Yes, Journaling

The text on the BrainWeighve screen titled “Brain Hunger” (shown above) says,

Energy builds up in your brain to do something… This energy overflows and your brain re-channels the overflow energy into another behavior like nail biting or overeating… This re-channeling can temporarily calm your distress, but it doesn’t solve the underlying situation.

One reason why success is only partial is the brain’s elasticity. If you don’t remind it frequently that you want it to adopt new ways, it tends to relapse into its accustomed state. In writing about obesity and the brain, previously quoted source Dan Hurley consulted neurosurgeon Donald M. Whiting, who said,

The brain is really pretty smart. It tends to want to reboot to factory settings whenever it can. We find that we can reset things for a week or two, but then the brain gets back to where it wants.

As we have seen, the “factory settings” around food are 1) eat whenever you have a chance because you don’t know when you will find food again, and 2) retain every ounce of body fat that you are able to, because you need it to produce energy, and the nights are cold. These default instructions date back two or three hundred thousand years. But while in the modern world many people are still severely undernourished, those two prime directives are definitely harmful to most humans. The ancient imperatives need to be reformulated. But how?

A tried-and-true technique

What is a channel? A canal, a path of distribution, a passageway, a means of access. Like a creek bed, it’s etched or carved into the surface of the ground. The channels that intelligence moves through are, metaphorically, etched into our brains. Most of them are hard to relocate or redirect, and that’s how nature intended it to be. You don’t want to start from scratch every day, learning to walk and talk all over again. Yet, even the course of a mighty river can change.

Certain kinds of rechanneling can go some way toward solving the underlying situation. The BrainWeighve screen titled “Displacement re-channeling activities” suggests activities like fishing, playing an instrument, and dancing, along with more sedentary pursuits like drawing or other artwork. Those calmer activities can usefully include journaling, but not the bare-bones kind like keeping a ship’s log.

The BrainWeighve screen titled “Problem solving” says “Write down everything you know about the problem. Then write what you might do about it.” This is an ideal place to temporarily slide out of the app, and use the technique of writing by hand, which makes a better connection with the brain. A very thorough answer would be, to use a method of journaling that asks and explores the hard questions. Even more specifically, a method with a proven ability to permanently carve new pathways into the brain by exploiting the hand-brain connection. So, stay tuned to find out more about an extremely powerful technique.

(To be continued…)

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “A New Suspect in the Obesity Epidemic: Our Brains,”, 08/22/11

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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