Enjoy Brain Food – feel motivated & ditch your sugar-cravings!

Ilona Madden - RightFood4U - Nutrition Programmes - Bray Wicklow Dublin

Written by Ilona Madden

May 31, 2020

updated 26 Nov 2021

Despite the fact that some of the strict regulations of lock-down have been relaxed, a lot of people are still struggling to feel motivated to eat well and follow a healthy lifestyle.

Observing this and studying a lot over the past number of weeks, I think I have found a solution.

While I was studying Nutritional Therapy, I believed, all I need to do was to explain to my clients what is going on in the bodies, the root cause and what to do to “fix” it – and everyone would be happy.

However, I soon found out that many people struggle implementing the most basic tips despite knowing and understanding that their health and wellbeing is not going to improve unless they make those changes.

On the other hand, the major difference I noticed in myself was that I felt more energised and motivated, that I was less responsive in stressful situations and that my overall outlook in life had much improved!

Those changes in my brain were the ones that made me keep going! Those changes in my brain were the ones that gave me the energy and motivation to do more exercise.

Those changes in my brain allowed me to have better concentration which I needed to go back to college and study something as complex as biochemistry and anatomy of our bodies.

I have recently qualified as a Licenced practitioner of the  “Brain Health Programme” by Cytoplan which is based on the findings of Dr Dale Bredesen, who discovered a novel therapeutic approach to cognitive decline, and did a lot of scientific research on the reversal of Alzheimer’s. And I realised just how much our food and lifestyle actually do affect our brain health.

A healthy brain helps you find motivation, resilience and persistency that is required to stick to a healthier diet.

I found this confirmed by Dr Daniel G. Amen (“Change your brain – change your body”) who is a physician, psychiatrist and brain imaging specialist. He has written numerous books, done TV shows and has several clinics in the US. He can show on brain scans the correlation between people who are motivated to stick to diets and their actual diets.

Another really interesting read is the “Chimp Paradox” by Prof Steve Peters, a psychiatrist, who works with elite athletes. He explains how our emotional brain can hijack our logical brain.

This is exactly what is going on in so many people’s minds when they want to eat that biscuit, but know they shouldn’t.

It is a viscous cycle!

You need to eat well to be motivated to eat well.

It’s as simple as that!

And yet so difficult!

How do you break that cycle???

If you are not in the position to see the benefits of a better diet simply because your neurotransmitters in your brain aren’t firing properly, how are you ever going to get started?

You need to trick your brain!

You need to quieten and calm your “inner chimp” i.e. your “emotional brain” and you need to strengthen your “logical brain”.


  1. Set and Follow Strict Rules:

That’s why a lot of “diets” work well, because they have strict rules. They work even better when you are told by a doctor or authority to do so.

You can set your own rules, and this works for many. But initially, you are more likely to follow rules if someone else tells you. And that is why most people do better when they get support from an expert.

As a society, we need rules. People show anti-social behaviour have been found to have lower activity in their pre-frontal cortex of the brain. If your prefrontal cortex is strong and healthy, you are more likely to stick to rules and make better judgements.

  1. Plan

Set a definite date when you are going to start. Write down what you need to do. Plan your meals. Write a shopping list. Keep a journal to write down and analyse what is going through your head. This is increasing your activity in your prefrontal cortex and is calming down your emotional brain.

  1. Enjoy Brain Food

What exactly is brain food? It is food that nourishes your brain and gives it the nutrients that it needs to be stimulated and to function optimally.

One very powerful brain food for example are the Omega-3 fats, which you will find in oily fish and in nuts & seeds. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of diet advisors telling people to cut those out if you want to lose weight as these are high in calories.

What you are doing with this, is basically diminishing your willpower. And once you are “off” your “low-fat-diet”, you have lost your willpower and will stop eating well.

This is why the ketogenic diet and any diets high in good fats work so well.

There are plenty of other brain foods and herbs that can help you increase your willpower and strengthen your prefrontal cortex and your brain.

And it is equally important not to eat foods that are decreasing the activity in your prefrontal cortex.


In my “Enjoy Brain Food – Ditch Sugar Cravings in 7 days” programme, you will learn how our brains work and why you need to overwrite your emotional brain to make logical decisions. You will learn tips and tricks to plan ahead and create your own rules. And you will find out about what brain foods and lifestyle you can enjoy to fire up this prefrontal cortex that gets you motivated!

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