Change your brain. Change your eating – Neuroplasticity

neuroplasticityNeuroplasticity. It’s a bit of neuro-buzz word. Have you heard of it? And what does it mean?

The Neuroplasticity concept has been around for a while. It’s basically a way of describing our brain and our nervous system as being like plastic. We can change them, mold or rewire them into something else.

3 quick facts to know:

    1. Our brains are made up of A LOT of nerve cells called neurons. Estimates of up to 100 billion  in fact!
    2. To help us think, undertake our activities and our life, the neurons communicate with each other
    3. They do this via chemical signals called neurotransmitters

This process starts from when we are young.

After birth and as we start to grow as small children, the connections between the neurons make paths. The paths are made by learning, interacting and experiencing. A good example is when a child learns to talk. At first a parent might start talking to their child even if they can’t answer back. Eventually through listening and watching, a child can start to say words, then sentences and eventually to read and write.

Once we follow the same path repeatedly, the path becomes a well worn highway. It gets easier and easier.  The neurons and all the signalling between them make a superhighway in our brain. Try and think of it like the internet and all the gazillion connections between computers across the world.

This video from Sentis explains it:

 

How does neuroplasticity change your eating?

If you have any habit or thought process that is your regular “go-to” in life, you can change it by changing your brain.

Maybe you find you eat fast at dinner and you find you are eating past the point of comfortable fullness because of this. To change this, you could start practising eating slowly. If you try this once, it’s unlikely to make much of a difference. However, if you do this every day over a few days or weeks, you will mold your “highway” into a new route. The new eating highway will be more helpful to you!

Meditation is also another great example. Much of the research shows, those people who meditate regularly, have more beneficial health outcomes.

Perhaps someone’s regular “go-to” in times of stress is to get sweaty palms, a rise in blood pressure and a wee bit of anger.  By meditating regularly and learning to calm the mind, they form a new highway that allows them to act in a different way when a stressful experience comes up. This video from Smiling Mind shows how.

 

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