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E011 overcoming unconscious consumption

Did you know that people consume almost twice as much food and drink when they’re in a group of six or more? It happens for the same reason that we can mindlessly consume a bucket of popcorn at the movies or find ourselves having had one too many beers at the big game. We’re consuming unconsciously.

Of course, it doesn’t help the situation that we tend to reach for convenience foods when hunger strikes and many of those easy-to-grab, convenient-to-fix processed foods — the boxed stuff, the canned goods, the frozen dinners — are engineered to make you crave them, to keep you coming back for more and more more…long after your dietary needs have been met.

Another reason we tend to overconsume is that overconsumption of food and/or alcohol fires off the reward center of the brain. Plain and simple — it feels good. We get a dopamine high when we gorge.

But food and drink aren’t the only things that can give us that feel-good high. One of the keys to overcoming unconscious consumption is to train yourself to feel rewarded by achieving the healthy, good-for-you goals that you consciously set.

As someone who once weighed 300 pounds, I’m no stranger to unconscious consumption. I’ve been there, done that. And I’m living proof that by eating and drinking consciously, it’s possible to take control of your weight and your health.

In today’s episode, I share my personal relationship with food and alcohol and how it’s changed over time. I share what foods make me feel the best and which ones I typically avoid. I also share about my current practice of intermittent fasting, and we talk about how to make positive changes in the direction you want to take your health and why setting small, achievable goals is the key to creating feel-good, sustainable results.

And it all starts with awareness.

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Episode Transcript

Brenda:  Hey there. Welcome to Episode 11 of the Mind Revolution Podcast. I am your host, Brenda Terry. A big warm thank you to you for tuning in today. I’m recording this on a Sunday morning here in Reno, and let me tell you, spring is in the air. We had snow last week, and right now, outside it’s actually kind of warm. The sky is blue. Our grass is turning green, and there’s little buds of something that’s going to be sprouting here in the next few weeks. It is just gorgeous here.

So I hope that wherever you are, that things are just beautiful for you.

Today we’re going to talk about mastery. Now it’s not mastery as in we’re going to talk about how to master everything, but we’re going to shine a light on a process or a concept or this thing that people do that when we can identify and get it under control and begin to become very conscious of it, then I fully believe that this is going to help us achieve mastery when it comes to our minds and our bodies.

The other day, Ron and I were driving home from my office, and on my right, this big truck pulled up. And all around the truck had all these signs advertising some brand of tequila. And my knee-jerk reaction was mouth-salivating and memories of the bad ol’ days of consuming stuff for consumption’s sake at events or birthday parties, family barbecues — you name it — anywhere where we got together. And I smiled, and it was a little melancholy just as a thought of that stuff, because in my family and in my Mexican culture, eating and/or drinking to excess is what one does when two or more gather.

And then I remembered this time that Ron and I went to a Colts-Raider game. We drove to Oakland because Ron is a Colts fan and now I’m definitely a Colts fan. They were here, or locally “here,” four hours away, so we drove there. And that’s a gathering at a larger scale. And yet, that dynamic was very similar.

So in my family, my culture, gathering in the family and the clan is really important to us. So we celebrate everything. And so that dynamic that happens at gatherings — and I’m not just saying my Mexican family. You see it at barbecues everywhere. I happen to be Mexican, and so for me, this is what I grew up with. Your experience may be a little bit different. But for me, gathering at a party meant a lot of food, sometimes a lot of alcohol, and usually not feeling well the next day. That’s what that was for me.

When we got to this game, that was very much a similar dynamic. Colts fan is driving to Oakland to the Raiders game. And you had the people who were the Raiders in their black and gray shirts, and you had the Colts blue on the other side. And sometimes we were kind of sitting together. And there was definitely a sense of gathering. You had all the tailgating and all that other stuff going on.

So the game was at 1:00, and Ron and I were early and noticed the usual people at concession stands, walking down to their seats with beer and nachos in hand. And then the game started. Ron and I were sitting there holding our bottles of water, and we noticed that people in front of us and around us were drinking tons of alcohol — like a lot of beer — and eating all kinds of stadium food.

And by halftime, a lot of people around us were pretty drunk, and some were even passed out. And then they were to that dessert portion of whatever stadium food is — things like funnel cakes and piles and piles of sugar.

And to me, it was so, so, so interesting what was all that about. That was really my question. I found it interesting because I thought, my gosh, I remembered when I used to do stuff like that, and I used to think if I go to a ballgame, I’ve got to have a beer, and I’ve got to have stadium popcorn or the nachos or whatever that was.

