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Reprogramming the brain to eat better

  •  May 28, 2020

We get used to eating junk food throughout our lives. But with science and common sense it is possible to "fool" the brain and reprogram the reason for making healthier choices at the table.

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Our relationship with food was crucial to the survival of the human species.

Whether by mastering fire or carving tools for hunting as we evolve, we begin to use the tools that were associated with food preparation.

It was the consumption of cooked food that made the brains of our species triple in size.

At this point, even chewing influenced us, causing the jaw of the first hominids to shrink, as it was no longer necessary to tear the cartilage of slaughtered animals in the teeth.

Sharing food has also made us a gregarious species from which we form families, tribes, and cities.

For all that, changing what we eat as a result of habits acquired and past in thousands of years is a complicated task.

Changing our relationship to food requires us to reprogram our most fundamental patterns of behavior.

It's possible, but it's not easy, which is why so many dietary resolutions are bound to fail in more than 90% of cases.

We think we understand the act of eating as a functional process that goes from the perception of taste to swallowing, from digestion to nutrition.

But it is more than that.

Eating habits influence not only physical health but also our mental state, our intelligence, our character and personality.

It all starts before birth.

The flavors of the foods the mother eats, for example, find their way into the fetus through the amniotic fluid, and after delivery unconsciously become her favorite palates.

And the foods we are exposed to during the first two years of life determine what we want to eat in adulthood.

So what can we do?

As parents, both before and after the birth of our children, we can expose them to as many and varied foods as possible.

We should not block your access to sweets, but humans were not designed to eat too much sugar.

Similarly, some fats are good as long as they are not excessive.

And above all, we need protein.

But for those programmed to favor too much sugar or salt, a smarter approach to changing these habits is needed.

Faced with instincts that block the understanding of rational information, it is necessary to act intelligently.

Imagine making a cup of coffee with just one coffee bean; the result would be very tasteless.

But consider drinking a cup of hot water and then eating a coffee bean.

You can do the same with food, exercise the release of certain flavors to maximize their impact on taste.

There are, in fact, many points of sensory contact that affect the way we perceive flavors.

Strange as it may seem, deceiving any of our senses can dramatically increase the impact on taste.

The weight of the glass in which you drink something may change the taste it contains, and the weight of the cutlery may change the taste of the food.

The shape and colors of the plates and even the presence of a mirror in front of the table also change the perception of taste.

So instead of penalizing the pocket with food surcharges, one of the most efficient ways to change our eating habits is to fool the brain.

Although it involves the organ of reason, this is not a rational approach to the problem, but in fact an emotional one.

Precisely because eating is an instinctive act and not a rational activity.

Leaving aside the rational is a real challenge for health public policy makers.

But if they want society to become less obese, they must realize that laws are often the worst way to change human behavior.

Tricking Your Brain into Healthier Eating Habits HD (May 2020)