Eat with your brain to lose weight

Brain food

Brain food

We eat with our brains.  The way we think about food directly affects what we actually taste.  If a menu describes a dish as ‘Traditional Cajun Red Beans with Rice’ instead of just ‘Red Beans with Rice’ people will think it tastes better.  This has been shown in research.  It’s no wonder that you can’t look at a menu these days without finding that everything has been delicately infused, flame-grilled or generously drizzled.

Our Amy Brain learned the cues millennia ago.  The colour of a berry on a tree taught us whether to expect a sweet delight or a sour shock.  And it’s not just about perceptions.  Having your brain scanned while you drink a glass of wine doesn’t sound like fun, but it has revealed how dominant our minds are.  People will actually enjoy one glass more than another (from the same bottle) because they have been told that it is more expensive.  Not that they say they prefer it.  They actually feel more pleasure.  Their brains’ pleasure zones are more active.

So today’s food companies waste no time making stuff that makes your brain happy.  If you walked into a baker’s shop a few years ago you’d have seen a lot of brown: loaves, buns, cakes.  All brown. These days bakeries look more like toy shops.  Fairy cakes in wonderful pastels.  Icing as shiny as plastic.  And now rainbow bagels.  Wow!  As Buzzfeed said, ‘Here’s a thing that really exists.’

So how are you going to feel satisfied with lentils, kale and crisp-bread?  When you’re dieting you miss out on all the fun.  That’s one reason why diets don’t work.  You get bored and your Amy Brain rebels.  At least when you’re dieting with the Diet Groove, you can have that rainbow bagel.  And if you’re in Birmingham, good news, they’ve just arrived.  That’s the joy of Reload days.

But there’s much more to it than that.  Even when you’re on a Fastday or a Burnday, you can appeal to your Amy Brain when you eat.  And the answer is simple.  Meat.  Ok, a lot less colourful, but a food that really delivers for the senses.

When it comes to losing weight by appealing to your brain, lean protein has a lot going for it.  From a nutritional point of view it works.  And you can read about it here.  But there’s much more to it than that.

Let’s take steak. 

Steak satisfies you because it feeds your Amy Brain.  Everything about it.  The wet slap into the pan, the sizzle of the griddle, the sweet smell of burnt, caramelised lines on the bars, a scattered dusty crust of salty flakes.  The blood red, the roasted brown, the perfect pink.  In just five minutes it promises fulfilment.   Plate it with a bunch of rocket leaves, balsamic and a drip of oil.  A dollop of mustard or some fresh horseradish grated into fat free yoghurt and you have yourself a huge flavour sensation.

You know you are going to love it, you are going to be satisfied and you are going to be full before you’ve even taken a bite.  Eat it slowly.  Carve your slices with a very sharp knife.  Open the flesh.  Feast.  Savour.  This does not feel like dieting.  This feels like eating.

Your brain is happy, your stomach is happy.  And when you wake up the next morning your scales are happy too.  And of course it's not just steak that does this.

Losing weight is not just about what you eat.  It’s about how you eat.  And if you don’t take account of your Amy Brain, you’ll be doomed to the cycle of broken diets.  You can learn how at The Diet Groove.  It’s way of eating that has worked for over three years for me now and I’ve lost 4 ½ stone.  Let me know how you get on.