And over time, that has changed for me only because I just have become more aware of what those patterns do, not only to the behavioral part but also to the body. So now my take on food and gathering is just different.

And as you may already know, overconsumption of food and/or alcohol fires off the reward center of the brain. And when we do that often enough, that overloads our dopamine receptors making us need more and more of the stuff we’re consuming to feel the same or a very similar effect. And dopamine, by the way, is a neurotransmitter. So it’s a chemical that causes those fantastic feelings of euphoria and bliss and motivation and concentration. And when we burn out those receptors, those good feeling go with them, or at least they decrease a bunch.

And when dopamine levels are deficient, they lead to things like decreased motivation and procrastination and mood swings and feelings of hopelessness and poor memory and addiction to stimulants and compulsive, destructive behavior and waking and overall depressive symptoms. And that’s just to name a few, because the list of what happens when dopamine levels are deficient is quite long.

Just having that little bit of information, do you think that any of those things would adversely affect how you achieve your goals or make things happen for yourself or have the quality of life that you want? And the answer is a heck, yes, it does. I mean, this is huge.

And I’m here to tell you that I fully believe that people are doing the best they can with the resources they have in the moment. So this is not about beating ourselves up. This is about becoming aware and just having a higher consciousness viewpoint from the perspective of what we’re doing on a day-to-day basis.

So we’re consuming for consumption’s sake, and we think that it’s for consumption’s sake. But in reality, what’s happening is that the biological need that stems out of firing that reward center in the brain can affect so much of what we do. And that makes sense. Right? Because it feels good. It feels good, so we do it again. We’re just conditioned for that response. It’s the whole reward-pleasure component. And who isn’t motivated by reward and pleasure? That’s why this is so important to keep aware of how it is that we access that reward center in the brain, because there’s things that we can do about that. And it’s really important that we know about it so that we can then make changes that are going to benefit us as opposed to doing it by taking action that doesn’t help us, whether by the things that we’re eating or doing or drinking. 

The other thing is that we’re also heavily influenced by social cues. I don’t know if you know this, but people consume almost twice as much food and drink when we’re in a group of six or more. That was so evident at this football game. People were eating and drinking completely unconsciously. From the outside — me seeing them, not knowing what they were thinking — they behaved as if they were, in that moment, overtaken by the impulse to drink and eat and drink and eat. There appeared to be little to no consideration for the wellbeing of their bodies or their minds or how they were going to feel the next day.

And I remember when I used to do stuff like that. I remember Super Bowl parties and boxing match parties and family barbecues where just about all of us ate and drank until we couldn’t eat and drink anymore, and it was fun for as long as the fun lasted. Because the real physical and emotional reaction is always on the other side of those moments of unconscious consumption when we’re just kind of eating, and we’re in the moment and having a really good time. And we’re not really thinking about what’s going to happen the next day.

So there’s always going to be a consequence to our action. That over-consumption — and it happens so unconsciously because in that moment we’re taking the social cues, we’re in the group, we’re feeling good, the reward center is firing off and firing off, so it makes sense. It’s a logical thing that you’re going to want to keep doing it. I did. That’s how that worked for me.

So then there’s all that. But then on the other side, there’s the unconscious mind recording and cataloging our human experience — our behaviors, our thoughts, our beliefs, and our emotions. Because the unconscious mind takes in the two million bits of information per second, and, for that reason, it also integrates those subtle social cues that compel us to take action based on however we’ve been conditioned — however we were raised, the values that were instilled, the beliefs that we formed as a result. And that conditioning, whether or not the resulting action is good for us, is integrated into the unconscious mind. And so, as a result, once you get those social cues, if those social cues align with how you were raised and the values that you grew up with and the beliefs that you have created around those values, then you’re going to behave accordingly. 

That’s what happens.

So remember, the unconscious mind is totally neutral. It’s simply takes direction from our conscious mind based on our focus. Then it records information and uses repeated actions to form habits. And habits, when practiced, become harder and harder to break.

So we talked about how all learning behavior and change is unconscious. So practiced behavior just becomes habits, and they do become very unconscious. And so when those habits include undeniable physical reactions, well, this is when we can fall into cycles made up of really high highs and really low lows with the lows becoming more pronounced over time because of that dopamine deficiency that happens.

This is why it’s so critical to wake up and become aware of our own conditioning. Something to think about.

Just a few things for you to ponder…

Are you someone who has to have a drink with dinner? I used to be. Not every dinner but often dinner.

Do you numb your emotions with food, alcohol, or other mind-altering substances? And sometimes, that could even be numbing out in front of the television or on social media.

