How to Make Yourself Crave Healthy Foods, According to a Nutritionist

Lindsey Metrus
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Urban Outfitters

When we think of the word "cravings," our mind instantly wanders to fast food, salt, sweets, and Chrissy Teigen's first stab as an author (her cookbook, Cravings, is aptly named, considering it's full of Frito Pie, fried chicken, and the like). "Craving" is seldom a word paired with anything leafy, green, or plant-based (and no, french fries don't count). Unfortunately, we don't crave foods that are good for us—eating healthfully usually manifests itself in a begrudgingly slow movement from our salad bowl to our mouths, followed by a disappointed face as we chew. Why can't we yearn for spinach the way we yearn for a donut? Should we resort to hypnotism? Positive reinforcement? We need answers.

Loving bad food is a learned behavior and a product of our environment—we aren't inherently wired to want cheeseburgers and milkshakes. Of course, this means having an affinity for nutritious foods can be conditioned as well. In fact, a recent study found that obese individuals who were put on a special healthy diet plan had a greater affinity for healthy food after a six-month period. The participants' brain activities were measured using an MRI, and when shown pictures of healthy food, the reward system areas in their brains were triggered, whereas pictures of unhealthy food did not provide this same level of stimulus. So how do we get to the point of conditioning ourselves to want healthy foods (without necessarily going on a diet plan)? We turned to Keri Glassman, New York–based dietitian and creator of the blog Nutritious Life (as well as some additional psychology-backed resources), to figure out how to genuinely want to be a healthier person. Ready to overhaul your cravings? Keep reading!

What's your favorite healthy snack? Please share the recipe with us in the comments!

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