4 ways to overcome the junk food psychology
As we shared with you last week, one of the hardest parts of adopting a healthier lifestyle is trying to acclimate your body and brain to make more nutritious decisions. What makes this change so difficult is that the brain is actually programmed to prefer junk food over healthy choices. A study conducted at McGill University found that the brain assigns values to the food we eat, and the higher a food item's calorie content is, the greater the value we subconsciously give it. Consequently, whether we mean to or not, we inevitably end up gravitating more toward junk food because that's what the brain is accustomed to craving.
But it doesn't have to stay that way forever! If you're looking to eat and live healthier, there are a few steps you can take to override this junk food psychology and push your brain toward more nutritious dining choices. Here are four tips recommended by Yahoo Health:
- Don't go to the store on an empty stomach: Making a trip to the grocery store when you're hungry often leads to loading up your shopping cart with tons of items that you don't even necessarily want to eat and just happened to catch your eye. The hungrier you are, the more food you'll buy, and more often than not they'll be higher in calories. To avoid walking away from the supermarket with a cart full of junk food, do your shopping after you've eaten.
- Make a list: Plan out ahead of time what you want to buy and then stick to it. You'll be less likely to pick up unnecessary junk food if you have a list of healthy choices to adhere to first.
- Meals should be a routine: "When you're famished, you're more likely to order that double cheeseburger with fries, instead of making the more sensible, nutritious choice," writes Laura Tedesco for Yahoo Health. "That's why it's so critical that you eat regularly, before your tummy is really growling, [according to clinical psychological Katie] Rickel. An easy way to make sure that happens: Map out your day of eating ahead of time."
- Talk yourself out of snacks: If you feel a snack craving kicking in, tell yourself that instead of going for chips or cookies, you'll eat an apple or banana instead. Then follow through and eat that banana or apple. As author and neurologist Alain Dagher notes, this is a habit that will slowly but surely help "override your drives" and teach your brain into picking healthier foods over more caloric ones.
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