Fed up of craving unhealthy, fatty foods? Retrain your brain to love only the good stuff with our expert's guide...
Retrain your brain’s habits to love healthy eating!
Think back to a time when your food cravings were practically non-existent. For most of us, it would have been when we were a small child, when we only ate when we were hungry and rarely day dreamed about chocolate treats or salty snacks.
The reason for this is because our brains had yet to develop the association we now have with these high-calorie foods so we were happy to enjoy healthy eating.
As adults, we crave sugar, caffeine and high fat foods. All day, most of us feel like we’re constantly battling with ourselves to avoid these tempting treats and love healthy eating.
A recent study carried out at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Centre on Ageing at Tufts University in America has discovered that the answer could be easier than we thought. It’s simply a matter of re-training our brains to stop craving high calorie-laden foods and instead seek out only fresh and healthy options.
Our expert, health and weight-loss coach Joanne Henson, has developed her top ten tips on how you can start to work on retraining your brain to stop craving those unhealthy, fattening foods. Click through to change your relationship with cravings today and fall in love with healthy eating again…
‘You only need willpower when there’s something to resist,’ explains Joanne. ‘If you can’t resist certain foods, avoid having them around you. Have only healthy food in the house and if you’re eating out order only what you actually intend to eat.
‘For instance, if you want to eat a grilled steak but no fries, ask the waiter for salad instead – don’t have the fries sitting on your plate to tempt you.’
‘If you don’t like certain foods, don’t force yourself to eat them just because they are healthy,’ Joanne says.
‘It’s OK if you don’t love lettuce and cottage cheese. Spend some time browsing the supermarket shelves and find other healthy food that you do like, or research different ways of cooking and preparing things to make them more enjoyable.’
‘If you’re dehydrated you’ll lack energy and your instinct will be to reach for a quick energy fix – usually sugary, salty, processed food,’ Joanne continues. ‘Stay hydrated and you won’t experience the energy dips which drive you to search out unhealthy snacks.’
‘Many people struggle with the idea of leftovers,’ Joanne explains. ‘Of course it’s not good to waste food, but consider this – if you’re eating food you don’t need then it’s just as wasted as if you’d thrown it in the bin.
‘Either way it’s not going to good use. So if you’ve got too much on your plate tell yourself it’s OK to leave some. Stop eating when you’re full.’
‘Low-fat versions of food are generally more processed than the original food, and often the fat is replaced with sugar,’ warns Joanne.
‘Sugar is addictive, and will cause chemical changes in your body which will have you craving more. Have the original version of the food, perhaps a smaller portion – you’ll feel more satisfied and you’ll be less likely to suffer cravings.’
‘All too often when we make a healthy choice we focus more on what we’re missing than on what we’ve chosen,’ Joanne outlines.
‘For instance, feeling deprived of the chocolate cake on the menu when you’ve sensibly chosen fruit salad. But when you make a healthy choice you’re nourishing your body, avoiding weight gain and improving energy levels, to name but a few positives. Focus on the nutritional benefits of your food choices and consider it an investment in your long term wellbeing.’
‘When you’re hungry, your first instinct is often to search out a quick energy hit, usually sugary or processed, fatty food,’ Joanne says.
‘Have some healthier food to hand, so that you’ll automatically reach for that before your mind turns to the unhealthy options.’
‘Many salty and sugary foods are purposely formulated to be moreish – you’re meant to find them irresistible,’ Joanne explains.
‘The problem isn’t you, it’s the food. Know that you are never going to be able to eat them in moderation, then save them for a very occasional treat.’
‘Healthy eating does not have to be 100% healthy eating,’ Joanne says. ‘If you eat well 80 to 90% of the time, the occasional treat is fine, and won’t derail any weight loss or long-term health goals.
‘Allow yourself an occasional treat, because if you don’t, when your resolve weakens and you do have one, you’ll feel guilty, demoralised, and very likely to give up totally.’
‘When you say I’m going to try to eat well this week you’re giving yourself a get-out clause,’ Joanne says.
‘Commit to your plans by removing try from that sentence. And then keep saying it – your positive affirmation.’
Joanne Henson is a health and weight-loss coach, specialising in helping people with a history of failed diets and fitness regimes to change their relationship with food and exercise for good.
From unhealthy beginnings she overcame her own obstacles and now motivates and inspires others to become the healthier, leaner, happier people they’ve always wanted to be.
Joanne is the author of What’s Your Excuse For Not Eating Healthily? (CompletelyNovel, £4.50) and What’s Your Excuse For Not Getting Fit? (CompletelyNovel, £4.99). Both are available on Amazon in Paperback and Kindle format.
Find out more about Joanne here.