Train Your Brain to Enjoy Healthier Foods

September 8, 2014

Woman Eating Salad in KitchenAfter a long day at work, you walk in the door hungry and tired. What’s more appealing: a fresh piece of fruit or potato chips? When you’re run down and exhausted, the latter may be your instinct, but a new study shows you can train your brain to prefer healthier options.

Researchers from Tufts University found it may be possible to reverse cravings for unhealthy foods and increase cravings for healthy foods through behavioral modification. Our food addictions are rooted from being exposed to unhealthy foods repeatedly. These addictions can begin during childhood. For example, if ice cream was a reward for good behavior or good grades, you begin to associate ice cream with positive emotions, which can turn into an addiction.

These habits, like any addiction, can be very difficult to break once you’re hooked. However, once study participants completed a weight loss program that focused on nutritional counseling and behavioral modification, brain scans revealed changes in areas of the brain associated with learning and addiction. This area of the brain showed an increase in enjoyment for healthier foods and a decrease in enjoyment for less healthy foods.

Although the study had only 13 participants, it shows knowledge really is power. If you didn’t know pizza was so high in calories, for instance, why would you think twice about having an extra slice or two? Education can make all the difference. If you’re used to having three slices of pizza for dinner and you cut it down to one, you could be saving close to 600 calories in one meal. Replace those extra slices of pizza with a side salad, and you’re on your way to losing weight.

A CMWL provider can give you the tools and knowledge to help you reach your weight loss goals by breaking your addiction with junk food. There is no such thing as a quick fix. You have to address the cause to your weight gain and correct it to see lasting results.

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