“These 2 (Easily Stoppable) Bad Holiday Habits Do What To My Brain?!”

Quit These 2 Habits For Your Brain’s Sake

What do you think of when you picture Christmas and the Holidays? Maybe eating, drinking, partying, letting your hair down and feeling a bit footloose and fancy free.

Such habits will be expressed by many of us thanks to tradition, nostalgia and the desire to feel more involved in the festive spirit. However, there are 2 habits which can cause havoc with your brain, which you can effortlessly stop doing and cut out of Christmas altogether, for good. 

We’ve got the tips and tricks to help you kick those nasty habits in the cojones (also known as kahoonies).

Bad Habit 1: Grazing All Day And Night

We aren’t here to preach about the negative side effects of binge eating at Christmas. Most of us do it and embrace the stomach pains to follow. Instead, we’re here to tell you one thing you can easily do each day throughout the Holidays to help your brain and body, whilst still stuffing yourself silly. 

What’s The Tip?

Eat in an 8 hour window. It’s as simple as that. If you can restrict your excesses to within an 8 hour time frame, you may feel brighter, fresher and less likely to exacerbate that Christmas belly bulge. 

Show Me The Science

An 8 hour eating window is part of an intermittent fasting regime, which focuses on time-restricted eating.

A recent study by Mattson et al., found that intermittent fasting and calorie restriction on the body and brain’s systems are as beneficial as exercise:

 “Cellular and molecular effects of intermittent fasting and calorie restriction on the cardiovascular system and the brain are similar to those of regular physical exercise, suggesting shared mechanisms.” Plus, intermittent fasting may also positively affect blood vessels and brain cells which will “likely lead to novel preventative and therapeutic strategies for extending health span.”  

Dr Ellisor is an expert in the field of natural health and wellness and the affects modern living and nutrition can have on physical and mental wellbeing. He believes that “We have to be smarter, we have to be creative, we have to do things differently” when it comes to health in 2019 and beyond. His top brain-boosting tip is to use intermittent fasting:

 “I fast between 14-16 hours a day and my brain is the sharpest and clearest during these fasting times. We know that burning ketones is a clear thinking fuel and fasting is the best way to encourage the use of ketones in brain function.”

So how can you benefit from this information this Christmas? Eat for 8 hours (or less if you dare) of the day and you should feel less groggy, more switched on and potentially avoid weight gain too. Don’t stuff yourself silly in those 8 hours, but do enjoy a bit of what you fancy.

Choose from the following hours to eat this festive season and beyond: 

  1. 10am to 6pm 
  2. 11am to 7pm
  3. 12pm to 8pm 
  4. 1pm to 9pm
  5. 2pm to 10pm 
  6. 3pm to 11pm

Bad Habit 2: Letting Marketers Rule Your Brain 

Whether it’s happening to you, your kids or your parents, TV and online advertising is getting inside your head and influencing your brain’s decisions and choices. Especially during the festive period. This can often lead to unjustified purchasing by adults and kids. The way brands tap into each generation’s brain waves differ. And it’s a little creepy to say the least. 

The study, The Relationship Between Television Advertising, Children’s Viewing and Their Requests to Father Christmas, investigated the number of toy requests in the letters of kids aged between 6 and 8 “in relation to their television viewing and the frequency of product advertisements prior to Christmas.” Amazingly in 76 hours of TV sampled, 2,500 advertisements for kids’ toys were shown. They found children to be vulnerable to the advertiser’s persuasive messages due to their brain’s ability to recall the adverts. As a result the “children’s viewing frequency and a preference for viewing commercial channels, were both related to their requests for advertised goods.”

When it comes to kids and their recall memory, studies have shown that their memory recall ability increases when they are interested in the topic. So if a child likes army trucks, then an advert crafted around toy tanks and soldiers would stick in their memory. They’ll be ready and waiting to tell their mum or dad all about the tanks and soldiers they want when they get home. 

A study by Renniger states that “particular interests appeared to be a powerful determinant of the direction of attentional shift, level of recognition, and likelihood of recall. It is suggested that interests reflect the knowledge/value systems that preschoolers bring to the task of organizing experience, memory, and action.” The same can be said for adults too. 

An intriguing study by The University of New Hampshire, explored the Christmas shopping season, marketers and the consumer habits of generation X and Y. They looked into the ways each generation’s brain and mindset have been crafted and formed. And how this has resulted in their different reactions to Christmas advertisements. Researcher, Prof Barber, came up with the following: 

Generation X are:

  • Independent-minded and “take consumer decisions into their own hands.”
  • Shrewd online shoppers and have “a keen understanding of marketing… gathering information and gaining a deep understanding of products prior to purchase.”
  • Motivated “to search for purchase-related information… as assurance that they are not being taken advantage of by marketers and are getting the best deal possible.” 

Generation Y are:

  • Dependent “on the opinions of others – especially their parents – when making purchases.” 
  • Guided “they look to their parents, and often their peers, for guidance and have trouble making decisions on their own because of excessive “hovering” parental oversight.”
  • Conformists “to parental norms and an overdependence on technology, coupled with the ease of connecting with peers, adds to their inability to make decisions.”

So Why Are Advertisements So Bad For The Brain? 

Advertisements can influence your brain into thinking it wants/needs something badly. When in actual fact, you’re quite happy without it. The marketers are manipulating the way you think and feel by tapping into your brain’s emotions and recalls, to get you to purchase. Research piece, This Is Your Brain On Ads: An Internal ‘Battle’ by Maya Cueva confirms this. 

Cueva went to a lab at NeuroFocus to have an EEG cap placed on her head, to find out how much control she has over her thoughts, when it comes to watching adverts. The EEG “is picking up brain waves created by the electrical activity that passes between neurons when my brain processes something, anything — even commercials.” Cueva is shown a Visa commercial at the Olympics and scientist Kishiyama tracks her brainwaves. 

He explains that you usually watch ads passively “but your brain is responding to it. So it’s not always conscious… It’s subconscious, or “nonconscious, but the awareness is still there.” She describes how “that awareness shows up on the EEG as tall peaks in the parts of my brain Kishiyama says are associated with emotion, attention and memory. Those parts get busy at certain moments in the ad — at the beginning with the torch and figure skater and then later when a Visa card appears on-screen… He says it’s evidence that my brain is making a nonconscious link between the credit card and the Olympics.” Spooky, right? 

How Can You Stop Being Influenced/Brainwashed?

  • Turn off the TV and do something else with your time. Like reading books on neuroscience or playing Balderdash. And get your kids away from those ads!
  • If you can’t turn the TV off (perhaps you’ve lost the remote…) become more aware as you’re sitting watching the ads. Tune into them rather than tune out, so you can make a conscious decision as to whether you like what you’re seeing.  
  • Do your own research on the product and decide if you really do need it. 

If you want to give your brain and body an easier time this festive season, then try stopping these 2 bad habits. Who knows, you may even take them beyond the Holidays and into the new year. One step at a time, hey? 

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Sources Cited:  

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11482-015-9441-8

https://cdn.journals.lww.com/jrnldbp/Abstract/2007/12000/The_Relationship_Between_Television_Advertising,.6.aspx

https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1985-30470-001

https://scholars.unh.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4803&

https://text.npr.org/s.php?sId=137175622

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15741046

All information featured in Peak – Brain Training articles are provided for informational purposes only and are not substitutes for medical or physician advice.

Maisie Bygraves

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