You might be wondering what is this brain training that helped me avoid eating cookies last week (and where the heck can you sign up?!)
Emotional Brain Training is a program developed at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) that is based on research from neuroscience, stress science and psychology. It teaches a set of skills that targets our emotional brain.
photo source: Mellin, Laurel: Wired for Joy, 2010.
The emotional brain is made up of the lower two areas of the brain: the mammalian brain and the reptilian brain: (more on these next week). It is the center of our emotional connections and our pleasure drives, and manages how we process daily life.
When the emotional brain is in balance, everything improves – thoughts, feelings, relationships, behavior and health. This means we feel happy, satisfied, focused, energized and it is easy to make the ‘right’ decisions about food and life.
However if the emotional brain is not in balance, everything changes and our thoughts, feelings and behavior become more extreme, often impacting our health and happiness. This is where emotional, mindless or stress eating comes into play.
Eating in response to a stressful event, pushes the emotional brain further from balance and actually changes the brain chemistry to increase the drive to overeat. The more we eat, the easier it is to trigger the unbalanced brain state, which triggers us to eat and the cycle continues. By practicing Emotional Brain Training, you can learn tools to process stress effectively, rewire the triggers that drive you to overeat and improve your brain’s emotional set point. This means that the drive to overeat fades and you are less likely to ‘fall of the wagon’ in the future.
EBT Brain Tip – It is impossible for your emotional brain to be in a stress state and in balance at the same time. Therefore make a list of things that you can do that are relaxing, bring you joy and make you smile. Next time you feel overwhelmed, stressed or numb – practice changing your brain state by trying something on the list. (FYI eating cookies shouldn’t be on that list!)