Ep #8: Food – What Is It and What Is It For?

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Today's episode of It's Never Too Late to Lose Weight is all about food! Yes, we all eat it but have you ever given thought to why you're choosing the food you are?

Whole foods are big news as more and more nutrition authorities are recognizing the health benefits of eating less processed food. I discussed last week about the importance of primarily eating whole foods and shopping the perimeter of your grocery store. But that's the easy part for most of us. The struggle begins when we get home and have to decide what to do with all the stuff we've just bought. A lot of times, we opt to leave that head of lettuce wilting in the bottom drawer and head out to the convenience of fast food or restaurants: we go for the quick hit of pleasure that our brain knows we're about to receive.

Join me today as I share how your lack of awareness of what is in the food you are eating and your thoughts about loving pleasure heightening foods is preventing you from living your dreams at best and is killing you at worst.

Understand what foods make us feel good and how to determine why you’re choosing the foods you’re choosing with my Risk Assessment Tool.

Click "Play" below to get started!

Make sure to download the Quick-Start Guide to a Successful Weight-Loss Plan

Listen to the Full Episode:

What You'll Learn from this Episode:

  • How our pleasure-seeking brains are incapacitating us.
  • Why whole foods are so integral to a comprehensive weight-loss plan.
  • The 3 categories of food.
  • How processed foods hijack our brains to desire them more.
  • What a “thought error” is and how it affects which foods we choose.
  • Questions to ask yourself to determine why you’re choosing the foods you’re choosing.

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

Welcome to It's Never Too Late to Lose Weight, a podcast for women approaching 60 who have been successful at everything but reaching their weight loss goals. Tune in each week for tools and strategies to help you lose weight, create a strong body, and support a healthy mind. Here's your host, certified weight and life coach, Pat Beaupre Becker.

Hello my darlings, it's so good to be here. It's actually a little bit early today. I wanted to tell you this very funny conversation I was having with a client. We were talking about managing our minds and someone had made a comment about her boots and that she looked like a pirate. And so, we started talking about how we both loved pirates.

I was reminded of one of my favorite movies as a kid called The Crimson Pirate, and this was the story of this like, Robin Hood type pirate, played by Burt Lancaster and his partner, Nick Cravat. And it was just this hysterical movie, but I remember that I loved this movie, and anytime it came on I would watch it. So having that memory, I went online to the Google and found the movie, and I watched the trailer and it was amazing.

So it starts off with Burt Lancaster comes swinging down the ship, off the sails of the ships and he lands and he's got no shirt on and he's probably 25 and he's just like totally built, his body is glistening, and then he looks right into the camera and he breaks into his big smile. And it's like, oh my god, I'm already like, totally there. Whatever this man wants, it's like, I'm ready, right?

And so I watched the movie and the thing about it is that it was so fun. It was totally a silly movie, but the clothes and the bodies in motion and just the pure fun, and I sat there and watched it with my friend and my husband, and we just laughed, and we really enjoyed it. So the memory of the joy that I felt and then re-experiencing it actually reminded me of the Harvard psychologist, Ellen Langer. She did this experiment called counter clockwise, and she had this idea that if you put people in a good setting, where one they could associate with being actually younger and a better version of themselves, it would impact their physiology.

So she put eight men in their 70s into this location and these guys, they were shuffling in, they were arthritic, they were stooped, a couple of them had canes, right? So when they went through this door, they entered a time warp that was just like it was for them 20 years ago. And so I think they stayed for a week and they came out standing taller, the two guys didn't need their canes, and they were able to measure certain of their vitals and they basically saw that they became more youthful and more vital.

So I'm like, "Oh my god, this is exactly what she's talking about." This memory, a positive memory from my youth that I revisited and we just sat there and had lots of fun and realized I really like pirate shirts. So that was it.

Let's get to the topic at hand. I want to talk today about whole foods and health and losing weight. And I want you to really understand and acknowledge that you make certain choices for selecting the kind of food you want to eat. And changing the way we eat is not easy because of our brain. Now, if you started your plan, as we discussed in last week's episode, and if not, you can go listen to that and create your eating plan. I recommended that you start eating 100% whole foods, right, and if you can get organic and grass fed, even better.

But when you go to make these changes, probably like the shopping part is pretty easy, right? You get the food, you put it in the bin, and maybe the harder part is actually doing the things that you have to do to prepare that food, right? Because it's not fast food. So I say that it's not easy because of your brain because look, your brain does not like any changes. And when you make a decision to make a change in your life, you're going to have to know that your brain is just not going to like it. It's going to be telling you, "Don't do this. Are you crazy? Everything's just fine. Can't we just go along the way we've gone?"

