While listening to the Scientific American’s “60 Second Psych” podcast this morning, I couldn’t help but notice the implications for CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) treatment of over-eating.  The topic, “When Craving is Better than Getting” discussed a study published in Nature Neuroscience demonstrating that “our own calming thoughts can significantly dampen the arousal we feel when we are anticipating positive rewards.

 

In a recent article about brain cells, Joshua Freedman a U.C.L.A. neuroscientist, noted that a monkey feels maximal reward not when he eats a grape but rather when he gets it in his possession, anticipating he can eat it.

 

Reward anticipation is very strong and can have a negative impact, (think: addiction), according to researchers from Rutgers and New York universities. They studied the effect of cognitive therapy on the physiological reactions to anticipating positive reward, and the results are published in Nature Neuroscience this week.”

 

Many of the struggles associated with “disordered” eating stem from the emotional relationship we have with food.  This leads to situations where we may know that eating a certain item is not in our best interest; nevertheless, we eat it anyway due to the perception that “it will taste so good” or “it will make me feel good”.  Through CBT, it is possible to recognize such thoughts as “distortions” and replace them with ones that are corrected, or at least consider the further implications of actions: ie, “If I eat this, it may taste good for a moment, but then I will regret it.  Ultimately, it will feel better to eat more heath-fully.” 

 

I love finding evidence supporting Mind-Body medicine:  affirming that our thoughts affect our emotions, which in turn, affect our beliefs and our behaviors.  Our thoughts really do hold great power.

 

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