You know you should be eating more healthy foods, but you continue craving junk food. There is hope for those in this situation as new research has indicated that it is possible to train your brain to become addicted to low-calorie foods.
Co-corresponding author of the study, Susan B Roberts, said we do not commence life absolutely loving French fries and hating, for example, whole wheat foods. She said this type of conditioning happens over time as a response to repeatedly eating foods that are bad for us.
The study involved a group of obese volunteers undergoing a six-month weight loss programme while their reaction to different food types was gauged by scanning the parts of the brain linked to addiction and learning, by using magnetic resonance imaging or MRI.
They found that after this period, the brains of the participants responded more to healthier food cues and showed less sensitivity to unhealthy, high-calorie foods.
Co-author, Sai Krupa, said the programme had been designed specifically to adjust people’s reaction to different foods. The study indicated that the participants had an increased desire for healthy foods and a decreased desire for unhealthy foods. Krupa said this combined effect is potentially vital for sustainable weight control. The author stated that they believe this is the first demonstration which indicates this crucial switch.
The full details of the weight loss programme are not available, but the researchers have stated that it includes several factors which are related to reversing addiction and includes not only low glycaemic, high fibre foods, but also education related to behavior change.
Co-author Dr Thilo Deckersbach said that other studies have indicated that surgical interventions, such as gastric bypass surgery, may decrease the enjoyment level of eating overall, it is not satisfactory as it removes the enjoyment of food generally, instead of increasing the appeal of healthier foods.
Image credit: Jessica Spengle