The reason we crave energy dense food over leafy greens dates back to the good ol’ caveman days. For the majority of human history, food was scarce – so, high fat, high carbohydrate meals were often highly sought after to survive. It’s also thought this may be the reason people feel ‘addicted’ to sugar.
Taking it to the present day, whilst we still crave these rich, tasty foods when we’re hungry, we also crave it when emotional, bored or a little stressed out. WHY? When we eat such foods, our brain releases neurotransmitters (aka the feel-good hormones; Dopamine & Serotonin). This quirky kind of reward system trains our brain to crave sweet, fatty or refined foods.
We get it. We know that eating these sorts of food ain’t great for us, when faced with the choice of steak or salad, temptation is often hard to overcome. But what if it wasn’t?!
Can we train our brain to pick veggies?
A recent study has found that our brain actually does want healthy food.
Whilst healthy foods are not typically associated with the instant release of those feel-good hormones, we can learn to love the long-term benefits instead. The study spilt participants into two groups, one which ate a wholesome, nutritionally complete and the other group ate… well, far from it.
Over the eight week period, the participants who switched consumption from junk to include more vegetables, fruit and wholegrains experienced noticeable outcomes in weight loss and improved mental health. These positive outcomes then increased the participations motivations to choose wholesome food.
So, when one is able to see and feel these benefits of eating healthy – the mental association between healthy food and feeling good becomes stronger.
Ultimately, our relationship with food is complex, we can’t simply flick a switch in our brain to make us choose a banana over a brownie. We might not get the same immediate “kick” out of eating healthy food, but the long-term rewards far exceed the fleeting sugar fix.
Never fear – here are my 3 top tips to help you along…
- Change the way you eat (and cook!)
Stopping the cravings before they hit is the secret to success – seek out good tasting, wholesome options which take longer to digest, this helps to weaken the link between certain foods and emotions. Look to incorporate exciting textures and flavours, adding herbs and spices, along with different cooking methods (grilling, steaming, roasting) are all great ways to keep your taste buds on their toes.
- Keep sensible snacks on hand
Hunger happens between meals. Snacking on good, nutritious food throughout the day is a great way to stabilize your blood sugar levels and prevent a sugar craving. Smart snacks include; a serve of low fat yogurt, wholegrain crackers with hummus, boiled eggs or a handful of popcorn.
- Ditch the distractions
Soul Origin is all about eating mindfully – now you can too. When you are distracted, you can end up eating up to 20% more! So, turn off the TV or put that phone down. Focus on the food and the flavor and you’ll reap the rewards. This is an easy trick you can put into place from… NOW.