April 29, 2013
Motivation and the Brain
Healthy eating is a topic discussed almost daily in every social setting. People are always trying to look and feel healthy. The motivation to eat healthy comes from intrinsic and extrinsic influences. It also affects different brain structures and functions.
Healthy eating and exercising holds many benefits. It will make you feel better, build a stronger immune system, keep you mentally alert, and help you maintain a healthy weight. There are many people who have experienced these benefits and eat healthy to maintain optimal health.
Motivation to eat healthy can come from the motivation to lose weight. Anybody that is looking lose a significant amount of weight knows that healthy eating is a major factor in the process. There are certain diseases where healthy eating is a must to stay alive and breathing. Diabetes, heart disease, Crohn’s disease, cancer, and arthritis are a few diseases that people must follow a healthy diet.
If a person has diabetes the person must eat good food to regulate glucose in the bloodstream. The insulin level in the body must be kept at a normal level. If glucose get to high or low there can be serious consequences. Some may go into a diabetic coma or could die. People with Crohn’s disease have to follow a strict low fat non dairy diet to help with digestion of food. Those who have cancer must eat healthy to be able to withstand the harsh side effects that chemo has on their bodies. It also helps with recovery after the medication is stopped. Arthritis is helped with diet and exercise. It is good to keep the diet high in protein and vitamin D to help keep joints healthy. What you put into your mouth will affect your body.
Family can motivate a person to eat healthy. Some are raised to eat healthy. They were taught at an early age how to put good nutritional foods into their bodies. When they become adults they continue the behavior. They eat healthy because they want to and because it’s all they know. The body will sometimes reject the unhealthy foods by causing diarrhea, stomach cramps, or nausea. If you feed a baby only the pea flavored baby food the baby will eat it without a problem. It when sweets are introduced that the child no longer wants the peas. So if you teach a child to eat healthy when they get older that is what they will continue to do.
A person’s environment can influence or hinder motivation to eat healthy. If a person has a family that eats unhealthy, it is likely that he/she will also. It’s hard to eat healthy when everyone around you eats unhealthy. The fact that many people do not make home cooked meals also factors into unhealthy eating. This is because people are busy working, taking kids to soccer practice and going to school. This is the life that some children live and know. Thus they imitate the way their elders eat. “Children acquire their culture’s food preferences, especially the spices, even if they do not like every food their parents enjoy” (Kalat,2010 pg 301).
People are simply too busy to eat healthy and want a quick meal that will take up the least time. Most fast foods are high in fat and low in the vitamins and nutrients our bodies need to operate. When we are not eating healthy it affects out brain function. After oral intake food enters the blood stream as glucose. Glucose is almost the only fuel that the brain uses. When glucose levels are high it affects the entire body including the brain.
Sometimes the people that are around a person the most can motivate healthy eating. If three individuals live in the same household and two are healthy eaters, then the third may become a healthy eater as well. It could be peer pressure or a mentality change on the unhealthy eater. This scenario works best when the primary person who prepares the food is the healthy eater.
There are many factors the brain uses to determine hunger. “Hunger