Rewiring your brain to crave healthy foods

By Betty Murray

Your cravings for high-calorie, high-fat foods may be more natural than you think. In fact, these cravings are simply human instinct. Craving food is one thing that remains from the hunter-gatherer days, when our ancestors survived on what they were able to hunt, gather and pick with their own two hands.

During this time period, it was often “feast or famine,” so the human brain craved foods that were high in calorie and fat, and was fine-tuned to pick up on signs those foods were in close proximity. In addition to craving calorie-rich foods in order to survive famine, we also crave the foods we eat the most. The more junk food you eat, the more you will crave junk food.

Because we now live in a time where there is no shortage of food, we must train our brains to crave healthy foods. Doing so will aid weight loss, and lead to a healthier life. Though it may be difficult at first, it is possible to re-wire your brain to crave healthy foods, rather than high-fat, calorie rich food.

In order to train your brain to crave healthy foods, you must first understand the balance between protein and carbohydrates. Not all carbs are bad. In fact, many plant foods, including nuts and seeds are high in good carbs, which that are essential for long-term health and even maintaining weight. These foods are rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals and they take time to digest.

High-calorie, high-fat, junk food meals might give you an immediate feeling of being full, you you’ll quickly be hungry again because the simple, processed carbohydrates in those foods cause your blood sugar to quickly rise, creating an imbalance in your metabolism. If you eat a meal or snack full of plant foods, like organic vegetables, nuts or seeds, your blood sugar won’t spike suddenly, rather, it will rise slowly over time, balancing metabolism as your body process the nutrients.

Follow these three tips to reprogram your brain to crave healthy foods:

  • Begin your day with a high-protein breakfast. Protein-rich foods can help reduce cravings throughout the day, and will even help burn calories. The first thing you eat each morning should be quality protein like nuts, seeds, nut butters or even protein shakes.
  • Avoid sugary drinks. Sweet, sugary drinks (including diet sodas) are packed with sugar and artificial sweeteners that give you the same blood sugar spike you get when you eat processed carbs. Your body recognizes artificial sugar as sugar, and the rapid rise and fall of your blood sugar that results will leave you craving high-calorie foods all day. Instead, stick with water. Green tea is another alternative if you want a drink with a bit of flavor. Green tea contains plant chemicals that are healthy, so if you want something other than water, go with green tea.
  • Balance your blood sugar by eating a small snack every three to four hours. Keep a bag of nuts or seeds close by to help you out and balance your blood sugar between meals. Remember, a sudden blood sugar crash results in cravings for high-calorie, unhealthy foods.
  • Rewiring your brain to avoid cravings for all the wrong foods is a simple matter of understanding how your body works, including how it processes nutrition. Keep your body fueled with water, fiber and protein, and you’ll find that you can make it through the day with more energy, without craving foods that shut down your metabolism and make losing weight more difficult.

    Betty Murray, CN, HHC, RYT is a Certified Nutritionist & Holistic Health Counselor, founder of the Dallas-based integrative medical center, Wellness and founder of the Metabolic Blueprint wellness program. Betty’s nutrition counseling practice specializes in metabolic and digestive disorders and weight loss resistance. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutritional interventions to improve their health. Betty is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.

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