Ditch Junk Food Cravings, Switch to a Healthy Diet

Photo courtesy of Flickr: Train your brain to crave healthier foods rather than junk food. 

Jade Osowski, Health Editor

“I’m craving some spinach,” said no one ever… However, according to a new article recently released by CNN, it may be possible to rewire your brain into craving healthy foods.

Unfortunately, there is no magic trick in this procedure. So what is the secret? Suggested by the article, to crave healthy foods one must begin by following a healthier diet.

We weren’t born loving pizza and candy, but after prolonged exposure to these foods and repeatedly eating them, we wired our brain to crave these items. If we are able to train our minds to want junk food, why couldn’t we train our minds to want healthy food?

Michelle Ronchetti, director of health services, shares that this seems to be true. “Little kids who are introduced to fresh fruits and veggies from a young age will desire those foods over junk,” she said.

Cutting off junk food completely is definitely easier said than done. However, there are small switches that can be done to make the transition smoother.

“Make a point to keep healthy snacks around; fresh fruits and veggies are ‘portable,’” Ronchetti suggested. “Eat a bowl of oatmeal or small salad before heading out to that tailgating party or holiday celebration.”

The key is to find foods that keep you feeling full for a longer period of time. “Snacks high in sugar and fat tend to cause our blood sugar to spike and then drop, leaving us feeling even more hungry,” Ronchetti said.

If you find yourself still wanting to grab a chocolate bar as a quick snack, try reaching for its alternative. Most, if not all, unhealthy snack foods have a healthier version.

“If you crave chocolate, swap out milk chocolate for dark chocolate. Switch from full fat dairy to a lower fat version,” said Ronchetti. “If you crave a piece of pizza, try swapping out the pepperoni or sausage for green peppers or mushrooms.”

The long-term benefits of a healthier diet are countless. The overall health of an individual eating better will be much better than someone having pizza and soda for dinner each night.

Admitting that it is okay to splurge every once in a while, Ronchetti shares that people who generally follow a healthier diet are more likely to maintain a healthy weight.

“Avoiding extra weight is optimal for heart health, liver, kidneys and joint health, just to name a few body parts that really benefit from maintaining a healthy weight throughout life,” she said.

Eating a healthier diet also benefits our energy levels throughout the day.

“Adults often describe having more energy when they eat healthier choices, [such as] lean protein, whole grains, fresh fruits and veggies, and cut out excess sugar and fat from their diet,” Ronchetti commented.

Although it’s not the end of the world to grab a less than healthy snack food from time to time, moderation is the most important. The more we work toward eating a healthier diet, the more our brains will crave it and our overall health will benefit.

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