Why do we crave unhealthy foods? A healthy weight loss diet program often becomes a battleground between our desire to lose weight quickly, and snack cravings based on unhealthy food choices. We may not be what we eat, but research indicates that we desire the foods that we have grown accustomed to eating, so you could say that we crave what we eat. If you have created a pattern of eating ice cream for pleasure or when under stress, it should be no surprise that you will have a hankering for ice cream under the right conditions. Pavlov’s Dog, by any other name, is still Pavlov’s Dog.
But if we have, in effect, trained ourselves to want unhealthy snacks or foods, the reverse may also be true: we can train ourselves to crave healthy snacks and food. If we can do this, a bland tasting weight loss supplement could become just as desirable as a sweet roll.
I never craved coffee until I started drinking it. The same goes for double chocolate chip ice cream. The taste for coffee and chocolate must be learned through exposure to these foods and their flavors. If people who live in more primitive cultures in the jungle can have a hankering to snack on creepy-crawly insects unique to their habitat, surely we can develop our own desire for a decent, healthy snack, healthy fast food, and healthy food recipe choices when preparing meals.
So how do we re-program ourselves to turn a craving for sweets into something on the healthy food list? To quote a line from a movie, “Build it and they will come.” In this case, if we build the habit of making healthy food choices at meal and snack time, we will begin to want those foods instead of the ones we’ve given up.
There is a lot of pleasure associated with these snacking experiences, and most of us are reluctant to give them up. But if we can get ourselves to substitute some simple healthy food and snack recipes, we can train our mental and physical taste buds to desire them, and a new pleasure-association will be formed around the new healthy food choice or recipe.
Recent research has proven this. The results showed that new cravings can be formed to replace old ones, even though the new ones are based on bland, healthy foods, and the original ones were the tried and true fat and sugar tasty delights. The best news? It may only require one week to do it.
I’ve addressed some healthy snack ideas to use for re-training our cravings in another article. (It contains healthy snack ideas that also apply to children.) For now, I’ll give just a few examples of healthy snack food substitutions.
If you don’t want such a jolt to your taste buds right out of the gate, you can make it a two-step process in some cases. For example, when the seemingly uncontrollable urge for chocolate ice cream hits, instead have a coffee cup or glass of Chocolate Ovaltine and milk. Ovaltine is not like the junky chocolate milk mixes pitched to kids. Think of it instead as a healthy fast food snack. It contains vitamins and minerals, and if you use one or two tablespoons instead of the recommended four, not too much sugar.
Step two: Purchase a good chocolate flavored whey protein mix from your local health food supplier (or the flavor of your choice) and use it instead of the Ovaltine. These protein supplements are not healthy eating anything like they used to be. In the past, they would NOT mix without a blender, and they tasted pretty bad. Not so anymore. They mix quickly by simply stirring or shaking, and the flavors are quite good. Trust me.
Now you’ve turned a fat and sugar ice cream binge into a healthy fast food choice: a protein supplement! In addition, it’s far more filling and satisfying. You won’t be tempted to eat anything as quickly as you would if you had succumbed and eaten ice cream.