Why is Breaking Bad Habits So Hard?

In the last article, we went into depth about how to implement new habits and embrace positive changes. One can’t work without the other, this is why we are going to turn our focus onto those pesky bad habits that feel so impossible to let go of.

The truth is that no one wants to be unhealthy. No one wakes up and says, ‘I want to make my body sick and I want to feel horrible forever.’ 

So why do so many people continue to abuse alcohol, eat a terrible diet, and puff on their vape with every other breath? 

Why are bad habits so incredibly difficult to break?

We’re all addicts

A bold statement, but when it comes to bad habits, this is absolutely true. The science is easy to understand. Let’s look at sugar as an example. When we eat sweet foods or foods that are high in sugar, our brain’s reward system lights up like a Christmas tree. All of those feel-good chemicals like dopamine tell our brains that eating sugar is a good thing and we should continue to do it. 

This is where the tub of ice cream post-breakup imagery comes from. Sugar gives us a nice boost, but over time, it wreaks havoc on the body. While we know this, we can’t let it go. Because we are addicted to it. 

Sugar, alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, and fried foods (to name a few) illicit the same chemical cocktail in our brains. The reward system lights up with that first sip, that first drag, that first bite. If these things are so bad for us, why do our brains reward us for them?

Conditioning and history

We are naturally wired to remember things that have brought us pleasure. This helps the brain recognize what is good and what is bad. When you see or taste something that elicited a past reward, your brand shoots out that dopamine at higher levels: past experiences and conditioning impact what your brain considers a reward.

Let’s look at sugar again. If the very first time you ever tried sugar, it made you feel nauseous and sick, your brain would probably not recognize that ‘treat’ as a positive thing. Instead, your alarm bells would ring, and staying away from sugar wouldn’t be so difficult. 

The problem is that the first time you ate sugar, your brain sent a tidal wave of dopamine to your receptors, and now, every time that you see that sweet treat, you remember how good it made you feel to eat it and not how bad it’s going to make you feel in the long run.

Hijack your reward system.

Breaking bad habits isn’t easy, but it is possible. The trick is to hijack your brain’s reward system. Exercise is a great way to get the same dopamine rush that you would from sugar, but it’s going to take more work than it would to unwrap that candy bar.

If you want to learn more about how to implement good habits into your daily life, check out our last blog. 

Are you ready to take the next step in your health journey? It’s time to put a magnifying glass on the foods that you eat every day. No, we aren’t talking about a new fad diet. We’re talking about a food sensitivity test that can determine what foods aren’t agreeing with your body, no matter how subtle the symptoms. 

Our Bloodprint panels give you peace of mind, and a medically backed elimination diet can help you break those bad eating habits once and for all. Contact us to learn more today!

Have Questions?