Question

Eating Habits and Nutrition

How can I learn to like healthy foods?

A Answers (1)

  • AJoel Fuhrman, MD, Family Medicine, answered
    The key to reprogramming yourself to eat healthy is to select an activity that elicits the desired objective, and then perform this activity habitually. As you continue to perform this activity, your skill will improve, your brain will reprogram to the preferred wiring, and your desired outcome will manifest itself. Your brain is not only flexible and adaptable, but it will restructure itself to accommodate whatever lifestyle you wish to create.

    Just as you cannot expect to develop a perfect tennis swing or learn how to play a musical instrument without both good instruction and a tremendous amount of practice, you cannot hope to transform your health without the ongoing process of putting your new knowledge into action. Moving in the right direction, improving the way you eat, and learning how to handle social situations that encourage bad habits are all part of an ongoing process of change. It is a process that requires time and effort and the ability to learn from mistakes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect.

    It is not enough simply to know what to do. You need to do it. You need to practice preparing recipes and eating super-healthful meals until such time as they begin to satisfy your desire for pleasurable eating. Anyone who has become accomplished at demanding activities, such as sports and music, will tell you that it can be difficult to learn new things. It is not easy to develop new habits, and there is no such thing as a shortcut to developing new skills and expertise. Likewise, it takes practice and perseverance to eat healthfully.

    When you do something over and over, it creates a pathway in the brain that makes it easier and more comfortable to repeat it again later. However, while change may be difficult, it is not impossible. What is needed is a strong desire and motivation to change, a willingness to be uncomfortable, and a determination to work on it until you get it right.

    The more you make healthful meals, and the more days you link together eating healthful foods, the more your brain will naturally prefer to eat this way. Your taste for healthful foods will develop. It has been shown that a new food needs to be eaten about fifteen times for it to become a preferred food. The more days you eat healthfully, the more you will lose your addiction to unhealthful, stimulating substances. With time, you will look forward to -- and prefer eating -- a diet that is more natural and wholesome.
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