New research has made headlines in Australia today, showing that a poor diet can change the way our brains function, leading to a cycle of unhealthy eating habits.
When the idea for my Spud Fit Academy was first hatched back in November of 2015 (that seems like a whole lifetime ago now!) my intuition told me this was true and further research seemed to point that way too. As time goes by, more and more research is coming out looking at how junk food affects brain function.
According to a presentation at the Australasian Neuroscience Society Annual Scientific Meeting, junk food reprograms the brain and perpetuates bad dietary choices. A high-fat, high-sugar diet acts to decrease self-control in relation to food, can impact on memory and is also found to increase the likelihood of anxiety.
I can certainly relate to all of these findings - I was very regularly out of control with food to the point where it almost felt like the food was making the decisions for me. I felt totally powerless over my choices with food.
“However, it is important to know that correcting these unhealthy behaviours and implementing a healthy diet and exercise regime can reverse many of these issues. People think about obesity as being a moral problem; that people are fat because they have poor self-control,” said Dr Ian Johnston, of the University of Sydney’s School of Psychology.
“What my data has shown is that obesity seems to come after people are exposed to bad food.
“It’s reprogramming the brain into the choices you make about how you eat.”
This study was based on what Dr Johnston called a high fat, high sugar (HFHS) diet which is consistent with the standard western diet.
We should take great hope from Dr Johnston’s statement that our brains can be “reprogrammed” after a period of time abstaining from foods that are high in fat and sugar. This was certainly my experience, after only a couple of weeks of eating only potatoes the way I thought about food was already very different. After a couple of months I felt like a totally new person! Many others have now had similar experiences with a Spud Fit Academy, which makes total sense in light of this study given that potatoes contain very little fat and no sugar.
The Spud Fit Academy has always been about retraining the way we think about and relate to food, with potatoes as the ideal vehicle for making that change. It gives me great heart to reinforce that we are on the right track here with our aggressive approach to reprogramming our brains into a more positive cycle of healthy eating habits.