At birth, we are naturally drawn to healthy, nutritious foods. Until we discover Cheetos and whoopie pies exist.
“We don't start out in life loving French fries and hating, for example, whole-wheat pasta,” one of the study’s authors Susan Roberts said in a statement. “'This conditioning happens over time in response to eating – repeatedly! - what is out there in the toxic food environment.”
The good news? We can reverse the process and train our brains to re-love vegetables, according to the research, which is published in the journal Nutrition and Diabetes. All it takes is a healthy diet.
Thirteen overweight or obese adults participated in the study – eight were placed on a Tufts University-designed eating plan and five changed nothing at all. MRI scans before and after the study found the healthy dieters' brains rewired to crave celery over cinnamon rolls.
The key to that shift, though, may be in the type of diet and an emphasis on behavior change, according to the study’s authors.
Participants prescribed an eating plan were put on something called the iDiet, which consists of high-fiber, high-protein foods to maximize fullness while still eating healthy. The authors believe the key to craving those foods is also feeling satisfied after the meal. The dieters were able to feel full but still lose weight because of the nutrient-rich foods they were eating.
If you’re looking to crave spinach instead of sweets, eat foods that are nutritious and still fill you up.
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