Because your brain is a pleasure-seeking machine and food is pleasure. Your brain is a pain avoiding machine and hunger and change is very unpleasant. And your brain is seeking efficiency, right? And when we learn something new, it doesn't feel as easy as the thing we have been doing our whole life.

These are just the rules of our primal brain's operating system. But there's a problem because today, pleasure seeking is killing us. Today, pleasure seeking is taking away your ability to succeed at getting to a healthy weight. It's not allowing you to adjust your taste buds to real food versus artificial, dopamine pleasure. You know, we used to search for foods that would ensure our survival, and that part is high calorie foods. That was what we needed because we knew we weren't always going to have an abundance of food. We were worrying about starving to death.

But pleasure seeking now is equated with maybe it's overeating at night. Your brain is still thinking it's trying to survive, or maybe it's eating a bag of chips or an extra glass of wine while you're cooking. These don't necessarily serve what you want but your brain is still saying, "Yes, this is a great idea."

And the only problem here - it's not a problem unless it's a problem, right? We're facing debilitating and disastrous lifestyle diseases as a result of how we have actually innovated to create abundance of cheap, easy food, right? We have solved the problem that our ancestors had, but the problem with this food is that our bodies are not flourishing with it.

Women in our 60s now represent over 40% in the obesity rates. The years of wonder and pleasure and sitting back that you may have imagined are now filled with pain and discomfort and very high cost of healthcare. So ladies, it's time to take back our health.

And what I'm trying to communicate with you today is that we can actually train our prefrontal cortex, that evolved part of our brain, really give honor to the part that when made conscious we can make decisions for our own good. Because that part of our brain is expert at learning and planning and executing, but also distinguishing that a long-term reward will be had if one doesn't do something in the moment.

Your primitive brain just wants in the moment, right? Solve that problem, eat that food. But the prefrontal cortex can say, "Now, wait a minute. If I eat all this food, I am going to continue to gain weight, I'm not going to reach my goals." The other part I think that we don't really know until we get there is that we had this intuition, but unless we stop and listen to what's happening to our bodies, question what we're putting into our bodies, and why we're doing it, we really don't have access to that intuition.

So I'm offering that we're going to challenge what we think and a good way to do that is by asking questions. So I created a risk assessment tool to help you make choices that are going to get you to your ideal weight, and to get more energy and vitality into your 50s, 60s and 70s. So go to www.never2late.info/risk.

So research today, if you look at all of the research, is driving us towards eating 100% whole foods. Lots of vegetables, healthy oils, good proteins. We're not talking conventional raised meats, which have hormones and antibiotics and raised on these corporate farms where they're really trying to prevent the animals from getting disease by pumping them up with antibiotics. And then we eat that meat that has that antibiotics in it.

So when you create it again, your personal protocol, based on last week's podcast, now we're putting in 100% whole foods. And I want to tell you there's really a revolution among medicine in - especially among integral medicine doctors and neuroscientists, and people like you and me. Because now we have the scientific research to back up the idea that whole foods is better for our body.

So for simplicity's sake, I'm going to put food in three categories. There's one, reward driven food items, two, nutrition driven food items, and three, personal food sensitivities. So let's talk about the reward driven foods. So we're being conditioned to eat foods that are processed and contain high concentrations of flour and sugar. And what's happening is corporate farming are spending billions in big advertising, and healthcare costs are now being driven up by what we're calling lifestyle diseases, and I don't have the - I'm sure that this is something that you know, right?

And despite the fact that the United States spends more money per capita on our healthcare, we are below the top 50 countries in the world in terms of life expectancy. And this whole system, which is so expensive, actually ranks below the top 20 around the world. And we can talk about corporations and we can talk about advertising, and I think it's really important to know that, but I also think we have our brains to blame.

Because the pleasures and the food that are designed for us to get more to buy more, and they create urgency and desire. And each time we eat that food, we strengthen the synapses that wire our neurons together, and that creates more desire. So processed foods are created to hijack the pleasure center of the brain with dopamine, right? Dopamine is that neurotransmitter that just feels really good. And the more dopamine and the more pleasure, and then the more desire.

And when your brain thinks something feels good, it thinks it's more important so it wants more and it goes after it. It's like - I like to say there's the autobahn and there's your brain on the autobahn, vroom, it's going as fast as the speed of light toward the pleasure center.

But if we look closer, the food that gives you the most immediate pleasure has the worst long-term effect on your mental health and your physical energy and your physical health. And then we add stress, right? I mean, all of us women, we're trying to be the perfect mother, the perfect business owner, we're - we have to be physically beautiful, brilliant, perfect, oh my god, we have all these contradictions in our brains that are creating lots of stress. Of course, we want to even more eat that food that's fast, quick, and easy.

