Why We Make Unhealthy Choices

Written by
Michael Wells

Why We Make Unhealthy Choices

Written by
Michael Wells

Why We Make Unhealthy Choices

Written by
Michael Wells
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Do you know what this is?

Meet your pesky best friend, dopamine.  

Dopamine is the hormone that motivates you to pursue useful biological actions, like eating when you’re not hungry, or having sex to make more humans.

It feels good.

It feels damn good.

Sometimes, it feels too damn good.

In caveman life, dopamine was occasionally triggered, when you stumbled across a giant coconut tree, or you spotted that hot neighbor twerking by the waterfall.  

Today however, we’ve managed to create a world where your dopamine is constantly hit.

Every piece of advertising that has a juicy hamburger, or a sexy model, or a big pile of money… dopamine.

Every slot machine, lottery ticket, and “instant win” promotion… dopamine.

Every high-sugar and high-caffeine drink or food… dopamine.

Video games?  Porn? Cigarettes? Alcohol? Buffet restaurants? Top offenders on dopamine.

When your dopamine levels are continually high, you essentially become psychologically addicted to it. At the same time, your dopamine receptors desensitize to it.

The end result? You now have to do much more of the unhealthy things, plus other unhealthy things, to create that lovely dopamine hit, just to feel “normal”.

Here’s what that looks like…  

Yes, I’ve over-simplified things quite a bit. There is a lot of complexity, and other hormones and factors that are well worth studying and understanding better. 

But you can see the problem.

So what can you do about this?

This is your modern reality. Your neurotransmitters are being manipulated aggressively, usually by marketers and product designers for the purpose of making a buck.

All that sugar in your food. All that sex in the ads you see, that make you "need" those new jeans. Do I even need to mention casinos? They are a palace built in honor of dopamine.

Quite literally, the only thing you can do from this is to take an aggressive zero-tolerance stance on self-responsibility. You choose what goes into your brain, and your body.

Things you can strictly manage in your physical consumption;

  • sugar
  • overeating
  • nicotine
  • alcohol
  • caffeine

Things you can strictly manage in your mental consumption;

  • porn and other overly sexual content
  • gambling
  • video games
  • Facebook & social media, including tinder, & instant messaging

Holy crap!

Yep, I am fully aware how extreme this sounds - and let me be clear -  I like pleasure as much as the next guy, whether it's hot sex or a nice whisky. And I consume ridiculous amounts of coffee. BUT, I am also mindful of how it impacts me and where it can lead if it goes uncontrolled.

Here's my personal approach; take from it what you like.

  1. The sex must be real. No porn.
  2. Minimize sugar, make it a special treat.
  3. Avoid late night eating. I do Intermittent Fasting (IF) so my eating window closes at 8pm, which helps me curtail those binge tendencies.
  4. Watch the coffee. Make certain to drink liters of water to flush out the caffeine.
  5. Watch the video games.

Continually watch, reflect, & learn about your weaknesses. Learn which things can easily cause your dopamine levels to rocket out of control. 

At the same time, watch out for dopamine transference, which is a term that I use to describe the brains tendency to replace one dopamine source for another. You've probably heard of people quitting cigarettes, and then gaining weight- this is a prime example. The brain wasn't getting the dopamine from cigarettes any more so it began demanding junk food.

You'll likely see this as well, so simply be aware of your cravings, and learn to manage them. Once your dopamine returns to normal levels, and your brain adjusts to those new levels, you'll be in good shape.

In the end, only you can create the life you want for yourself. Don't waste your life by sabotaging your brain's natural motivation center.
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First published on 
. Last updated on 
October 27, 2017

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