Well, here we are at the close of another week. I think because we have a holiday weekend coming up the week dragged on for me. But alas, here we are looking it in the eyes. Healthy Hubby and I are heading off for a little getaway to a sunny spot. It should be fun. Even if it’s not hot, at least it will be warmer than the 43 degree rain we’ve been having.
Friday Fun Fact:
So today is Friday and that means a Fun Fact is in order. I was debating whether to share with you the benefits of eating lots of leafy greens (there’s a new one) or would it be the effects of dopamine when it comes to changing one’s diet style. Hmmmm. Eeny, meeny, miny, moe. Let’s see if I can get the message out clearly about dopamine.
Have you ever binged? There’s the bag of chocolate chips hiding in the pantry to be used for that “some day” batch of cookies. Then there’s always that time when you’ve been cruising along on your healthy diet, being really good week after week and then it’s someone’s birthday at work and there’s a cake. Two pieces? Sure, why not. Or maybe it’s not sweets. Two slices of toast with jam leads to a handful of almonds which leads to a big bowl of popcorn which leads to more toast, this time with peanut butter — all relatively harmless foods when eaten alone. Why do we do it? Recently I was at a celebratory gathering where the hostess had made the most unbelievable “scratch” cupcakes with real fruit in the strawberry icing –there were orange ones too! Yeah. I ate three. I’m not proud, but I confess. They were really good! And to my friend who made them, It’s not your fault. A part of my brain that desires that kind of food got the best of the part of my brain that tells me not to eat it. But how does it happen?
It’s all in the dopamine reaction, my friend. It doesn’t kick in until we actually eat the low-nutrient, high-calorie food. It’s the intensely sweet, salty and/or fatty foods that set it off. Dopamine is a neurochemical in our brain that regulates motivation, pleasure and reward relating to certain stimuli, including food. Over time our brains build up a tolerance, requiring greater amounts of the stimuli (aka food) in order to maintain the “high” that we feel when the dopamine is released. This can lead to over-eating, bingeing and addictive behaviors. And this doesn’t apply only to food. The dopamine system is activated with all types of feel-good activities — shopping, drugs, smoking and even aggression are just a few. Some people have a reaction just by viewing pictures of food. I don’t consider myself a food addict (but then again the first step to recovery is acknowledging you have a problem), but how could I eat three of those delectable cupcakes? (You can read about my sugar addiction here.) Not everyone who eats unhealthy food is a food addict, but food that is highly palatable (insert “unhealthy”) — and I think the food engineers make it that way on purpose, but that’s a blog post for another day — has physiologically addictive properties that will make any healthy eater feel like they’ve lost control for a bit! For some people — me, for example — it’s best to just not go there, to not even go down the path of eating foods that trigger a session of overeating. So I won’t be indulging in any sweet treats for a while. Perhaps I can put my dopamine system to bed and continue on as a happy, kale eating, healthy vegan! I don’t quite get the pleasure and reward from a giant kale salad as I do from strawberry cupcakes. Close, but not quite.
So my apologies for no post on Wednesday. I was really trying to come up with something good, but I couldn’t. You know, it’s hard to post three times a week. And since I’ve sort of fallen back on old standbys for my meals, I don’t have anything new, except a dessert recipe… but then again, I refer you to the above paragraph. Oh, I told you I would share the tamale casserole that I made last weekend. And I will. It just needs a little bit of tweaking first. I’ll try it again next week with a saucier sauce. The tamale part ended up a little dry, so I’ll try it again. The flavor was right on, so if you like tamales and haven’t had them since you went healthy, you might want to get yourself some masa flour so you’re prepared. I found mine at Winco, my favorite everyday grocery store. They have a large ethnic section and I can usually count on them for ingredients for my TexMex foods. No special order needed. Now I’ve got four pounds of the stuff. I think I’ll try my hand at making some corn tortillas too! That should be fun. 🙂
Well, have a good weekend & I hope you’re one of the few people who get three days off! Enjoy & remember to make it healthy!