We see it all the time—women able to eat whatever they want and hardly gain weight. I asked dieting expert, Dilia Suriel, “What is different about a naturally thin women in terms of their attitudes toward food?” The answers I received were unexpected.
I anticipated answers about the way women think about food, their willpower tricks, their psychology of food or their continual need to saturate their bodies with water to curb their hungry.
What Dilia Suriel, author of “The Thin Woman’s Brain” said, shocked me. She stated, “The difference is biological. A naturally thin woman’s brain, while eating, generates higher levels of dopamine, compared to a woman with a food-obsessed brain.”
A normal brain contains a healthy amount of dopamine, whereas, an obese brain has faint traces of dopamine. Furthermore, the brain generates dopamine during food fantasies that occur multiple times in a food-obsessed brain—this isn’t the case with a naturally thin women’s brain, as they don’t experience food fantasies.
Food isn’t the primary source of dopamine for a naturally thin woman, but it is for a food-obsessed woman. The differences between an obese and thin woman’s brain is backed by scientific study. These brain differences fuel what is perceived as altered attitudes. To fully understand this biological paradigm, we must understand the attitudes to eating:
- For naturally thin women, food is a pleasurable experience but it isn’t for a food-obsessed brain
- For naturally thin women, food is not THE principal source of pleasure (e.g., dopamine source)
- The food-obsessed brain experiences food fantasies that overpower the cons of overeating, leading to compulsive overeating episodes, similar to drug addiction
- Women who are food-obsessed have a higher food tolerance than naturally thin women, and consequently must eat larger amounts to reach their dopamine fix
The Thin Woman’s Brain documents what is widely known in the scientific community, explaining these attitudinal differences at a biological level.
When I asked Ms. Suriel her top five tips for those who want to lose weight, she said:
- Start by taking the Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS) assessment on Ms. Suriel’s website
- Work toward restoring brain health
- Focus on ending food-obsession and re-learning how to eat non-compulsively. However, the specific process will depend on your YFAS score. “The Thin Woman’s Brain” book, audio book and APP are resources, but countless other in-house programs and therapists who specialize in helping people with this issue are available.
- Stress and poor sleep patterns deplete dopamine, in turn increasing our drive to overeat in an effort to restore a healthy dopamine flow. Invest in practices that allow you to manage poor sleeping patterns and stress levels of modern life.
- If you have a healthy YFAS score, I highly recommend staying away from diets as a means of losing weight. Diets are the number one cause of food-obsession and weight gain. Instead, learn how to eat mindfully, which for most of us means finding a happy balance.
Out of 50,000 generations of humanity, only the last three adopted the dieting concept as the preferred method of weight-loss. What scientists are now documenting in the obesity epidemic, are consequences of this well-intended, but failed experiment. Is it time to revisit our assumptions dieting and will power are the best way to lose weight?