How to train your brain to crave healthy foods
By Roy Kim, Jan 08 2015
DIET is a four-letter word to many people and with good reason! The word itself strikes fear into the hearts of people worldwide and that’s because when we utter it, D-I-E-T brings to mind feelings of hunger, deprivation and even failure. It’s kind of a downer.
When you’re counting on your willpower to override natural feelings like hunger or food cravings, you can almost always expect that to peter out, eventually. And that’s why diets are a setup for failure. In fact, a recent survey done by The Council on Size and Weight Discrimination found that 95 percent of people who lost weight on a diet ended up gaining all the weight back in one to five years.
This could be because human willpower is weak and our relationship to food is strong. Our minds and bodies become hard-wired to crave the foods we eat the most. A study published in Frontiers of Psychology revealed that in animal studies, subjects that ate a diet of junk food had less of an appetite for healthy nourishment. Researchers speculate the same could be true for humans.
Junk foods today can contain any number of highly-processed ingredients, artificial additives and added sugars. These ingredients cause our brains to release chemicals including dopamine and serotonin into our bodies sending us a pleasure signal. When people who eat junk food are offered a healthy alternative like a natural fruit or vegetable they are more likely to turn it down than someone who eats whole foods regularly.
So the question arises: can we train our brains to crave healthy foods? You can create a new habit in about 21 days, but it may take longer to fight of food cravings developed over years of not-so-healthy eating. But how? If you don’t WANT to eat healthy in the first place how can you wean yourself off the junk?
Eating Paleo foods is a great start. Since our Paleolithic ancestors didn’t have processed foods to contend with eating natural foods is a great way to cut back on consuming junk food. Since many junk foods today contain loads of added sugar you might find that beating the sugar cravings is the hardest part of kicking junk food to the curb. One way to reduce the effects of sugars and highly-processed carbohydrates (found in almost 100% of all packaged foods today) is to consume those types of foods along with a high-protein food or paleo snacks.
Protein is a nutrient that helps to slow the absorption of sugars into the bloodstream. When blood sugar levels are elevated those pleasure signals in the brain are at their all-time high, and when blood sugar levels drop… that’s when the cravings kick in. So by consuming a healthy source of protein like grass-feed beef you are able to stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce the hold those junk foods have on your brain.
Start training your brain to crave healthier foods today! Toss a few Chomps Snack Sticks into your purse, workout bag and even stash these healthy snacks in your desk drawer so you’ll always have a food option on hand that WON’T skyrocket your blood sugar (or those addicting pleasure signals).