I often focus my articles on lifestyle and your psychology; however, today I’m wanting to take perhaps a more technical approach regarding our brain and weight. Did you know that it’s not just your eyes and nose that react to “Yummy” foods—it’s also your brain? For example, drinking a milkshake causes the pleasure center in your brain to get happy—unless you're overweight. It sounds counterintuitive doesn’t it? A recent study watched young women savor milkshakes inside a brain scanner and concluded that when the brain doesn't sense enough gratification from food, people overeat to compensate. This small study showed who was more likely to gain weight over the next year: "The more blunted a person’s response to the milkshake taste, the more likely she was to gain weight," said Dr. Eric Stice, a senior scientist at the Oregon Research Institute who headed the study.

This is something I have been speaking about for years and in fact just today spoke about it with my husband. If you are overweight, your brain chemicals, and yes your senses, are dulled, so you don’t fully taste what you are eating or drinking. An individual who is at their appropriate weight, and of course eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise, will not have this effect. When you're overweight, it’s harder to get the pleasure sensation, which is something we crave from eating.

We’ve all heard about the brain chemical serotonin in recent years. Low levels of serotonin causes increased carbohydrate cravings and increase in anti- depressant prescriptions. Another brain chemical called dopamine is responsible for our ability to sense pleasure. Dopamine also helps with impulse control. Brain scans done on the obese show they have less dopamine than lean people, making them more vulnerable to compulsive overeating.

The brain is extraordinary. For many years now, I have made available to you specific brain chemical tests to help us determine your brain chemistry levels. The tests are quite revealing and really help us devise programs for improving brain function and balancing your hormones. Diet is one thing, counseling and coaching another, and having relevant tests available just helps further in getting you healthy and helping you become the best you can be.

Even if weight is not an issue, perhaps memory, sharpness, or clarity of mind might be. Maybe you want to be more focused. Even though I get incredible results with the eating plans I provide, sometimes additional fine-tuning can make a world of difference.

Stay healthy and “brainy!”

(c) Monika Klein, B.S., C.N.

Author's Bio: 

Monika Klein, B.S., C.N. is an award winning clinical nutritionist and weight loss expert. Monika is the "Compassionate and Practical Nutrition and Lifestyle Coach." Her company, Coaching For Health, offers life transforming weight loss and wellness programs, classes and products throughout the world. To learn more about Monika’s services and programs, visit coachingforhealth.com.