Staying Consistently Motivated Towards Healthy Eating Essay Sample
Even as it is difficult to find anyone unwilling to consistently engage in healthy eating, individuals who do it in reality are very few in numbers, since that takes a consistent flow of motivation, which emanates from an intrinsic interaction among biological states, brain functions, motivation, and healthy eating. Such a state of affairs thus raises a question, such as “Is it possible for an individual to stay consistently motivated towards healthy eating?”
Brain Structures and Functions Associated with Motivation
Motivated behaviors emerge from an individual’s push and pull toward some end-state, where several structures and functions of brain become actively involved. The four main structures of the limbic system, such as the limbic cortex, amygdala, hippocampus, and septal area connect it to hypothalamus, cerebral cortex, and thalamus and together they play major roles in generating/regulating motivation and emotions (Deckers, 2010).
For example, amygdala recognizes emotions and analyzes potential threats before motivating an individual to react accordingly, hippocampus forms new memories and connects senses and emotions to memories that allow an individual to scan all past experiences and pick up the best response for a current situation, and prefrontal cortex controls impulsive behavior and septal area acts as a pleasure zone and a producer of positive reinforcement upon stimulation. The hypothalamus joins the process by receiving information from the endocrine, neural, and metabolic signals, which helps in regulating all motivated behaviors (Adcock et al., 2006; Deckers, 2010; Placidi et al., 2004; Reynolds, Hyland, & Wickens, 2001).
The above state of affairs strongly suggests that several clues to stay consistently motivated towards healthy eating exist within it, which is also supported by many evidence-based research. For example, it is now known that a stimulated amygdala highly helps in recalling new learning or retaining newly acquired habits such as new healthy diet routine (DeVietti & Kirkpatrick, 1977), while release of dopamine into the hippocampus generates a sense of reward that strengthens motivation to achieve a desired goal through healthy eating (Adcock et al., 2006). Other facts such as hypothalamus regulates food intake behavior, lateral hypothalamic region acts as hunger generator, hippocampus is capable of sending negative feedback to inhibit overflow of incentive motivation (Placidi et al., 2004), altogether create an impression that if there are some ways to manipulate these processes then it is possible to stay consistently motivated towards healthy eating. However, to convert such possibility into reality, one needs to explore some other areas of the issue, such as the barriers to obtain a favorable behavior within the context, such as evolutionary and genetic factors, besides exploring the possibility of exploiting other intrinsic and extrinsic factors, such as serotonin system, social encouragement and positive reinforcement.
Barriers to Stay Consistently Motivated towards Healthy Eating
Both intrinsic and extrinsic factors can act as barriers to stay consistently motivated towards healthy eating. For example, evolutionary factors play intrinsic roles in influencing hypothalamus as well as dopamine system, which in turn can highly influence human response to eating. In such cases an individual may get attracted to eating whatever is available, or may feel repulsive about eating (Deckers, 2010, Wickens, 2005). On the other hand, genetic and cultural factors may cause several biological predispositions such as food intolerances, allergies or leaning towards foods with cultural flavor (O'Rahilly & Farooqi, 2008; Wickens, 2005). The telltale signs of hereditary factors within the context are, alcoholism, depression, substance abuse, and disordered eating (Hotelling & Liston, 2004). Apart from that, characteristics of genetic makeup and other psychological factors with certain genetic basis may act as barriers to healthy eating, where genetic makeup may affect individual perception of taste and degree of satisfaction, and other psychological factors may generate stress, unhappiness and boredom, all of which in turn may affect both quality and quantity of food intake (Deckers, 2010; Wickens, 2005).
The external barriers come in the forms of social situations, where collective and individual perceptions, opinions, cultural practices and availability of healthy food as per individual requirement may act as barriers to healthy eating (Lockyear, 2004).
Winning the Barriers
Even as the list of barriers looks quite long to deal with, there are ways to topple many of them, suggest the researchers. For example, individuals with adequate serotonin in the synapse are found as more discerning in food choices, or an individual may exploit inherited quality of intelligence and reprogram one’s eating habits. The latter may be termed as exploiting the abilities of one’s frontal lobes to distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate food choices and eking out an intelligent lifestyle (Deckers, 2010; Lockyear, 2004). While the above act may be termed as a positive reinforcement at an individual level, the same can act magically at collective level, where the individuals can be influenced through positive inputs from their close or peripheral circle of society and become engaged in healthy eating. In such a case, the transformation of one’s intrinsic response to eating may follow a chain of events – where even a few day’s engagement with healthy eating may nourish the internal system and bring clarity in one’s perception regarding healthy eating, which may generate more sense of reward regarding the same. Therefore, perception-induced generation of a sense of reward may help an individual to stay consistently motivated towards healthy eating (Adcock et al., 2006; Deckers, 2010; Placidi et al., 2004; Reynolds et al, 2001; Wickens, 2005).
The review of literature clearly shows that the issue of staying consistently motivated towards healthy eating can be interpreted as an issue of consistently making a choice, which depends on intrinsic and extrinsic motivating factors, where intrinsic motivating factors emanate from intrinsic interaction among the three elements such as biological conditions, brain structures, and their functioning. At this point the review suggests that these three elements also work with the inputs provided by the extrinsic factors. This finding from the review thus clearly suggests that it is possible to achieve synergy of biological states, brain structures, and their functioning by exploiting the extrinsic factors and to obtain a chosen behavior such as staying consistently motivated towards health eating. These findings finally prompt this study to infer that a conscious and concerted attempt to stick to the decision of healthy eating can make it possible for an individual to stay consistently motivated towards the same.
Adcock, R. A., Thangavel, A., Whitfield-Gabrieli, S., Knutson, B., & Gabrieli, J. D. (2006). Reward-Motivated Learning: Mesolimbic Activation Precedes Memory Formation. Neuron, 50(3), 507-517. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2006.03.036.
Deckers, L. (2010). Motivation: Biological, psychological, and environmental (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
DeVietti, T. L., & Kirkpatrick, B. R. (1977). Stimulation of specific regions of brain in rats modifies retention for newly acquired and old habits. Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology, 91(3), 662-673. doi: 10.1037/h0077343. Hotelling, K., & Liston, L. K. (2004). Guidelines for the outpatient management of individuals with eating disorders in the university setting. Retrieved from http://www.aucccd.org/img/pdfs/eating_disorder_manual.pdf
Lockyear, P. L. (2004). Cultural differences in diet and heart health among women: Culture and diet. Retrieved from http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/490343_2
O'Rahilly, S., & Farooqi, I. S. (2008, November). Human Obesity: A Heritable Neurobehavioral Disorder That Is Highly Sensitive to Environmental Conditions. Diabetes , 57(11), 2905– 2910.
Placidi, R. J., Chandler, P. C., Oswald, K. D., Maldonado, C., Wauford, P. K., & Boggiano, M. M. (2004). Stress and hunger alter the anorectic efficacy of fluoxetine in binge-eating rats with a history of caloric restriction. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 36(3), 328-341. doi: 10.1002/eat.20044
Reynolds, J. N. J., Hyland, B. I., & Wickens, J. R. (2001). A cellular mechanism of reward- related learning. Nature, 413(6851), 67-70.
Wickens, A.P. (2005). Foundations of biopsychology (2nd ed.). New York: Pearson/Prentice Hall.
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