Learn How to Love Healthy Foods (Page 6)

Mind Your Sweet Choices

Mind Your Sweet Choices

Research shows that artificially sweetened foods play games with your mind. While consuming either the fake stuff or the real deal stimulates the rewards area of the brain, artificial sweeteners activate this section more, according to a 2011 study in the journal Neuro­Image. And a greater reward leads to more cravings. Adding to the "keep eating" mindset is artificial sugar's amped-up sweetness. "It's about 400 to 13,000 times as sweet as sugar. And over time, your brain and taste buds become accustomed to—and prefer—intensely sweet flavors over natural sweetness," says David Katz, M.D., M.P.H., founding director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center and an EatingWell advisor. (The less-sweet taste of foods with natural sugars often simply doesn't cut it anymore.) The good news is you can rehabilitate your taste buds and brain. "If you gradually cut out artificial sweeteners from your diet, you will lose your taste for them," says Katz. "After about two weeks, your brain will unconsciously start to become used to less sweetness. After three months, it'll be a habit. After six months, your brain and taste buds will, essentially, refuse the overly sweet stuff."

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