Is your sweet tooth problematic? Are you someone who has to have sugar?

And when you’re in a crowd, do you do things you wouldn’t do if you were by yourself? That’s a good one to watch out for.

If any of this sounds like you, I’m not telling you to do something about any of those things. I’m simply suggesting that you begin to take notice.

When I did the work on myself, when I had my personal breakthroughs through the work of NLP and Time Line Therapy® and Hypnosis, one of the things that I did is that I changed the value of health, for me, to become that number one value. There’s an exercise in NLP that we use for changing values and hierarchy, and my health value was way lower in the hierarchy, and therefore, unconsciously, I wasn’t really paying attention to my health.

So I made the change. Now it’s number one. And I notice that while, yes, I had developed habits that were cycles of behavior that affected my weight and my mindset and my emotional state, I did notice that. But when I also noticed how certain foods made me feel certain ways. And I hadn’t really paid attention to that. I really thought that I just had a food addiction when I weighed 300 pounds, that it was a food addiction and it was all psychological, and it had nothing to do with what I was eating.

Well, I have proven that to be absolutely B.S., because that’s not the case. I noticed it for myself that when I eat unprocessed, natural foods — so things that don’t come in a box or in a can — that I feel really good when I eat them. When I eat a lot of veggies that are fresh and organic, and when I eat really good quality meats, then I feel really good. When I limit dairy, I feel really, really good.

Now, processed foods always felt awful to me. I don’t know if you knew, but mac and cheese and Cheez-It crackers and hot dogs are banned in other countries. There’s a long list of components that are in that stuff that other countries consider to be inedible.

And also, things like hamburger buns and hot dog buns, because that nice, fluffy elasticity to them, there’s something in there that’s proven, in other countries, to be really unhealthful for us. And yet here, we’re consuming it all the time. 

Whenever we see Oreos, Ron takes of cocaine because there’s been so many studies that say that Oreos fire off the brain in exactly the same fashion that cocaine does. They’re highly, highly addictive.

And by the way, do you think that processed-food manufacturers are aware of the effects for us when we consume their products? Yes, they are. And you can read all about that in the ever-addicted, known as “the bliss point” in Salt, Sugar, Fat by Michael Moss. It’s a great read. To me, it opened my eyes completely. And when I read it, I stopped eating processed foods, period, and stopped going to fast-food restaurants.

So in the process of me becoming aware of what this did… Because remember, once you know something, you can’t pretend that you don’t know it. You can kind of try to pretend, but you know it already. So once I learned this, there was no way that I could go back to have processed foods in the same way. And there are moments, though, when I do. And I feel the chemical reaction immediately.

So in the process of doing all of this work, I eliminated the vast majority of processed foods. And now, I may have some every once in a while, but really, more and more, less and less that I have these foods. So the more time passes, the less that I have these foods.

And next step for me was to drastically reduce starches like grains and pasta, bread, rice, potatoes. I gave up oatmeal. And the moment I did that, I noticed how the inflammation in my body just started going away.

So this is what I did. And then it was cutting down the wine a glass or two per week, as opposed to what it used to be which was a glass or two two to three times per week. And I used to love wine. I used to love it. But you know what? I never felt good the next day. And I felt that inflammatory response. It was almost immediate. And now studies show that no level of alcohol is good for us at all. So having the red wine because of all the components, you can simply get that by taking supplements or doing other things to bring that into your body. So we like to think that stuff is good for us when in reality, it isn’t. But that’s only because that’s what we’ve been fed by commercials and studies and whatever else. But in reality, who was behind all that stuff? It’s not going to be people who are going to be really looking out for our health, really. That is really my opinion.

So after I did all of that, then I became really interested in intermittent fasting. And so I tried it. I tried it, and I started, and at first, it was really hard to go from 12 hours to 16 hours to 20 hours to 24 hours. And now I generally fast for 22 to 24 hours. And some days, I go up to 48 hours and usually consume just one meal a day.

And so the result of all of that, for me, was clarity, balanced hormones — thank you very much — improved vision, a faster response time, improved memory. And it became very evident to me, after doing all of that, that, yes, behavior definitely affects our outcomes. And the biological, neurological reaction to the food and alcohol we consume also affects our outcomes. And it makes sense. It’s logical.

Because, besides the physical reaction, and as a result of the physical reaction, what we consume will affect our thoughts which then affects our emotions, our beliefs, and our values. And all of this creates internal representations.

So here we’re engaging the unconscious mind again. Those internal representations then create corresponding states, physiology, and behavior. And as we talked about in episode 2, our behavior controls our results.

