Eating Less Sweets

Dan DeFigioBehavior and Mindfulness

eating less sweets

We’re hard-wired to like sweets and fats. Eating less sweets goes against our survival urges! Our caveman brains are drawn towards foods that are high in calories, and those that give us pleasurable sensations – primarily taste, dopamine reward, and “mouth feel”.

Our brain loses its ability to regulate itself when we eat these foods. They override our brain’s normal ability to regulate appetite. Hyper-pleasurable foods hijack our brains.

Eating Less Sweets

Keeping your brain in its “normal lane” is the challenge. Eat a bowl of vegetables and you’ll feel satiated after a few minutes. Normal brain function.

Eat a bowl of cookies and you can keep eating them and eating them and eating them and eating them and eating them and eating them and eating them and eating them and eating them and eating them and eating them (get the point?) – no matter how many you already ate. Hijacked brain. We lose our ability to feel full when we eat foods that trigger the “keep eating” part of our brains.

I’m here to give you some tools to help your brain stay in its lane!

Eating Less Sweets, Lesson #1:

Prep your brain with smart food first.

This time of year involves parties, events, and feasts where you’ll have access to pounds and pounds of extra food – much of it of the brain-hijacking kind.

Don’t arrive at an event like this and start diving into whatever looks appetizing! Prep your brain with some healthy food first. Nibble on some vegetables and protein, and drink a big glass of water. Later on you can decide if you want to add a few treats on top of that.

Prepping your brain will keep you from mindlessly diving into whatever strikes your hijacked brain’s fancy with no end in sight.

Eating Less Sweets, Lesson #2:

Don’t ask your hijacked brain to do portion control for you.

When you do decide to indulge in some junk food, use your rational brain to set out a sensible portion. If you stand next to the candy dish while you chat with people, you’ll probably wolf down 1000 calories of chocolate and not even notice. If you want chocolate, select a piece or two and then move away from the “source” dish or box. A hijacked brain won’t tell you to stop, you have to use your rational brain before you start eating.

Eating Less Sweets, Lesson #3:

The hijacked brain will behave according to assumptions. Faulty assumptions.

Assumptions like:

  • If food is in front of me, I have to eat it.
  • If someone gives me something, I have to eat it.
  • If there’s more food on my plate, I have to finish it.
  • If I see something that looks tasty, I have to try it.
  • If I take a bite of something, I have to eat the rest of it.

Do your best to notice situations like this. When you do, take a moment to ask your rational brain if you really want or need to keep eating (or start eating).

Ask yourself questions like

“How will I feel after I eat this?”

“Am I hungry, or am I pretending that I should eat just because food is in front of me?”

“How much of that treat is a sensible amount?”

Two bites of anything is usually plenty to get the enjoyable experience. After that, you’re probably acting on hijacked assumptions. Don’t do that to yourself (or to your waistline), you both deserve better!


beating sugar addictionIf you need help eating less sweets, or getting a sensible nutrition plan in place, jump into Dan DeFigio’s GOLD coaching group!