One Donut Will Make a Difference – But not the for the Reasons you Think


You’re standing in line at the coffee shop, staring at the beautiful display of donuts, Danishes and croissants beside the cashier.

It’s early in the morning and you’re on your way to work.

You didn’t sleep well, you’re not looking forward to the day ahead and you think about how much one of those glossy pastries would cheer you up.

But, you really do want to lose the extra 10 pounds that have been making all your pants that used to be loose, noticeably tighter. You should just stick with the coffee.

But boy do they look good. And surely you deserve it after the week you’ve had so far.

“One donut isn’t going to make a difference,” you think.

I hate to the bearer of bad news, but it will make a difference. But not because of the calories, fat grams or sugar.

Rather because neurons that fire together, wire together.

This is a principle that neuroscientists refer to a lot. It basically means (in highly over-simplified terms) that, every time you make a choice or take an action, the neurons in your brain communicate by one brain cell releasing a chemical (neurotransmitter) that the next brain cell absorbs.

When brain cells communicate frequently in this way, the connection between them strengthens.  Messages that travel the same pathway in the brain over and over again begin to transmit faster and faster, and with enough repetition, they become automatic. They actually physically “wire” together.

What this means for you is that every time you make a poor choice, it results in it feeling a little more comfortable for you to make the same poor choice next time.

Not good!

But here’s the good news! This principle also means that every time you make a positive choice, it results in it feeling a little more comfortable for you to make the same positive choice next time.

Very good!

Now, I’m not trying to tell you that you shouldn’t eat donuts. I love donuts. Donuts are awesome.

But make sure you’re only saying ‘yes’ to the donut when it’s really a donut that you want. Not a better sleep, or a job that you love, or a boss that appreciates you.

If you truly want a donut then have it and sit down and eat it mindfully and enjoy it.

But if you’re simply choosing to eat a donut to cover up other uncomfortable feelings, then reconsider. Because every time you make that choice, you increase the likelihood that you’ll make the same choice again next time.

Posted in

Sara Best


  1. Brenda Finch on November 16, 2020 at 10:15 am

    This came at exactly the right time and day! I have been eating clean for two weeks and then I noticed little slips here and there……. another ounce of chicken or 10 almonds instead of 7. What was going on? If I hadn’t read your book, I wouldn’t recognize these as the signs they are. That caveman brain is very insidious and tricky! Today, it feels good to choose a powerful day as I choose to reinforce the new pathway and not the old one. Once choice at a time! Thank you Sara!

  2. Kathy Blaisdell on November 16, 2020 at 10:32 am

    Thank you, Sara! You’re so right but it’s so hard when the temptation is up there, I’m sure if I committed myself to a better sleep regime I’d be stronger when temptation would hit, thank you for waking me up to this Bless you!

  3. Sally on November 16, 2020 at 10:36 am

    Thank you for this boost. I read this and instead of going for a breakfast sandwich fast food I opted for a cliff bar instead.

  4. Amanda Sullivan on November 16, 2020 at 11:44 am

    Thank you for this. It has become easier to say no to the donut/muffin/cookie now that I make myself eat it mindfully, and sometimes even when indulging I no longer need the whole thing!

  5. Emily Duffy on June 5, 2022 at 8:43 am

    This is so true! Especially in regards to the feeling I get when I make good choices. I used to walk through the grocery store and stare longingly at the cakes, pastries and potato chips, feeling sorry for myself. Now I walk by and proudly say “hell no!”. When I look at my groceries on the check out counter and see only healthy foods, I get such a great positive feeling.

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