So you don’t have to any of the things that I do or did. All I can tell is that I just became consciously aware of what I was putting in my body. And when I did, everything changed. It was the veil lifting for myself. From there, I was able to then do things to positively affect the way my body functions, the way my mind functions, the way that I can do life, the way that I can do my work.

And so this is my invitation to you to engage in consumption behaviors that will create thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and values that are positive and good for you.

And you can find different ways. This is the thing that we’re not taught. You can find different positive ways to get that dopamine-pleasure response that we want. And one way to do it is to set really small and really frequent goals around your health that will incrementally get you to where you want to be.

So this is not about you taking your life and turning it upside-down in order to make all these changes. Not at all. This is about you taking small steps that you can measure. Measurable steps.

One way to do that is to set small and frequent goals around your health that will incrementally get you to where you want to be. Because in the process of setting and achieving small goals, this allows the brain to experience frequent recognition of your incremental progress. So it allows that reward center to fire. And this is how you begin to create those results again and how you can create that feel-good feeling.

So you can create challenges around exercise. And you can create goals around nutrition. And you can change your eating habits just a little bit. You can create a healthy routine. This is so important.

When you create a healthy routine and you stick to it and you follow it, every time you take one of the components and you accomplish it, then you’re again allowing that reward center to fire because you know that you’ve achieved that goal. This is where that work is.

Change work while using NLP and all the techniques in Time Line Therapy® can happen very quickly. And I can support my clients in creating that neurology. And yet, they still have to go and implement what they’ve learned. And life changes as a result of that.

For me, all I had to do was research, because the research today completely contradicts all the information that we’ve been fed. Who said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? Really, who said that? This is why it’s so important to question. There’s no real research that says that. This is why it’s important to begin thinking critically and question the things that we’re being told.

I had a client who asked me how I relax if I don’t do any of the things that I used to do. How is it that I relax? To be really clear, I still do some of the things that I used to do, just not very often. And when I do, I know that it’s all about me making the choice. And usually, if you were to engage in behavior that I engaged in before, it’s now at a very minimal level. For example, going to places where there’s food and alcohol, and I can just sit there with my bottle of water now. And I know it sounds kind of strange to some people that I can say that I can be there with my bottle of water and have a great time. And I don’t need to consume anything. I can just sit there and watch people and engage with them and get to know them, remember everything the next day, and feel really good about it. And then is how relaxation happens now for me.

So the junk food is gone. I get really good quality sleep. I eat really high-quality food, very little now because I mostly fast. I’ve really limited my alcohol consumption. If I drink wine, usually it’s organic wine and no additives on there, and it really feels… I can feel the difference in my body when I do.

I’m setting and getting my goals. And all of these things together do wonders for my state. I’m just generally in this relaxed space now. And it has everything to do with that conscious awareness. And we talked about this before in terms of mastery and what it means to master ourselves. That if we can do these three things, then we can master any component of our lives.

And that is, mastery over our relationships. So learning how to do relationships really, really well. Mastery over our finances, and that includes career, and to some people, it doesn’t include career. But really master of finances, because that’s something that we have to contend with every single day. And then mastery of our body.

When we can do these three things, then we’re going to have the resources, the learnings, the information, the blueprint to master just about anything.

In last week’s episode, we talked about achieving big goals and how for most of us, when we have a challenge achieving a big goal, it’s because we haven’t designed a blueprint neurologically for that big goal. But once you have that blueprint, then you can then reinforce it and strengthen it. And then you’re just going to duplicate efforts moving forward for other big goals. It’s the same concept here.

I love, for example, now, I love to challenge myself. One of the next things I’m doing is I’m going to be doing a three or four day fast. I haven’t done that in years. But I just want to know that I can do it. When I went from 24 hours to 36 hours in a fast, I really thought I was going to die because I just was starving. Of course, there’s food in the fridge. I was going to be fine. But in that moment, it was really cool to have that biological and psychological reaction and push through it. And then on the other side, I felt fine, and I felt great after I did that because I knew that my body was then being compelled, because there was no food coming in, to start cleaning out my system and cleaning out my organs and getting rid of stuff that I don’t need that’s within my body.

So it was really cool to see that I could do it. I just challenge myself, and it was really fun to complete the challenge.

It’s the same thing when I went from staying up very late to going to sleep early and what that did for my body and making that a challenge, making it a goal for myself to do that.

When I decided to stop eating processed carbohydrates, again, a challenge. And it felt really good. So I really was a shift in the mind as to how I accomplished these things. It was really important for me to make it fun. It was really important for me to make it, yes, challenging and that there was a reward on the other side. And the reward for me was a sense of accomplishment. Just one thing at a time.

