When I mention “comfort food” I doubt you think of raw carrots or garbanzo beans but comfort foods may be a state of mind according to a recent study. The study proved that cravings for unhealthy food can be fixed and those cravings can be replaced with cravings for healthy food. The only thing you have to do to decrease cravings for unhealthy food is eat more healthy food.
The study demonstrated that food cravings are learned over time. Our bodies are programmed to seek nutrition but because we like to eat we experiment with food that looks, smells and tastes good even when that food is really bad for us. No one starts life loving french fries and pizza but lots of us end up there.
I see it everyday in my one year old. He loves whole milk and cottage cheese. He will stick anything in his mouth and try it, he may or may not eat it, but he loves to eat whole milk and cottage cheese. To this point in his life his diet has consisted mostly of milk based products. It’s what he knows….but I digress…
Back to the study. Researchers found that if participants weaned themselves off of bad foods over a six month period by eating smaller and smaller portions and increasing their intake of fiber rich and nutritious foods then cravings for the bad foods diminished. They also found that participants in the study switched cravings from bad foods to good foods and to prove it they showed participants pictures of both types of foods while they underwent an MRI. By the end of the study the nutritious foods triggered the brain’s reward system. Good foods made participants happier than bad foods.
Kind of gives new meaning to the term “comfort food”.