Brain and Body

6 Brain Hacks That Will Train Your Brain to Crave Vegetables, Not Sweets

February 25, 2016 | Johannes Van Zijl

Fresh vegetables in a basket
Photo credit: Liz West/flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Mmm.... kale.

We all experience cravings for different kinds of foods, some more healthy than others. Instead of trying to ignore our cravings, what if we could train our brain to crave healthy foods, like vegetables, instead of sugary sweets and junk food?

The six brain hacks below might help you explore where your cravings comes from, and confront them accordingly. Once you have successfully mastered these tips, you will realise that, when your body is actually hungry, the cravings will lean towards food with more nutritional value rather than those that just taste good.

1.    Stop Saying Things like “I can’t have that”, or “I don’t deserve it”

Telling yourself that you are not allowed to have a particular food, or that you don’t deserve it, will likely cause you to want it even more — that’s how human nature works.

Instead, say something like “I can have whatever I want, whenever I want.” This will make you feel empowered to eat whatever you please, and when eating it, you will feel the satisfaction of eating a food that you chose.

SEE ALSO: Eating Healthy During the Week but Junk-Binging on Weekends is Awful for Gut Health

As you eat. the food will either satisfy your hunger, or will make you feel sick,  in which case you’ll stop. So, you can continue with your life without having the internal  struggle of always having to consider what you can and cannot eat.

2.    Give meals your undivided attention

Make eating a distinct priority, without the distractions of television or computers. This will allow you to fully experience the healthy and flavorful food you eat, and you will appreciate it far more.

3.    Be mindful of how food makes your body feel

Once you’re in the habit of eating without distractions, try to distinguish how different foods make you feel. For example, did that meal give you heartburn? Did you feel sluggish and tired after eating a carbohydrate-heavy meal? Did you experience an energy burst late in the afternoon after having that bag of dried fruit and nuts?

Being mindful of your body’s reactions to food will help you to distinguish and eat food that will make you feel better. Once you take the time to listen to your body, you will naturally begin to lean towards healthier foods.

4.    Before eating, ask yourself what you hope to accomplish

Always be honest with yourself: are you eating because you feel hungry? Or, are you looking for nutritional nourishment? But remember not to confuse things like, being bored, watching television on the couch, and taking a break from studying with being hungry and needing to eat. Don’t let your bad habits trick you into snacking unintentionally.

5.    Take part in other health habits that have nothing to do with food

Taking up regular exercise is a really good way to distract yourself from eating food low in nutritional value. After exercising, you won’t be tempted to go and buy a hamburger and chips. After spending two hours at the gym, your body will be craving healthy food that is high in nutrients.

So, listen to your body, follow these five brain hacks and you will see that it is much easier to eliminate your unhealthy habits and stick to what your body really needs next  time you get a craving!

6.    Reduce stress in your life

According to Harvard Health Publications, “stress-eating” is a real phenomenon. When you’re stressed over a long period of time, your body releases a hormone called cortisol which increases appetite and makes you more likely to snack between meals.

Not only does stress cause you to eat more than you need, it also changes your natural food preferences. Numerous studies have found that cortisol causes animals to choose foods high in fat and sugar, so if you’re trying to train yourself to like kale, stress is not your friend.

Check out our article on the 8 Best Ways to Reduce Stress According to Science.

H/t: Huffington post


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