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A SENSE-ble Look at Healthy Living: Nociception

I’ve talked about the ways my many senses are used to help along this continuing journey to a healthy lifestyle. The next one is complicated but may be one of the key reasons for either a successful journey — or failure.

The sense of nociception deals with pain. Nociceptors are neuron bundles distributed in skin, joints, muscles, and organs. They react to anything that’s happening around me. They warn me that I need to make a change or stop what I’m doing so I’m not further harmed.

man meditating in nature

I’ve had many aches and pains in my life. Some resolved with over-the-counter pain relief medications and some just needed ice or heat. I try to remember not to overdo it so I won’t activate these pain receptors again. At times there’s a deeper pain, which may be a warning sign that a medical crisis is happening that requires medical intervention.

Nociceptors help me maintain a safe atmosphere and protect me from hurting myself. Remembering a stomachache from overeating may help me not to do it again. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work.

I believe I manage physical pain well. I try not to be stubborn and will now go to a healthcare provider if the pain signals a more dangerous situation.

However, I have difficulty dealing with emotional pain. The same area of the brain responds to both physical and emotional pain. I know I tend to mask the emotional pain with food. There’s a reason they call it “comfort food.”

I know the best way to resolve a problem is to acknowledge a problem exists. I’ve learned through TOPS how to manage my dealings with emotional pain. I do the best I can. It’s amazing how some of the basic TOPS philosophies have influenced many aspects of my life.

Here are some of the recommendations I found during my research for this refracted look on how to deal with emotional pain. They may look very familiar.

  • Keep a food diary — look for patterns connecting my mood with food.
  • Tame stress — yoga and meditation.
  • Hunger reality check — physical or emotional?
  • Get support — rely on friends or join a support group.
  • Fight boredom — replace mindless snacking with walking or listening to music.
  • Remove temptations — don’t keep trigger foods in your home.
  • Don’t deprive yourself — enjoy an occasional treat and watch portions.
  • Snack healthy — have fruit instead of a candy bar.
  • Learn from setbacks — if you slip, forgive and move forward with a better plan.

Physical and emotional pain is no laughing matter. We may all have different tolerances to these types of pain; however, they should not be ignored. It took me a long time to be comfortable in asking, accepting, and using support. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and I hope you don’t wait as long as I did.

Weight loss and the ongoing journey to a healthy (pain-free) lifestyle is not easy … and should never be done alone.


This is part 14 of the multipart series, “A SENSE-ble Look at Healthy Living.” In my next blog, we’ll look to the human sense of magnetoreception.

Missed the beginning of our journey through the human senses? Check out the rest of A SENSE-ble Look at Healthy Living.


1 thought on “A SENSE-ble Look at Healthy Living: Nociception

  1. Perfect timing, thanks for reminders of excellent ways to enjoy time, change my mood, and ignore food cravings. Keeping healthy snacks of vegetables and fruit nearby helps!

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