Dr. Hauke was recently interviewed by Reader’s Digest on what brain science can tell us about how to lose weight more effectively.
Farrah Hauke, Psy.D., a psychologist in Scottsdale, Arizona who specializes in weight management and weight loss, agrees and adds that we are more likely to binge when we are overly restricting what we eat. Plus, when we eat foods higher in fat or sugar, our brains release “feel-good” chemicals that make these experience rewarding, Dr. Hauke says. Specifically, when we eat “junk food,” dopamine neurons are activated. “We don’t see this same brain stimulation with ‘diet foods’ such as broccoli and grilled chicken breast,” Dr. Hauke says. Here are the signs you’re on a bad diet.
The lack of dopamine sparked by traditionally strict diets means we are also less likely to find dieting reinforcing. Thus, Dr. Hauke says we need to find ways to reward ourselves, feel satisfied, and avoid “cognitive distortions”—negative thinking patterns that contribute to the common all-or-nothing diet approach.
Dirhan, Dr. Hauke, Dr. McKeown, and Dr. Prolongo all agree that rigid rules, unrealistic expectations about eating, and fad diets aren’t the best strategies for your body and brain. Instead, focus on the quality of your diet, listening to your body’s hunger cues, and adding in physical activity.
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