Food + Dopamine



Pancake Tuesday got moved to Thursday this week due to the late night on Monday. I had completely forgotten about them, but Matt was busy in the kitchen when I got up:) These were extra special because there were chocolate chips hiding under that peanut butter.


What a fabulous way to start the day.

Today flew by because I left school to attend a fascinating lunch lecture on food addiction at the local community health center. I was surprised to find out that food addiction is an area that is just beginning to be explored and it is not formally recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental disorders (although it could be diagnosed under Eating Disorders – not otherwise specified). The lecturer presented the results of one study involving rats and food that I found particularly interesting. Rats were given free (unlimited) access to fruit loops (high sugar) and cheetos (high fat) and their dopamine levels were measured when they indulged. The researchers found that dopamine spiked (signifying a reward) when the rats initially ate either of the snacks, but that dopamine leveled off and the rats learned to maintain their weight over time by controlling their intake at each “meal.” However, when rats were deprived of any food for 12 hour periods, they ate as much as they possibly could when they were allowed to have fruit loops or cheetos again and then they continued to overeat at each subsequent meal, leading to weight gain over time. In addition, dopamine levels spiked when the rats first indulged after the deprivation period, but dopamine did NOT level off with each meal like it did when the rats were not deprived, suggesting that the ‘binge’ eating behavior was rewarding to the rats.

Moral of the story: eat incredible real foods (read: whole wheat pancakes with pb and banana and sometimes choc chips) in moderation and don’t deprive yourself!  But you already knew that:)

Dinner was orange tonight in celebration the upcoming holiday. (PS – does anyone have any costume ideas for me?)


I had a potato veggie burger with avocado, cheddar, and banana pepper on an habanero wrap with sweet potato fries.

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I ate pretty early because I had to head out the door to walk to babysitting.


I watched the little guys from this summer, and they were not too happy to see me. The older one went berserk when his Mom left and spent a good half an hour crying before he finally calmed down:(

I just got home and had a bowl of cereal and I’m hoping to get to bed early. Tomorrow, three college friends arrive, and one more is joining us on Saturday.  I.cant.wait. to see them!!!!
  • Lauren
    October 22, 2010 at 6:49 am

    Yes, delicious food in moderation is the key to life. Imagine a world without Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pancakes. That’s just wrong! 🙂

    Have fun this weekend girl!!

  • Shannon
    October 22, 2010 at 8:32 am

    Habanero wraps? I MUST get those. Where are they from?!

    • Laura
      October 22, 2010 at 8:33 am

      Trader Joe’s!

  • Nicole (Please Don't Weigh Me at the Zoo)
    October 22, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    Not a bad walk! Beautiful city. 🙂

    Good stuff about food addiction…I’m a psychiatrist and I firmly believe that they should add food addiction to the new version of the DSM that’s coming out soon. And I hope they will! Eating Disorder NOS has become a HUGE diagnosis with a bunch of behaviors just lumped in there…time to start clarifying things, I say.

    Interesting stuff! Great post. 🙂