I didn’t turn my life upside-down. I implemented these changes over probably a good year or two, because I know what my limits are for pushing myself from the growth zone to the danger zone. And I know at what point my knee-jerk reaction is going to be to sabotage.

And so I stay within the limits of me pushing myself and yet still accomplishing the things that I want to accomplish in anything that I do. And so I’m just encouraging you to find out more. If there’s something happening in your life, if you find yourself consuming stuff unconsciously for the sake of consuming or because you’re in a crowd or because you’re having feelings and you’re numbing them out with food or with alcohol or with anything else, then I encourage you to take a look and just become aware. That’s it. Just become aware of what’s going on.

And then take notice and do some research. There’s a lot of research out there on how to get those dopamine levels higher so that we feel good. For example, for me, when I found out about Tyrosine and what a powerful amino acid that is, it changed everything. When I learned about glutamine and its power to curtail carbohydrate cravings, that was a powerful thing for me. When I learned about Gaba and its effects, that was powerful and empowering.

We have done so much to our brains, chemically, based on the foods that we eat. We don’t eat the way that we ate when food was natural. So much of what we do is now about convenience and eating the thing that is in the aisle in a box or the frozen dinner or the stuff that you can just put in your mouth and call it food. 

Well, in reality, shortcuts, when it comes to our bodies, can come at a high price. This is why it’s so important. It isn’t that you can’t control what you eat, if that’s what you’re thinking. It’s that some process food is really created to compel us to eat more and more and more of it. And as you’re doing that, we’re doing things to our brain that cause us to want more and more of it. And so it’s all very logical if you look at it from the perspective of research and what’s really out there and what’s really happening.

So what they episode is about is about you taking control of your health, you taking control over your behavior when it comes to consuming food, alcohol, or any other substance that’s going to affect your dopamine levels and how you can create those levels doing other things.

This is ultimately about awareness.

I had been thinking about recording this episode, and I was concerned, because I’m not a doctor, and I’m not someone who can tell you what it is that’s going to work for you. I’m telling you what worked for me.

My concern was that it may be received in a way that is not intended. My reason for putting this out there for you is just to help you become aware — that’s all — and take a close look at what you’re doing and seeing if what you’re doing is supporting your desired outcomes, because everything I do is about your desired outcomes. The whole purpose of this podcast is to help people achieve their desired outcomes. And if you’re doing things that don’t feel good to you after you do them, then in that moment, you’re creating a pattern for not achieving what you want in the way that you want it.

That’s what this is all about. I really hope that you find some value in here so that you can take action in the direction of what you want when it comes to your health. And that when you’re in a group and people are doing stuff that you can see would not benefit you, that you can choose to opt out. Not that you’re going to get sucked in unconsciously. You can still participate, but make the decision and make a conscious choice to do so, not the way that we are now doing things a lot of the time, which is pretty darn unconsciously.

You can learn to feel good in different ways. It’s just going to take some time, because it is all about shifting that momentum in that direction. So much of this is about creating momentum in another direction, which means that at first, it’s hard because you’re going pretty steadily in a direction, and then you have to shift gears and then change directions. And in that process of shifting gears, you are then going to go against the current for a bit. But on the other side of that is going to be more of what you want. And this is all about you having more of what you want.

So I hope that you found this useful and helpful. That is all I have for you today. As always, I’m going to ask you to visit MindRevolutionPodcast.com to access the show notes. And leave us your suggestions, your questions, your comments so that we can create episode around what you want to talk about. I’m also going to ask you to subscribe and review the podcast so that the podcast can grow. Your reviews, your feedback, your subscription really help us to know that we’re headed in the right direction.

So my wish for you is that from now until we meet again that you have a fabulous week, that you’re making really good conscious choices and that on the other side of that, you feel amazing.

Thanks for listening to the Mind Revolution Podcast with me, Brenda Terry. Be sure to visit MindRevolutionPodcast.com to join the conversation, access the show notes, and discover our fab bonus content. Stay positive until next time.

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I'm Brenda Terry. I'm a personal development trainer and master coach who works with go-getters like you who want to achieve big results in your business and personal life.

If you're excited and ready to play bigger in business and kill it in life, I help you identify and change beliefs, patterns, and behaviors that aren't supporting your goals so you can make more money, find more joy, better manage relationships, and communicate more effectively.
I'm here to help you make the powerful, effective shifts you're craving- faster than you ever thought possible.

Learn how we can work together here.

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