An area of your brain called the habenula has a huge role to play when it comes to weight loss, commonly referred to as the motivational switch. Did you know that the longer we carry a specific weight on our body the more it is recognised as the ‘set point’ by our brains? When you start to lose weight, your brain will begin to try to sabotage your efforts in an attempt to get you back to what it views as normal. Understanding this biological mechanism and how it is impacted during your weight loss journey may help you to manage it and your expectations.
Habenula is Latin for ‘little rein’, and tackles everything from the way our brain responds to reward, pain, anxiety, and stress. For example, if you set strict and specific goals for your weight and do not reach it, your habenula is likely to kick in and demotivate you. The more this happens, the more ready the habenula is ready to kick in and try to shut down the behaviour that is leading to disappointment.
Restrictive dieting is also understood to stimulate the habenula. This method of dieting produces stress hormones because your ‘set point’ of weight is being threatened. This will lead to your brain making you less responsive to healthy decision-making, forcing you into behaviours that it recognizes as comfortable in order to regain weight. One way to bypass this would be to artificially create the feeling to satiation when it comes to the amount of food you eat.
This is why the gastric balloon, gastric sleeve, and gastric bypass are such successful medical weight loss treatments. By occupying / reducing the available area in the stomach, you get full quicker and suppress the amount of ghrelin (the hunger hormone) that is being produced. This will leave you free to make those necessary long-term habit changes that are so essential when it comes to sustaining weight loss over the years.
Making sure the habenula doesn’t completely derail your progress is about making your brain as comfortable as possible with the weight you are losing. One way of doing this is by not giving up everything you love, meaning that you can still trigger the reward pathways necessary to avoid the habenula hitting the ‘kill switch’ on your motivation. Again, a great way of making this possible is with a gastric sleeve.
You can also try starting simple and building your habit changes slowly. This gradual introduction will come as less of a shock to your system, allowing your mind to incorporate and adjust to these changes at a good pace. Make sure to stay flexible, and look at habit changes as things you can tweak over time at a temperature that is sensible for you. Don’t get disheartened if one thing doesn’t work.
Stress management is also incredibly important. Make sure to get a sufficient amount of sleep, involve yourself in physical activity, and focus on healthy behaviours.
Top tip: protein is a fantastic source of nutrients and actually leaves us feeling fuller for longer than other food types. By incorporating high levels of protein into our diet we can maximise that feeling of satiation, leading to more weight loss – this is especially useful with a gastric balloon in place.
Speak to a Patient Advisor
Allure Weightloss is a CQC registered provider of gastric balloons, the gastric sleeve, and the gastric bypass in the UK. Speak to a medical weight loss expert today to fully discuss options available to you and the support that we can offer. Call now on 0345 512 0094, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or use our enquiry portal.