistency over time that matters.

That’s why I often have people apply the 80/20 rule, meaning that if they can adopt the behaviors I’m suggesting 80% of the time, they’ll get most of the results they need. However, for some individuals, their current health situation dictates that they need to apply them more like 90% or even 100% of the time. When you become desperate, sometimes you have to take appropriate measures, so we’d prefer not to get to the point of desperation. Generally, the 80/20 rule will work.

Don’t underestimate how empowering this freedom is, to be completely free to eat in a way that supports your best health and your best life.

What Happens When You Transform Your Eating?

When people correct their eating behaviors and begin to eat the foods that give them health, energy, and appetite control, they eventually will only eat these foods. The reason for this is obvious. As they transform their eating, they begin to feel so good that they don’t want to go back. When they finally have a “cheat day,” and eat all the foods that they used to love, it actually can cause:

They begin to recognize that their cheat days just made them sick, so ultimately they end up choosing nutritious foods all the time.

That will happen to you, too, if you stick with this series. You will get to a place of complete freedom in your eating behavior where you always choose foods that nourish you and help you to feel good. The great news is these foods also taste good. You’ll still enjoy really good food, and you won’t have to count calories. Don’t underestimate how empowering this freedom is, to be completely free to eat in a way that supports your best health and your best life.

Doctor’s Conclusion

So as you begin to understand how the brain regulates this, and you start to take control of your brain, the process will become self-reinforcing. You will no longer have to fight yourself. This will just become who you are. That’s good news because who you are will become a very healthy and energized human being.

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Transforming Your Habits to Transform Your Health Part 21

This is our last post on willpower in the series, “Transforming Your Habits to Transform Your Health.” We’ve focused heavily on this skill because it’s fundamental to you making the choices that support your best health.

I want you to understand the concept of self-forgiveness. Because, in this journey, we’re going to have setbacks. We’re going to have challenges that sometimes overwhelm us. There will be times when we want to give in to our old behavioral patterns. When we do, the faster we forgive ourselves, the faster we will exit that unhealthy behavior loop. Then we can restart the behaviors that we truly desire and that support our good health.

You cannot beat up on yourself or succumb to guilt and shame. These negative feelings and emotions will deplete your willpower, make you more restless, and increase the desire to do whatever makes you feel good in the moment. Instead, you forgive yourself, accept that this is just part of the challenge, and then you move forward with a new determination.

Happy healthy couple average size embracing on a walk

It’s very important to practice self-forgiveness. Forgiveness of yourself and others. This is one of the most important characteristics that we can cultivate. When we begin to forgive everyone else of everything that’s ever happened, and we forgive ourselves, we enter into a type of freedom that’s remarkable. It’s a wonderful experience.

Practicing gratitude and forgiveness is so powerful. I want you to apply this to yourself. Feel grateful and forgive yourself. Don’t judge yourself. It’s okay. You will continue this journey. You will continue to become the healthiest version of you.

We’ll see you in the next post.


Health Shepherds is on a mission to deliver personalized and compassionate healthcare. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Want to ask us a question? We’d love to hear from you. Feel free to contact us.

Eating Behaviors and the Brain Part 4

The bottom line is you eat what your brain tells you to eat. This means not what you, the deeper and greater you, actually wants for yourself. That you doesn’t decide what you eat. Your conditioned non-conscious brain tells you what to eat.

If you really wake up the deeper you and get serious about what you want, you can begin to change this. But for now, you’re eating as your non-conscious brain has trained you to eat. This started when you were an embryo and is based on genetics, hormones, and neurotransmitters that have developed as you matured.

Remember this: It’s not you, it’s your brain.

But guess what? You actually get to take charge of your brain. You can take over your brain and direct your thoughts, feelings, and emotions to be consistent with what you really want for yourself. We also emphasize this in our series on desire, willpower, and mindset. It’s very important that you have the right mindset and the right desire and that you’re very intentional about this.

Now more than ever, you must apply intentionality.

Intentionality and Eating

You or someone you know opens a bag of potato chips or cookies. Perhaps the chips are labeled something like “buffalo ranch maple bacon-flavored.” You think, “Disgusting. Who would ever want to eat something like that?” Then you taste one because your friend says, “You’ve just got to try this!”

And the next thing you know, the bag is empty. You ate the entire bag. You’re sitting there wondering, “How did I just do that? Why couldn’t I stop eating?”

Our rational, conscious brain thinks it’s in charge of our eating behavior, that we eat what we want and when we want, and that we can stop eating whenever we choose to. But we have so much less control than that.

