How Memory Affects Your So-Called "Hungry" Habits

By Ashlyn Heller

Many think obesity is simply caused by overeating. Some think it's from a lack of exercise. Others think it's genetic. But this new study out of Macquarie University is going to change your mind. No, literally, apparently obesity is all about your mind!

Ever wonder why, as a kid, you never overanalyzed food or thought about it other than when it was time to eat? You simply felt hungry, ate your meal, stopped when you were full, and forgot about food altogether until you were hungry again. Then, suddenly, you find yourself at age 30 constantly famished, craving sugary, fattening foods, and at a weight you're totally unhappy with. According to a study at Macquarie University, this change is due to the consumption of a Western diet over time. And, apparently, this change is all in your head.

Let us explain. The study looked at people's performances on memory tests and cross checked it with their diets. The researchers found that those who consume a Western diet (aka a diet high in fats and sugar and low in fruits, vegetables, and fiber—i.e. Americans) perform worse on memory and learning tasks. But the more telling aspect of this study was that those same people were more likely to crave pleasing, tasty foods whether they were hungry or not, even after a filling lunch! Hmm, so those who have bad eating habits have bad memories and crave fattening foods? Researchers think this means that obesity is probably a disease of the brain—a memory disease, to be exact.

The scientists at Macquarie believe that weight gain and obesity are most likely linked to the hippocampus (the part of your brain responsible for memory). In a normal brain, food-related memories take priority in the hippocampus during hunger (you can't really think about much else until you eat). Then, these memories are inhibited when you're satiated, so food is essentially forgotten when eating is no longer a top priority. But people who eat unhealthy do damage to their hippocampus over time, resulting in a poor memory. Not only does this mean you might not be able to remember the name of that coworker who just introduced herself to you, but it also means that your food memory is impaired. The function of your brain that makes you forget food is now actually malfunctioning—so even if you don't have actual hunger, food is constantly on your mind. This explains why you're always hungry and also why American obesity rates continue to rise to this day!

This explains a lot, so don't let this discovery slip your mind. Eat foods that do amazing things for you brain—because, clearly, brain food is body food. Steer clear of processed grub and foods with added sugar. Prioritize all natural fruits and veggies and other high fiber foods to improve your memory and get your mind out of the gutter once and for all. All you have to do to change your body is to first change your mind! To get started, check out these 20 Best-Ever Recipes for Zero Belly.


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