If you’re like 90% of American adults, you don’t eat the recommended two to three cups of vegetables per day. People understand that vegetables are beneficial for them, but something seems to stand in the way of eating them. Many people say that they eat vegetables, when in reality they only eat corn with butter, carrots with ranch dressing, fried potatoes, or iceberg lettuce.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if your body tingled and felt magical every time you ate a cup of broccoli? The truth is that it does feel magical, even if you don’t realize it. When you eat a cookie, or any sugary treat for that matter, it’s instantly satisfying. One study found that each person who ate a sugary treat experienced a dopamine rush. Sugary, high-calorie, and fatty foods activate the brain’s reward system more than kale, broccoli, or spaghetti squash. What if you could train your brain to get excited about low-calorie, healthy foods, though? As it turns out, you can.
Understanding The Reward/Value System:
People make excuses for not eating vegetables all the time. Be they too expensive or not sustainable, the excuses are never-ending. While many people in low-income areas don’t have sufficient access to healthier foods, the primary reason people avoid vegetables is because they are not rewarding. What do people get excited about eating? Dessert, of course! In fact, people save room for dessert! The dessert, be it a candy bar or piece of cake, is the reward and it has more calories and fat than broccoli, for instance. From a survival standpoint, your brain wants the calories, so it ends up being more about the calories than the reward. Additionally, we learn to eat dessert at parties or special occasions. Dessert becomes a fun experience, so your brain craves the sugar and fat in addition to the experience again and again.
Your Brain Can Learn To Like Vegetables:
You may not dive into a spirulina smoothie bowl immediately, but you can train your brain to crave more vegetables. According to research, people respond more positively to vegetables when they aren’t labeled as “healthy.” One study found that exciting descriptions of healthier foods enticed 25% more subjects to eat them. Nutritionists explain that learning to eat healthier foods doesn’t mean that you have to leave your “cake” behind. Healthier eating is never about demonizing pleasure foods; rather, it’s about paying attention to how we feel when we eat certain foods.
When you describe a side salad, you say things like, “It was crunchy and green.” When you describe a piece of chocolate cake, you say things like, “The cake was wonderfully moist, subtly sweet, and the frosting was a heavenly blend of buttercream and sugar.” Do you see the difference? Don’t think negatively while you eat more vegetables and your brain will learn to like them more when you actually eat them. And when you do eat healthier foods, eat enough to fill you up. Many people look down on healthier, low-calorie foods because they don’t get full after eating them. All you have to do is eat more of whatever healthy food you eat!
Learn More About Healthier Foods:
Most people continue to do something if they can see or feel a difference. Whether you walk daily and lose five pounds in a month or eat more greens and lower your blood pressure, the positive results make your brain think, “This is good for me.” It is at this point that you become more interested in your healthier diet, but you have to go deeper. Start to educate yourself on why asparagus benefits the digestive system, or how lemon water alkalizes the body. The more you learn, the more interested your brain becomes in eating those nutrient-rich foods. It starts to crave them, and that is the ultimate goal. All you have to do after that is find recipes that you like with your newfound healthy foods.