Do you crave chocolate, french fries, “Maccas”, or maybe a good old Aussie meat pie? Do you roam the house in search of your kids’ lolly bags – you know, the one they got from that party 8 months ago which you’re sure has something left in it. In short, are you a junk food addict?
If so, you’re not alone, but a recent study has shown that you may not have to live the rest of your life struggling with food cravings and addictions.
It’s possible to train your brain to choose healthier food options, and you won’t feel like you’re depriving your body of the foods it craves. When you train your brain correctly, you automatically begin to choose healthier food options. You won’t feel like you’re forcing yourself to choose healthier options, just because you know they are good for you, or you want to lose weight. You can start to lose weight without really trying.
A study conducted by Dr Susan Roberts, at Tuffs University studied 13 people, 8 of whom were already part of another weight loss study, and the remaining 5 formed the control group.
The study participants underwent brain scans, which showed that areas of the brain used for learning and addiction of the 8 enrolled in the weight loss study, were changing. Researchers believe this was because of the reward programme associated with the weight loss study.
Using positive reinforcement and rewarding yourself for sticking to eating healthy foods over addictive, unhealthy ones is the simplest way to retrain your brain.
It’s important to keep exposing yourself to healthy foods, as well as designing a rewards program for yourself. Any parent will know that in order to get kids to eat new foods, you need to keep serving it on their plate, regardless of whether they are eating it or not. It’s suggested that you may need to expose kids to a new food up to 15 times, before they’ll get accustomed to it.
And what do we do when our kids finally eat spinach for the first time? Why…we reward them with a lovely smile and words of encouragement don’t we? They see that eating that food is rewarding, so they keep eating it – well, at least for the most part.
So do the same for yourself. Start rewarding yourself with a holiday, new clothes, a new book, a walk in the park, a bike ride, twenty minutes to yourself, phoning a friend, buy yourself a bunch of flowers, send yourself a card of congratulations in the mail! Anything to train your brain to realise that choosing healthy foods over unhealthy ones is the right thing to do!