Midlife Minute: Fatty Foods and Marijuana

What's the connection? I'll tell you in a minute. It's not what you might be thinking (probably that smoking marijuana makes you hungrier, right?). No, it's a lot more interesting than that—at least I think it is. Kind of explains why it's hard to resist fatty foods.

But first, a big congratulations to Roxanne Hawn, the winner of the Nightwave Sleep Assistant, who so unabashedly shared her weird ways of falling asleep.  I appreciate all your responses and feedback, I really do. But I chuckled out loud at Roxanne's description of her personal sleep strategy. I've never quite thought about it this way:

Well, this is going to sound really weird, but sometimes I curl up and pretend I'm inside an egg, like a protective bubble. And, OK...this one sounds even weirder, but I sometimes imagine that I unscrew the top of my head and put my brain in a bowl next to the bed...that works best when I cannot stop thinking about/worrying about something (aka monkey mind).

I hope you enjoy the Sleep Assistant, Roxanne, and it helps to keep your head screwed on!

And now, about that fatty food—and why you can't stop eating it once you start.

Recently, a new study found that eating more potato chips and French fries leads to a bigger weight gain over the years than eating other foods. I didn't bother writing about it, because I thought it was rather obvious, no?

But what wasn't so obvious is why people can't stop at just one potato chip or French fry or other fatty food.

That's obvious too, you may be thinking. It's because they taste so good. That may be part of it, but I just read about an actual study to try to get to the bottom of it and see why we're oftentimes rendered defenseless and driven to gluttony.

Turns out that when rats in this study were given something fatty, cells in their upper gut started producing substances called endocannabinoids—which were not produced when they ate sugars and proteins. Endocannabinoids are natural marijuana-like chemicals in the body.

From EurekAlert: "The process starts on the tongue, where fats in food generate a signal that travels first to the brain and then through a nerve bundle called the vagus to the intestines. There, the signal stimulates the production of endocannabinoids, which initiates a surge in cell signaling that prompts the wanton intake of fatty foods … probably by initiating the release of digestive chemicals linked to hunger and satiety that compel us to eat more."

No wonder willpower is such a tough thing to garner when faced with certain foods. Do you feel taunted and helpless against certain "bad" foods?

It may start with just a bite, but deep inside your body wicked forces are at work.

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