Why is it, that the vast majority of the people on this planet find it soooo hard to eat clean healthy foods?
I mean, it’s so easy to pick up an unhealthy snack, yet so hard to eat something healthy. Don’t you agree?
Let this article show you how to train your mind to eat healthy food.
Well, your dislike for vegetables, fruits, and other healthy foods can be traced back to your childhood. Let’s go over some of the reasons why you hate healthy foods:
How to train your mind to eat healthy food?
1) You were not given veggies at a very early age
In truth, your parents should’ve started giving you mashed veggies and fruits once you are able to eat solid foods. At that young age, your taste buds are not fully developed to appreciate the various tastes of food. If your parents started giving you veggies by the age of five and six, you will hate them because you have already acquired a taste for unhealthy foods, especially those that are sweet and salty.
2) Backfiring parent psychology
Your parents wanted more than anything that you eat your greens when you were a kid. But all those psychological strategies, like the constant nagging, sneaking veggies into the foods you love, and giving you rewards/over-praising you for eating healthy don’t really work because, as a kid, you don’t really understand WHY you should eat healthy foods. At that young age, the concept of health – of eating healthy to grow big muscles, so you won’t get sick, etc. – are way beyond your understanding.
3) Kids love to eat foods that give them energy
All growing kids need energy. Naturally, their bodies – and their taste buds – would turn them toward foods that give them energy. It is unfortunate that the foods that provide that energy high happen to contain lots of sugar.
4) Veggies are naturally bitter
The one thing that kids hate most about veggies is the bitter taste. This is caused by the presence of certain compounds, particularly calcium, phenols, terpenes, flavonoids, isoflavones, and glucosinolates. However, it is these compounds that make veggies so healthy for you.
5) No veggies during the fun times
As a kid, do you remember being served veggies during your birthday party, holidays, or other fun family events? Definitely not! Well, there’s a concept in psychology called Paired Associative Learning. Kids learn to love high fat and sugar foods and processed foods like hot dogs because they are associated with positive memories of these happy events. In contrast, vegetables are associated with negative memories of your parents’ nagging you to eat during meals.
Can You Train Your Brain to Eat Veggies?
Since your brain has been programmed since childhood to hate anything healthy, is it possible to reprogram it to love health foods? The answer is YES!
Early studies showed that there is a hyperactivation of the brain’s reward center (called the “striatum”) in people who are overweight or obese. Scientists wondered if they can alter this specific brain activation toward healthier foods.
In a recent study, 13 overweight test subjects were divided into two groups. The “intervention” group was placed on a structured behavioral weight loss program, which consisted of a high-fiber and high-protein diet to curb their cravings and appetite. Both groups were made to undergo MRI to determine the activity in the striatum. The study showed that striatum activity in the intervention group showed a favorable response to pictures of healthy foods compared to those of pizza, French fries, and other unhealthy foods. Prior to their involvement in the study, this group showed higher brain activity when exposed to high-fat, high-sugar foods.
So, yes, it is indeed possible to train your brain to love healthy foods. But, how can you do that?
Ways of Training Your Brain to Love Healthy Foods
1) Going Cold Turkey
When you go cold turkey, it means you stop eating unhealthy foods immediately. The problem is going cold turkey is easier said than done. Your craving for unhealthy foods is a form of addiction. In most cases, even if you do go cold turkey, it will only be for a few days. Afterwards, you will see yourself bingeing on the same junk foods all over again. If you are planning to go cold turkey, it is important that you know what sorts of junk foods you have been eating and their healthier alternatives.
2) Educate Yourself
Numerous articles cover what junk foods do to your body. This includes the risk of developing chronic illnesses like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Thankfully, there is just as much information on what are the best foods for you and healthy alternatives to the junk you’re eating now.
3) Learn about Healthy Foods
A research study revealed that the best foods for you, me and the rest of humanity are the foods that we are genetically adapted to eat. We are talking about the foods that our ancestors have eaten since the dawn of time. Definitely, sugars and processed foods are out.
The best foods for your health are…
Meat – preferably organically grown or grass-fed meats like chicken, pork, beef and lamb
Fish – those that are rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids. You should eat fish at least once a week.
Eggs – this superfood is rich protein and healthy calories, especially in the yolk
Vegetables – veggies are rich in fiber, vitamins and other essential nutrients
Fruits – fruits are a great alternative to your pastries and other sweets. They are also rich in Vitamin C and other vitamins and fiber. However, you should eat fruits in moderation because of their high natural sugar content
Nuts and seeds – these are the best alternatives to your chips. Nuts and seeds like sunflower seeds, walnuts and almonds are also rich in fiber and other nutrients.
Fats and oils – The best oils for the heart are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. You should also use walnut oil, grapeseed oil, and avocado oil, which contain omega-3 fatty acids.
4) Clean out your fridge and cupboard
Now that you know what the best foods for you to eat are. It’s time to learn how to train your mind to eat healthy food. Now get to work in cleaning out the junk from your cupboard and fridge! Pack up all the food you don’t need and give them to your local food bank or homeless shelter. Those junk foods are an irresistible temptation, so better get them out of your home fast.
5) Develop the liking for healthy foods
In a study on consumer habits and obesity, it revealed that our craving for junk food is being perpetuated by food companies, who push and accommodate the demand for salty, high fat, and high-calorie foods.
To break this cycle, you need to develop a liking and tolerance for veggies and other healthy foods that you hated before. This can be done by trying new ways of cooking healthy foods so that they are yummy to you.
As a good example, try lessening the bitterness of veggies by sautéing, braising or pickling them. Another way is by preparing yummy salsas and dips that will hide the unsavory taste.
Finally, expose yourself more to healthy foods, especially the ones that you hate. While you don’t have to eat these foods on a nauseating daily basis, you should space your intake of them within a week. Usually, after 10 to 15 tries, you will develop a tolerance and liking to them. Now that you know how to train your mind to eat healthy food, be consistent, your body will thank you later!