I have often joked that if I could ask God one thing, it would be why he chose to make broccoli taste like broccoli and chocolate taste like chocolate. Why couldn’t the flavors be reversed?
A new study indicates that while we can’t reverse the flavors, we may be able to change the reward these foods give us. It has been documented before that the reward centers of the brain “light up” more on MRI when we eat or think about eating unhealthy foods compared to when we eat or think about healthy foods. In this study, overweight people were shown pictures of healthy and unhealthy items while having an MRI before and after 6 months of diet education and following a weight loss diet. The “after” images showed that the reward centers lit up less for the unhealthy foods and more for the healthy foods than they had at the beginning. Short version, after following a diet, people got more pleasure from healthy foods and less pleasure from unhealthy foods.
There are always limitations to research. This was a small study. They only used a limited number of food images. Perhaps if they had shown different foods the results would have been different. But it is encouraging.
Take home message: Eating healthy foods may get easier in the long run. Broccoli and carrots may never taste like chocolate, but we may get more pleasure out of eating them if we follow a healthy diet over the long run.
Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!