Can’t stop at one tasty anything? ‘There are three ‘feeding’ centres in the brain’, says legendary weight loss authority Susan B Roberts, Professor of Nutrition and Psychiatry at Tufts University Boston, author of the BS-free weight loss book The I Diet (Workman £9.99). ‘Hunger-satiety, reward and pleasure’. We all have five important food ‘instincts’ and understanding them can help us control our own feeding centres and not gorge as often chocolate digestives.
Instinct 1: HUNGER Control it: Make sure every meal and every snack makes you feel satisfied and cuts hunger with one or more of the following compositions: high fibre, high-protein/low-carb, high volume. Try: two oatcakes with no-sugar peanut butter
Instinct 2: AVAILABILITY Control it: Make changes to your food environment to avoid temptation for junk food and overeating. Try: Keep your kitchen stocked with ready-to-eat, healthy and satisfied foods. Keep eating out for special occasions.
Instinct 3: CALORIE DENSITY Control it: Most people love the delicious decadence of a rich treat every now and then. Go for it. Try: ‘Sandwiching’ your treats with healthy food. So take small portions of the high calorie food you fancy, for example that slither of high fat Brie, alongside low calorie, high-fibre, healthy foods to keep you full and satisfied, for example with an all-raw salad and wholemeal pitta bread.
Instinct 4: FAMILIARITY Control it: Human beings love routines and rituals, especially when it comes to eating. You can flip this instinct and create healthy habits and rituals too. Try: Eat at regular times so your body will learn not to expect food at other times. Try and break habits for eating junk food at certain times of the day, for example chocolate in the afternoon so you’re body stops expecting it – far from the 21 day myth, it usually takes about a week of not eating chocolate or sugar to stop craving the stuff, especially if you replace your fix with something healthy and satiating (read, with a little natural fat in to help you feel satisfied) such as almonds, peanuts or pistachios. That way you can have your occasional indulgent treats without making them habitual – cos you ain’t no Pavlov’s Dog, okay.
Instinct 5: VARIETY Control it: We have evolved to love variety in food, but again this can be used to healthy advantage. Try: It’s boring but by George, it works. Keep a low variety of unhealthy foods available to yourself, for example, if your kids love crisps, keep them in the house but in one flavour (preferably that you’re not fond of). Then ensure you always have a high variety of healthy foods available to you – find out about different vegetables in season (thinkvegetables.co.uk is brilliant). Good variety in healthy foods will increase your satisfaction and keep you excited about your newfound healthier eating.
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