Do you find yourself constantly craving junk food? You know exactly what we mean: cupcakes, French fries, bacon, bacon, more bacon. You’re not alone here. The good news is that there’s hope on the horizon for those hoping to quiet those common cravings and it comes from a new brain scan study, published in Nutrition & Diabetes.
As much as you might believe that you were born loving bacon (and we really want to believe this), the fact is that your body has conditioned itself over years of enjoying calorific, fattening foods. As a result, your brain reward center has increased sensitivity to these unhealthy food items. Researchers from Tufts University recently conducted a study to determine if the formed food addiction circuits are permanent, or if they can be reversed over time.
The researchers put two sets of participants – one that completed a weight loss program and one control group – through a set of MRI brain scans at the beginning and end of a six-month period. According to EurekAlert, the scans of those in the weight loss program revealed that there were changes in the areas of the brain reward center associated with learning and addiction. This portion of the brain showed increased sensitivity to and enjoyment of healthier food cues as well as decreased sensitivity to unhealthy foods.
The study’s results are certainly encouraging. Individuals who have gained weight over years can – theoretically – reverse their junk food temptations in a span of several months. Replacing hot dog and ice cream binges with cravings for quinoa salad and stir-fried greens with black beans may sound a little crazy, but it's possible!
Start off your healthy eating plan with one of these recipes on Food Republic: