Babies are really known for 3 things:
- Looking ridiculously cute and melting hearts
My 7 week old nephew (see pic above) is especially famous for all of the above.
I stumbled on an article today and learned that at his age, all babies function entirely with their reptilian brain.
Or as I like to think of it… dinosaur brain… rarh!
The fun thing is, not only do babies have a dino brain, you do too.
As a fully functioning adult you also have an emotional (mammalian) and logical (prefrontal cortex) brain as well.
(Keep this in mind, I’ll touch on it a few lines down.)
Your dinosaur brain basically just responds to everything a reptile would.
Very primitive, basic stuff.
Ever seen one of those wildlife documentaries with these guys?
What you’ll notice when you watch is that they pretty much only are concerned with:
- Finding food
- Finding shelter
- Responding to threats
Finding food is a very basic instinct we all satisfy in one way or another, thanks to this lizard brain of ours.
In the past, this basic instinct was a thing of urgency.
It was super important because, well, we did need to be able to hunt and find as much food as possible because we simply didn’t know when then next meal would be and so we could be strong enough to fight off those bully Neanderthals.
These days though when it comes to getting food, it’s less about pure survival, more about satisfaction.
When you think about what’s the quickest, most satisfying food you can get, you’re operating with your dino brain.
Have you been in this situation before?
You come home from an extra stressful day at work, open the fridge looking for something to eat and there’s nothing quick you can toss in the oven.
So you open Ubereats, or dial your favourite pizza spot.
You might think to yourself, “I really shouldn’t spend any more money on take-outs this week” or “I’m just going to feel bloated after I eat the pizza”
There’s always that little part of you that goes, “But dammit, I DID just have a crappy day, I feel down, and I deserve it!”
I mean, you probably had enough ingredients in your fridge and pantry to whip something healthy up.
But that knock on the door when your food arrives, feels good doesn’t it?
I know it does because I’ve been there many times.
So what’s going on?
Are you just hopeless and devoid of willpower?
Is your struggle to eat healthy going to be a lifelong thing?
Let me tell you something…
The answer is NO!
Your brain is working in perfect order, and it goes something like this:
Phase 1: Assess The Danger
The moment you decide to take a bite of that burger, pizza, or whatever you ordered, your dinosaur brain goes to work assessing whether you’re in a bad or stressful situation and whether you should run (fight or flight).
If nothing triggers these actions, and junk food rarely would, we move to phase 2.
Phase 2: Trigger Your Emotions
Your mammalian brain kicks in. This is the part of your brain that handles your emotions. It’s the part that figures out if what you’re eating is going to make you feel good. And chances are your emotional brain will do a memory trip back to the time you first had a burger and how it made you feel.
Maybe you came home from school when you were 6, feeling kinda down, and your parents decided to treat you to a Happy Meal.
Your mammalian brain registered this as a “feel good moment.”
And so, every time you feel kinda down, and eat that burger (or any junk food), those feel good emotions come to the surface, and you feel better.
It doesn’t matter how far in the past that emotional trigger was set.
Are you seeing the power your brain has over you?
It’s amazing isn’t it?
Here’s a doozy…
80% of your total brain activity happens in the dinosaur brain mammalian brain AKA the old brains.
You’ve got basically no chance!
And this my friends is how behaviour is repeated over and over again!
It’s how you keep getting stuck in the cycle of take outs or drive-thrus.
Now that you know what’s behind those cravings you can’t seem to shake, I’m going to ask you to try not to beat yourself up so much anymore.
“But what can I do to get off this hamster wheel of drive-thrus and takeouts?”
Turns out, you just have to put your dinosaur through a workout routine.
Not in the pumping iron, running on a treadmill kinda way…
You’ve gotta retrain your brain.
Here’s a quick exercise you can put into practice right away:
Instead of allowing your dino to make decisions for you next time you’re wondering “what’s for dinner” try to let 15 minutes go by first before opening up your Ubereats app or jumping in your car.
You’ll find that your dino and emotional brain will slowly start to take the back seat.
And this makes room for the newest part of your brain (the other 20%) to come into play: your logical brain.
Your logical brain will come to the rescue with a message that goes something like, “Hey buddy, remember all that stuff you’ve got in the fridge? We can figure out a quick meal to make that takes less time than waiting for the takeout to arrive!”
If you want a more long term solution though, you’re going to have to do some inner work to change your unconscious behaviours.
I’ve put together a downloadable worksheet you can print off to help with that.
We’ll call it the ninja-tactic to combat your old brains.
The worksheet is available for the crazy price of zero dollars, you can grab it free below!
That’s all for now, folks!
PS. Do you think your dinosaur is just a little too overpowering right now?
Come join us in our free Facebook community for pescatarians.
We’re all about helping each other in a safe environment!