This is true for so many different foods. I think everyone can relate to this example. I sure can. You need to understand that the non-conscious aspects of your brain took over.

Our rational, conscious brain thinks it’s in charge of our eating behavior, that we eat what we want and when we want, and that we can stop eating whenever we choose to. But we have so much less control than that.

Behind the decision-making processes of eating behavior are physiological forces in our brain and body that we’ve never even been aware of. Brain physiology involves hormones, neurotransmitters, and electricity. Your eating behavior is based on many different pathways in your brain that established when you were just developing. Your preferences were formed based on reward stimulation before you were at an age of choice.

Friends deciding what to eat.

If you choose to choose according to your desires, then you’re going to have to pay close attention to this blog series. The great news is, you will be able to choose to choose. You can get mastery over this. Leave behind all of the anxiety, shame, guilt, and powerlessness you have felt. You will be able to take charge.

Be patient with yourself and go one step at a time. Deepen your understanding. Practice visualizing your desires for your best health, and what that looks like. Experience this. I promise it’ll pay you back.  

Visit us at Health Shepherds, review our resources, and read our book Authentic Health. We look forward to you joining us on your journey to better living and authentic health.

Eating Behaviors and the Brain Part 3

I want to reiterate one more time our three fundamental eating behaviors that apply to all nutritional approaches. These three pillars are necessary for any eating paradigm. If you violate these pillars, you ultimately will find that you have very little control over eating behavior and often struggle with your weight or chronic diseases.

I also want to remind you that not everyone who is overweight is unhealthy. Many people who have a heavier body-mass are applying the proper fundamental habits of health in their life. They feel good, and their health metrics look good. These individuals are not unhealthy. This is not about weight. This is about health. Good health supports a healthy weight for you. This is an individual issue based on genetics and long-term hormonal changes based on long-term environmental exposures.

In addition, I want to remind you that many people who aren’t classified as overweight are metabolically sick. They’re eating the foods that make us all sick. They may even be overeating them. However, the way their body regulates their weight via genetics and hormones keeps them at a leaner weight. But their biometrics tell the truth: they have insulin resistance, fatty livers, elevated blood pressures, and chronic inflammation. They don’t feel good. They also need to apply these three pillars.

Three Pillars:

1. Eliminate Nutritional Stressors

Throughout this series, you’ll learn why fast foods, junk foods, processed foods, foods that have been super concentrated in sugar, fat, salt, and other flavors are all causing us health issues. These foods directly trigger inflammation and disease in your body. This has been well established.

These foods only provide high levels of calories but contain minimal nutrients. These foods lack fiber and trigger your reward system in such a powerful way that you cannot stop eating them. You have no willpower when you consume these foods. These foods are the food equivalent of cigarettes. There’s no case to be made that they should be part of our diet.

Man at table eating eggs

When we eat them, we become addicted to them, and we become sick. They make us feel bad. The pleasure we feel from them is false. We have to reject them the same way a smoker has to quit smoking if they want to become well.

You have to engage your higher mind and activate the one part of your brain that gives you some control over eating behavior. Your desire for energy and health has to be greater than the food preferences that you never chose.

I know some think I’m dogmatic about it, but it’s just the truth. If you want to be healthy, these foods have no place in your diet.

But I also want to emphasize you can take your time getting there. Change is hard, and it takes time. Change happens according to strong desire. Just know that I’m not judging you or anyone else. This is a challenging problem and we have to be aware of what these foods are doing to us.

2. Balance Feeding and Fasting

We have many posts that explain what I mean by balancing feeding and fasting, so I’ll not go into it right now. Our bodies are designed to enter the fed state, but they are also designed to spend time in fasting states. This is a very important principle.

3. Mindfulness of Eating

You have to engage your higher mind and activate the one part of your brain that gives you some control over eating behavior. Your desire for energy and health has to be greater than the food preferences that you never chose.

This is a very important piece of the puzzle because once you’re exposed to the foods that trigger your reward system, you will not be able to control your behavior. That’s true for everyone, including me.

Broccollini and cheese and lemon

So you have to apply a mindful approach to nutrition. That means understanding what food is for you, being mindful about the sourcing, taking your time to eat, chewing your food thoroughly—preferably 25 times if possible—and enjoying what food is supposed to do for you.

In conclusion, eliminate nutritional stressors, balance feeding and fasting, and be mindful about eating. It really is that simple.

There is an uncomplicated and understandable truth about eating and health. We want to make it easy for you. Join us at Health Shepherds.