You can teach your brain’s reward centers to crave healthier, lower-calorie foods over junk, research at Harvard and Tufts U. recently found. And it’s easier than you think.
For six months, obese adults followed the scientifically designed “iDiet,” which prescribes healthy foods and helps eaters understand their “food instincts”—e.g., hunger, availability, familiarity—and learn to control them. At the end, MRIs showed that the reward center in the dieters’ brains “lit up” more intensely at photos of healthy food than at shots of the unhealthy crap that used to excite it.
One of the biggest keys to retraining your brain: Eat healthy when you’re hungry.
“It sounds stupidly simple, but if you think about what people are likely to grab when they’re starving—chips, pizza—it’s stuff that will maintain their old cravings,” says study co-author/iDiet creator Susan Roberts, Ph.D. “So when you’re hungry, eat something healthy instead—an apple, grilled chicken—and pretty soon your brain will think of those foods as what will be tasty.”