Motivation and Eating Healthy
Psychologists describe motivation or goals as cognitive representations of a desirable outcome that move a person into action. Dieting, eating healthy, exercising, and achieving good looks and health are all related to the goal of weight-control. A person who is motivated by food is also motivated to by other related goals, such as eating at a restaurant, opening the refrigerator, and opening a bag of chips. In order to maintain a healthy weight, people will set a conscious goal to eat healthy by dieting, exercising, or even undergoing a weight loss surgical procedure. To understand how individuals successfully maintain a healthy weight, one needs to understand the brain’s functions, emotions, and heredity associated with dieting (Stroebe, Van Koningsbruggen, Papies, & Aarts, 2013).
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) offers a noninvasive tool to examine the etiology of eating behavior, the variances in activation of brain regions in different states of hunger. Food intake regulation such as mediating hunger, judgments regarding food choice, the sensory and emotional pleasure associated with eating, and the control of energy metabolism is regulated by a variety of roles in the brain (Ho, Kennedy, & Dimitropoulos, 2012). Brain circuits such as the orbitofrontal cortex, insula, amygdalae, hypothalamus, striatum, and midbrain regions including the ventral tegmental area and substantia nigra are triggered when food and food-related visual cues are presented. When presented with food related stimuli, the orbitofrontal cortex and the amygdalae encode information linked to the reward value of food, while the insula processes information related to the taste of food. The nucleus accumbens and striatum regulate the motivational and incentive. Also, the nucleus accumbens and striatum regulate the motivational and incentive characteristics of food. They play an important role in the rewarding effect of food stimuli by...
References: De Castro, J. M., & Lilenfeld, L. R. R. (2005). Influence of heredity on dietary restraint, disinhibition, and perceived hunger in humans. Nutrition, 21(4), 446-55. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nut.2004.07.010
Ho A, Kennedy J, Dimitropoulos A (2012) Neural Correlates to Food-Related Behavior in Normal-Weight and Overweight/Obese Participants. PLoSONE 7(9): e45403. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0045403
Stroebe, W., van Koningsbruggen, G. M., Papies, E. K., & Aarts, H. (2013). Why most dieters fail but some succeed: A goal conflict model of eating behavior. Psychological Review, 120(1), 110-138. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0030849
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