Do you want to lose weight but feel like you can't stop eating cake, hamburgers, french toast or french fries? Well, you’re not alone — and new research is saying that this doesn't mean you'll never be able to lose weight. That’s because a recent study involving brain scans is showing that you can actually rewire your brain to change your food preferences.
In other words, you can teach your brain to enjoy unhealthy food less and to enjoy healthy food more.
The new research, conducted by scientists at Tufts University and at Massachusetts General Hospital, examined the brains of 13 overweight and obese adults. Some of them followed a weight loss program designed to change how they reacted to food. Then, scientists peeked inside their brains to see how well the program was actually working.
Incredibly, magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs) of the brains of the participants who followed the weight loss program revealed dramatic changes in the areas of the brain associated with addiction. The brain scans showed that this area became both more sensitive to healthy food AND showed a decrease in its response to unhealthy, junk food. Amazing!
As a senior author on the study, Susan B. Roberts, Ph.D., put it: “We don’t start out in life loving French fries and hating, for example, whole wheat pasta."
“This conditioning happens over time in response to eating — repeatedly! — what is out there in the toxic food environment,” she said.
The study makes researchers hopeful that dramatic weight loss is possible for those who struggle with addiction to unhealthy food by shifting their food preferences at the deepest level.
The results were published on Monday in the journal Nutrition & Diabetes.