We're being conditioned every day, all around us, to overeat these foods. 4.6 billion dollars is spent just on fast food advertising alone. So basically, we're not eating because we have this dopamine response, right? We're getting this reward, we have these memories of our childhood, a smell, an idea that we have of a certain food making us feel good.

Ladies, it's time to take back your health. Let's talk about the second kind of food. Nutrition driven food. I recently listened to a podcast where Tom Malterre was asked, "What is food?" I'm going to kind of generalize what he said, but basically, food is a conglomeration of the elements of life, right? We have air, water, soil, the sun shines down and then the leaves of the plant trap that and transform it into energy and then the water creeps in to the roots and the soil microorganisms digest it and then we have absorption of minerals.

And what we end up is this incredibly symphony of adaptive synergistic compounds that we eat, we digest, we absorb, and then we use. Our bodies actually transform this, all of these elements, right? And then we are nourished by them. Because food is actually meant to nourish your cells. Are you aware of that?

Our bodies are this amazingly complex system that works best on real food. And when I think about health at my age, it's the engine that drives my ability to go to Pilates, to go to the gym, to go into town and go to the circus thing I'm doing tonight. It gives me the ability to think and run and feel and love and change the world, if that's what I want, right? What if I just want to play with my grandkids, which I hope to have someday? Or be able to bend down and get back up when I'm working in the garden.

So we have our work cut out for us, but we have the tools where we can make these changes. So the third part of food I wanted to talk about is personal sensitivities. And basically, everyone is different, and it's really important to know that there is no one food plan that is for everyone. We need to understand what foods make us feel good. I have a client who has a hard time with salads and eating raw vegetables. I have another client who doesn't do well on dairy. Another client who's vegan.

So we have all these different ways that personally, we react to food, and we have to understand how we do react to food. So you could start with an elimination diet where you can eliminate the dairy. Maybe you've already done the sugar and flour, but there's a book that Tom Malterre has written that's called The Elimination Diet, and if you're concerned about it, you can use that as a guide.

But the other problem is the way we look at food and the way we talk about food. So we know that we have this physiological reaction to dopamine, but when we have these ideas about food, it actually makes it even more difficult for us to make these decisions because you know that your thoughts create your feelings, and your feelings drive your action, right? And action is the idea of choosing the food, right?

So we have this - I call it a thought error, you know, is that we think that food is bad or food is good, and when we eat good food we're good and when we eat bad food we're bad. But I think that's a mistake. The way I like to look at it is there are foods that are nutritious and foods that lack nutrition. There's food that's designed to transform into building blocks in your body you need for health and energy and vitality, and then there's food that's created for pleasure.

So we want to look at food as does it increase health or decrease health? And of course, how much you're eating matters as well, right? But food that is 100% whole is going to balance your hormones, and then you actually get access to this feel good neurotransmitter which is called serotonin, which isn't as intense as dopamine, it's a different - acts on a different part of your brain. It's not a reward but it does help you to feel good.

So when you change your food and you start to nourish yourself, you supply your body with what is necessary for life and health, you're going to start feeling better. So remember, you get to choose and decide whether to eat nutritious food or non-nutritious food. You get to measure the risks of the danger to your body by eating non-nutritious food.

But I guess the question I want to ask you is are you aware of the risk, and then how you measure the risk. You know, when my daughter was younger, I would go to work, I would pick her up after a full day's work, drive home, and then I'd be standing in front of the fridge with some fresh vegetables that I had bought, and I would be thinking, "God, what do I feel like eating?" So I had already spent my whole day making decisions at work, getting my daughter home, and I wanted something to eat that was delicious, that was fast, and that was easy.

Because I was sitting there hungry and so was my daughter. So I'm looking at these vegetables and my stomach is rumbling, and the thought of washing the lettuce, cutting the tomatoes and cucumber just made me want to run. And you know what we did? We ran right to the local burrito joint or Burger King for happy meals. Anything fast, easy, and even cheap seemed like a good idea.

And come on, who doesn't want a happy meal? I don't know, after a while, can you just in your imagine see that droopy lettuce sitting in the bottom of the bin? And if you were an integral doctor, medical doctor, you would not be surprised to know that my doctor had allergies, skin problems, and she had weight and body issues.

And as she got into her teens, she did not benefit from this very habitual way of eating. Her food choices weren't giving her the energy that she required for playing sports and for studying. I mean, what nutrition was she getting? And me, I was 40 pounds overweight, but I wasn't stopping and asking anything about nutrition. I just was getting through and getting it done.

Now I've learned about nutrition and my daughter became a nutrition consultant and she really is right now just flourishing. Her skin is beautiful, she's at a healthy weight, she has a great attitude about life and about her body, and I'm so grateful that she learned - that we both learned different habits.

But we're being sold this processed food by making it look beautiful and it's being advertised by sexy, beautiful men and women in fantastic visual pictures, right? We're being conditioned every day to choose this food. And if you just blame your own willpower, or assign yourself as good or bad, then you're just not asking the right questions.

