We don’t start out in life loving French fries and hating, for example, whole wheat pasta.” These habits happen over time in response to eating – repeatedly – what is out there in the toxic food environment. The good news is that the brain can be trained to prefer healthy food over unhealthy high-calorie foods by using a diet which does not leave people hungry.
Doctors know that once people are addicted to unhealthy foods, it is usually very hard to change their eating habits and get them to lose weight. Now Prof Roberts’ published an article in the journal Nutrition & Diabetes, in which she suggests that the brain can learn to like healthy foods. The scientist from Tufts University determined that food addictions can be changed in this way even if the bad habits are well-established.
The researchers scanned the addiction center in the brains, the part of the brain linked to reward and addiction, of a small group of men and women. After 6 months, the results showed increased cravings for healthy lower-calorie foods once patients had gone through a program of ”food alteration.”
They focused on changing food preferences by prescribing a diet high in fiber and protein, and low in carbohydrates, but which did not allow participants to become hungry because this is when food cravings take over and unhealthy food becomes attractive.
When the patients brains were scanned using MRI at the start and end of a six-month period, those following the program showed changes in the brain’s reward center.
When participants were shown pictures of different types of food, it was the healthy, low-calorie foods which produced an increased reaction in the reward center of the brain. The study said this indicated an increased reward and enjoyment of healthier food. In addition, he brain’s reward center also showed decreased sensitivity to the unhealthy, higher-calorie foods.
The Boston researchers also noted that gastric bypass surgery, while solving the problem of weight loss, can take away food enjoyment rather than make healthier foods more appealing.
Now we know why so many of my patients who follow the instructions of my Good Body program are able to make lifelong changes in their food habits! Please let me know if you are interested.