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Motivation to Healthy Eating Essay Sample

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Motivation to Healthy Eating Essay Sample

Motivation and the Brain

            The part of the brain that controls or regulates food intake is the limbic system.  The limbic system is a primitive part of the brain that has evolved from the ancestors.  It is within the cortex and lies on top of he brain stem.  It is composed of several structures which are; the amygdala, the hyppocampus, the thalammus, olfactory cortex, diencephalon, fornix, singulate gyrus, and the hypothalamus.  These structures are involved in certain functions that control human emotions and motivations.  The examples of emotions controlled by the limbic system include, fear, anger and those related to sexual behavior.  The limbic system also controls human feelings on sex and eating that are feelings of pleasure.

            Eating is controlled by the limbic structure, the hypothalamus.  The hypothalamus controls the activities of the autonomic nervous system that includes regulating certain metabolic processes.  Healthy eating means regulating the body weight and the energy in the human body which depends on the central nervous system for transmission of messages about the metabolic state of the body to the hypothalamus.  The hypothalamus has a complex system that matches the response to context and so controls when to eat and when not to eat.  This part of the limbic system is the part that helps the body determines or detects the important motivations to the body for example the motivation to eat.  The hypothalamus regulates the feeding behavior for maintaining the balance between the body weight and the energy.  It is balanced between hunger and satiation.

When someone is hungry, the parts of the hypothalamus responsible for food intake regulation increase neural activity.  The lateral hypothalamus and the ventromedial hypothalamus are the regions that control food intake through the nerve cells.  Without this, anybody would be eating anything at anytime.  The ventromedial system controls food intake so that it is responsible for informing the body when to eat.  If it happens that the ventromedial system is affected or has a lesion, then a human being would not have the control to stop eating and would overeat.  When someone is satiated, the ventromedial system signals the person to stop eating.  The lateral hypothalamus is responsible for stimulating eating and any effect on eat will make someone lose appetite.  It therefore means that the lateral hypothalamus switches on eating and the ventromedial hypothalamus switches off.

            Intrinsic factors:  Intrinsic factors impact on the limbic system specifically the hypothalamus.  Intrinsic factors are those that are naturally induced such as hunger and fullness.  The hunger drive; when one is hungry, the lateral hypothalamus is stimulated and the person looks for food to eat.  When a person is full, the ventromedial hypothalamus is stimulated to stop the person from over eating.  Lesions on the axons connecting the hypothalamus, the brain stem and the basal ganglia involved in lateral hypothalamus functions inhibit their actions and human responses to stimulation.  Intrinsic factors generally encourage healthy eating except when there is a problem with the regulating machines, and then a person will either be malnourished or will over eat.

            Impact of extrinsic factors:  The external factors are those people pay attention to to make them eat.  External or extrinsic factors can either stimulate or not stimulate someone to eat.  When one sees or smells a nice food, the lateral hypothalamus will be stimulated and the person will have the urge to eat the food seen or smelt.  When someone sees the food and is already full, the lateral hypothalamus is not stimulated or is stimulated slightly.  When one notices that he is growing too fat, he/ she would want to stop eating.  The ventromedial hypothalamus would then be stimulated to stop the person from eating.  Extrinsic factors increases motivation to healthy eating.

            Heredity on motivation to healthy eating:  Most of the over eating cases are hereditary.  If a child’s parents are both fat then there are high chances he/she will be fat too including the other children of the parents’.  If only one parent is fat, still there are chances of the child getting fat but reduced as compared to when both parent are fat.  The motivation to healthy eating is hereditary in that if some one has the genes responsible for overeating then the offspring is likely to inherit that, likewise to if the eating habits of a person as controlled by the hypothalamus is good and brings a balance between the body weight and the energy, then the offspring is likely to inherit that too.  Inheriting the genes responsible for motivation to healthy eating affects the motivation of healthy eating of an individual making some to be obese if the genes lack control of over eating elements.

            The environment and motivation to healthy eating:  The environment plays a big role in motivation to healthy eating habits.  Obesity arises due to lack of physical activity and bad eating habits.  People should be encouraged to do physical exercise and be taught about the importance in order to live a healthy life.  They should be taught on good eating habits since eating habits influence the motivation to healthy eating.  Eating foods at any time with no regard to the effect, the energy it contributes to the body and whether it is balanced encourages bad motivation to healthy eating.


Robert J. Sternberg and Josephine F. Wilson, (2004) Psychology of eating. United States: Thomson Wadsworth, 2004

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