Yesterday we were talking about Fritos at work. Everyone in the OR loved Fritos. But most of us agreed that no matter how much we loved Fritos we don’t buy them.

I remember feeling frustrated and thinking, “I love Fritos but I can’t eat them!”

It felt frustrating because I was thinking, “I’m missing out on all the Fritos in life!” I felt angry, frustrated, cheated, and all the other emotions when I think I can’t have what I want when I want it!

By now I recognize this is my toddler primitive brain starting to have a tantrum.

This is how I visualize my primitive brain.

She was easy to ignore when I was in the OR because there was no opportunity to eat Fritos there.


But she came back to life as I drove home in Friday rush hour traffic. Each of the four times I passed a grocery store or Wawa she continued her tantrum screaming:

  • “It has been a long week, you deserve some Fritos!”
  • “Come on, you followed a good diet all week, you can Frito cheat this once!”
  • “This traffic is the worst, you need Frito food to make it home!”
  • “Get Fritos they will make you happy!”

I’m happy to report I did not get the Fritos. I kept answering each of her statements with, “Are Fritos healthy for me?” She answered, “NO!” but she is tenacious and kept coming up with all the other arguments that usually convinced me in the past to get the Fritos and eat them.

However, a new diet theory was also in my head during the Frito fight. New research is showing that processed foods actually make my primitive toddler brain stronger at convincing me to eat Frito type foods. Here is a quote from the Scientific American article:

“Eating large amounts of ultraprocessed foods may actually change brain circuitry in ways that increase sensitivity to food cues, adds Kent Berridge, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Michigan. He has shown this effect in rodents. “When you give rats junk-food diets, some gain weight, but others do not. In those that became obese, their dopamine systems changed, and they became hypersensitive to food cues—they became superfocused on that one reward. They showed no more pleasure, but they did show more wanting, and that wanting led to more actions—that is, more food-seeking behavior.”

I’m not a rat but I recognize this wanting and food-seeking behavior in myself. Yep, it’s what I do every time I overeat or eat off plan or off protocol.

This little critter lives in me but it is my choice to follow her advice or not.

As you make a choice about food listen to whose advice you are following. If the choice is in the moment, easy, pleasurable, or buffers uncomfortable emotions then the toddler primitive brain is ruling.

Tell her to go sit in the corner till she settles down!

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