So let's go to the risk assessment tool, and these are the questions I want you to ask. Now, I'm going to start with a little bit of a turnaround. I want you to imagine the food that is maybe your troublesome food. Let's say it's chocolate chip cookies. And I want you to imagine that chocolate chip cookie looking at you and asking, "What do you want me to do for you?" And if you answer honestly, "I want you to entertain me. I want you to comfort me. I want you to be my friend", well, then the question is, "Is that what food and chocolate chip cookies are really meant to be?"

The other question I want you to ask is, "Are you eating for the short term now or are you eating for forever?" And then I'm going to continue on with a series of questions. "Is this food on my food plan?" That's either a yes or a no. "Is this food going to provide fuel for me to live long and thrive?" It's either yes or a no. "Is this going to help me reach my health goal, my weight goal?" "Does this food supply me with what's necessary for life, health, and growth?" "Is this food a risk for my health?" And if so, "Why do I want to eat it?"

Then the important question is, "Do I like that reason?" The next question, "Why do I desire this food?" "What's my story about this food and how old is this story?" Is this a thought that you've had since you were a teenager? And then one of my favorite questions is, "How many times have I eaten this food over the course of my life?" Like, I ate cookies and pie so many times over the course of my life. I ate enough to feed a small village.

Then the other question is, "What would life be like without this food?" And next is, "What I'm looking for the job of food?" And the question that I think is most important for you is, "Do you want to learn to not desire this food?" Because you can learn how not to desire it but the question is, is that what you want?

So when you print out the worksheet, you can actually answer all of these questions on each of the foods that you are either struggling to give up or not, just want to understand why you're eating the food and making the choices you're making, not because of the dopamine, because we know the choices are made because of the dopamine, but what does your conscious brain want and do you want to learn to not desire the food.

So in summary, number one, we're in the middle of a scientific revolution about food and health and lifestyle and our brain. Number two, you can take back your health. It's in your hands and your brain. Number three, food either provides a reward of dopamine or nutrition. You want to also look at our personal sensitivities to find out how we react in particular to particular foods. Number four, foods that are highly processed that have added chemicals and high in sugar send dopamine toward the reward center of your brain. And you're being conditioned every day all around you to overeat these foods.

Number five, foods that grow organically with the least amount of chemical pesticides are created to nourish the cells in your body so you can live your life. Number six, the way you think about food creates or decreases desire because food in and of itself is not good or bad. It's the way we think about it. Number seven, it all comes down to knowing that when you eat, you're either going to receive nourishment or reward. And by using the risk assessment tool, you can become aware of what's happening in your brain and make that choice.

And remember, the next time you have a piece of food that you're not sure you should "eat", imagine that food looking at you and asking, "What do you want me to do for you?" And if you can answer honestly, I want you to entertain me. I'm going to suggest you go to a movie if your response is, "I want you to comfort me. I want you to call a friend if you think, "I want you to be my friend", then it's time to reach out to your community and find a community where you can actually interact with human beings. Because if the food is giving you long term health and support and is going to help you reach your goals, go for it. Enjoy it.

So I would love to hear your thoughts about this episode. Head over to Facebook to Beaupre Coaching and leave your comments and questions there.

Now I'm going to talk about my favorite things, and this week I picked Brain Pickings, which is actually a website. It's an online - almost like an online magazine, curated by Maria Popova, and I think she is one of the most interesting women in the world. And her thesis for this website is that creativity is a force - she calls it a combinatorial force, which is our ability to tap into our mental pool of resources, our knowledge, our insight, information, inspiration, and all the fragments populating our minds that have accumulated over the years, just by being present and alive and awake in the world.

And then to combine them in extraordinary new ways. This is amazing because this is what I feel like I want for myself and for all of us. We have made it to our 50s, we've made it to our 60s, we have all this knowledge and insight and information that we have accumulated over the years if we've been present and alive and awake, right? And the way we combine them individually, our brains are all very different and unique, and how we combine that experience is exciting and to me, very innovative.

So I would love for you to check out Brain Pickings where she - mostly it's literature and science and current events, where she actually provides information about books and ideas, it's mostly about ideas. So I think that it's pretty exciting if you want to go to Brain Pickings and learn a little bit about Maria Popova.

So thanks again for coming back, I'm really excited that you're here, and if you have any questions, you can go to the Facebook group, to Beaupre Coaching, and leave your comments and questions there. Thanks again for coming back and I'll see you next week.

Thanks for listening to this episode of It's Never Too Late to Lose Weight. If you liked what you heard and want more, head over to never2late.info/guide, to download your quick start guide to jump start your weight loss plan and begin creating an amazing life you love.

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