When we are hungry, the hormone ghrelin stimulates the brain. Our brains pay more attention to cues for unhealthy foods—those which are high in sugar and fat—than healthy foods when we are hungry. 

It may be possible to train ourselves to ignore tempting cues.

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Health

Forbidden foods are more tempting

Dieting often involves “giving up” more pleasurable foods in an attempt to reduce calorie intake. But if we are asked to avoid eating the food we enjoy, researchers have found that we will crave it.

The behavioral and cognitive response to deprivation may inadvertently be creating more temptation.

A problem with dieting rules is that only a small violation—a sneaky slice of cake, for example—is enough to derail the whole diet. Researchers call this the “what-the-hell effect”. 

Diets that require the dieter to follow rigid rules or forbid them from consuming foods they enjoy appear to be problematic, as they paradoxically increase the risk of overeating. 

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The brain’s response to caloric restriction tends to be to increase cravings for foods that are highly rewarding and reducing our perception of being full. 

Diets frequently fail because they have an endpoint and are not a real lifestyle change. Maintaining a lifestyle that promotes a healthy weight and metabolism is often a lifelong journey. 

3

IDEAS

Make peace with food

Give yourself “unconditional permission to eat.”

People realize they don’t really want that food that was forbidden before; they just got caught up in society telling them they couldn’t have it.

Be kind to yourself

See yourself in a positive light. Envision your future self, six months to a year and consider how great you'll look and feel.

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