To eat healthier is something we are all interested in but very few of us actually succeed in reaching this goal. Unfortunately, more often than we would like, we give into temptations and end up feeling guilty. The vicious cycle is reinforced when we follow our cravings.
The good news is that you can make a change for the better and train your brain to eat healthier. This change might seem difficult, if not impossible to achieve at first; however, as you will persevere, you will be thankful for the way you feel and look.
How to Train Your Brain to Eat Healthier
1. Eat when you are hungry, not sad or angry
When we experience negative emotions, such as sadness, anger or depression, we are more likely to give into cravings. This is because the brain responds to unhealthy foods, which are often rich in calories, by releasing happiness hormones, such as dopamine and serotonin. These calorie-rich foods trigger a cycle of addiction, with weight gain as a consequence. The solution is to break the cycle and stop relying on food to cover up difficult emotions.
2. Throw away junk food
Easier said than done. Nevertheless, when we have temptations nearby, we are more likely to give into them. The brain will seek that rush of pleasures given by junk food, so you will find it practically impossible to resist. No matter how difficult it might seem, you have to surround yourself only with healthy food. Rearrange the kitchen, throw away any junk food and try to replace commonly-preferred snacks with healthy alternatives, such as sliced veggies and fresh fruits.
3. Take your time to sit down and have a meal
We have grown accustomed to eating on the run. More often than not, we eat fast food, while standing and taking one big bite after the other. When we gulp down food, without even looking at our plates, we teach the brain that fast is better. In term of health, this can affect the satiety mechanism and throw away the leptin balance (satiety hormone). Sit down and take your time to eat, opting for healthy, home-cooked meals.
4. Colours on your plate
Colourful food is also healthy. From another perspective, it appeals to the brain, reinforcing the idea that such meals are the best. So, when preparing your meals, do not hesitate to use plenty of fresh veggies and fruits. Inspire yourself from the creations of famous chefs and look for unconventional ways to plate a meal. Use savory garnishes, fresh herbs and plenty of spices, as these will give an amazing flavour to your dishes.
5. Embrace variety
A varied diet is also a healthy one. And the thing is we do have a lot of great choices available. We can opt for colourful veggies and fruits, as mentioned, incorporate different textures into our meals and play with flavours as we wish. What matters is that we keep the brain entertained, so that it looks forward to each healthy meal. When the brain is excited about a meal that is also healthy, it will release happiness hormones and you will forget all about junk or fast food.
6. Reinterpret food so that it becomes more appealing
Let’s face it, no wants to eat broccoli as such. But when you turn it into a delicious, creamy soup, you suddenly gain a new perspective on life. Comfort food can be healthy, all you need is some inspiration and you will no doubt come up with amazing meals. You can make “fries” in the oven, enjoy a delicious ice cream from bananas and take delight in dark chocolate, added to yoghurt. It all matters how you look at things.
7. Reduce your portion size
Perhaps this is one of the most difficult things to achieve, as we are constantly surrounded by super-sized meals (especially when it comes to fast food, which is the worst). When preparing your meals at home, try to eat a smaller portion. You can trick your brain by opting for a place that is smaller in size, as this is guaranteed to have the intended effect. The same goes for beverages, with a tall thin glass representing the perfect choice.
8. Create a goal calendar
For a lot of people, it is difficult to keep on the right track, if there is no motivation behind each day. Sure, the ultimate goal is to eat healthier and even to lose weight, but we cannot achieve all of these things in an instant. So, what you need to do is create a goal calendar, with a number of milestones to be achieved. For example, a milestone could be to throw away all the junk food from the house. Another, to eat at least a serving of fruits per day. Give yourself a reward (not food) for successfully achieving each milestone. Before you will notice, you will begin to eat healthier and feel better overall.
People who spent more time in the open outdoors, being especially engaged in physical activities, are highly likely to opt for healthier choices. On the one hand, they are consuming a lot of energy, with the brain requiring additional fuel to function. On the other hand, as they are concentrated on their physical health, they are not going to opt for junk or fast food. Try to fill your day with plenty of outdoor activities. Go swimming, take a walk through the park or play tennis with your friends.
10. Make conscious choices
Let’s say you get to choose between your favorite ice cream and a slice of fruit. Even though you are tempted to opt for the first, you can make a conscious choice and go for the fruit. Guaranteed, this will not generate the same amount of pleasure but, at the same time, it will represent the healthier choice. When you accept the fact that your choice generates less pleasure but it is better for you, things will fall right into place. Making conscious choices can help you eat healthier and enjoy an excellent state of well-being.
In conclusion, these are some of the ways in which you can train your brain to eat healthier. Keep in mind that physical exercise should be integrated into the daily schedule, as this is also necessary to stay healthy.