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Gay and Lesbian. Graphic Novels. Historical Fiction. Humor and Comedy. Science Fiction. Self Help. Young Adult. Sandra Jones I'm not some crazy person who thinks genes don't matter. But if there are so many good reasons for healthy eating, why is it so difficult to actually do? To answer that question, we should start by learning why we crave junk food.
Before we talk about how to get started, let's pause for just a second. If you're enjoying this article on healthy eating, then you'll probably find my other writing on performance and human behavior useful. Each week, I share self-improvement tips based on proven scientific research through my free email newsletter. You'll get one email every Monday and Thursday. No spam guaranteed. Unsubscribe at any time.
Don't see a signup form? Send me a message here and I'll add you right away. Steven Witherly is a food scientist who has spent the last 20 years studying what makes certain foods more addictive than others. First, there is the sensation of eating the food. This includes what it tastes like salty, sweet, umami, etc.
Food companies will spend millions of dollars to discover the most satisfying level of crunch in a potato chip. Food scientists will test for the perfect amount of fizzle in a soda. These elements all combine to create the sensation that your brain associates with a particular food or drink. The second factor is the actual macronutrient makeup of the food — the blend of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates that it contains.
In the case of junk food, food manufacturers are looking for a perfect combination of salt, sugar, and fat that excites your brain and gets you coming back for more. There is a range of factors that scientists and food manufacturers use to make food more addictive.
Dynamic contrast. Dynamic contrast refers to a combination of different sensations in the same food. This rule applies to a variety of our favorite food structures — the caramelized top of a creme brulee, a slice of pizza, or an Oreo cookie — the brain finds crunching through something like this very novel and thrilling. Salivary response. For example, emulsified foods like butter, chocolate, salad dressing, ice cream, and mayonnaise promote a salivary response that helps to lather your taste buds with goodness.
This is one reason why many people enjoy foods that have sauces or glazes on them. Rapid food meltdown and vanishing caloric density. He zeroed right in on the Cheetos. Your brain likes variety.
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When it comes to food, if you experience the same taste over and over again, then you start to get less pleasure from it. In other words, the sensitivity of that specific sensor will decrease over time. This can happen in just minutes. Junk foods, however, are designed to avoid this sensory specific response.
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This is why you can swallow an entire bag of potato chips and still be ready to eat another. Calorie density. Receptors in your mouth and stomach tell your brain about the mixture of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates in a particular food, and how filling that food is for your body. Memories of past eating experiences.
This is where the psychobiology of junk food really works against you. When you eat something tasty say, a bag of potato chips , your brain registers that feeling.creatoranswers.com/modules/chittenden/786.php
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The next time you see that food, smell that food, or even read about that food, your brain starts to trigger the memories and responses that came when you ate it. These factors all combine to make processed food tasty and desirable to our human brains. When you combine the science behind these foods with the incredible prevalence of food cheap fast food everywhere , eating healthy becomes very hard to do. Most people think that building better habits or changing your actions is all about willpower or motivation.
But the more I learn, the more I believe that the number one driver of behavior change is your environment. Your environment has an incredible ability to shape your behavior. Nowhere is this more true than with food.
What we eat on a daily basis is often a result of what we are presented. Let me share an interesting experiment to show you exactly what I mean….
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This study secretly took place in the hospital cafeteria and helped thousands of people develop healthy eating habits without changing their willpower or motivation in the slightest way. The researchers started by changing the choice architecture of the drinks in the cafeteria. Originally, there were three main refrigerators, all of which were filled with soda. The researchers made sure that water was added to each of those units and also placed baskets of bottled water throughout the room.
The image below depicts what the room looked like before the changes Figure A and after the changes Figure B. The dark boxes indicate areas where bottled water is available. What happened? Over the next 3 months, the number of soda sales dropped by Meanwhile, bottled water sales increased by Similar adjustments and results were made with food options. Nobody said a word to the visitors who ate at the cafeteria. The researchers simply changed the environment and people naturally followed suit.
Choice architecture is even more important when you're already stressed, tired, or distracted. That means that if you take just a little bit of time today to organize your room, your office, your kitchen, and other areas, then that adjustment in choice architecture can guide you toward better choices even when your willpower is fading. Design for laziness.
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Brian Wansink is a professor at Cornell University, and he has completed a variety of studies on how your environment shapes your eating decisions. Here are some of his best practical strategies for using choice architecture to make healthy eating easier. Use smaller plates. Bigger plates mean bigger portions. And that means you eat more. The picture below explains why. When you eat a small portion off of a large plate, your mind feels unsatisfied. Meanwhile, the same portion will feel more filling when eaten off of a small plate.
Want to drink less alcohol or soda? Use tall, slender glasses instead of short, fat ones.
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