14 December 2012,

It’s amazing how healthy intentions sometimes get the best of us. But how do we actually get over the hump of wanting to change versus simply saying it?


We could all use a helping hand when it comes to improving and enhancing our eating habits, and an interesting study shows that just by eating junk food we show heightened neural responsivity to it. This is important, as heightened neural sensitivity means that you’ll be intrinsically more motivated to seek out that kind of food. The more motivated you are, the more you’ll eat. And so the chain of overeating begins.


In a recent study by Stice et al, (2012) authors determined that regular ice cream eaters were more vulnerable and sensitive to craving upon viewing ice cream related cues. In this study, 151 lean adolescents were asked to participate in a brain scan while drinking either a milkshake or a tasteless solution. Researchers found that people who self reported eating ice cream on a regular basis had greater activation in the regions of the brain associated with craving than those people who reported eating less ice cream.


Probably the most interesting part of the study was that researchers also measured body fat. So, it was not so much the physiological make up that was related to greater ice cream craving*, but rather the exposure to ice cream that caused greater craving. The previous study suggests that consuming ice cream on a regular basis will lead to future consumption of more ice cream. While the subjects were all lean, it’s unlikely that over time they will be able to include a diet with high concentrations of high fat/ high sweet foods and maintain their current weight.


All of this goes to show that the sooner you can ditch highly palatable, highly pleasant foods, the less sensitive your brain will be to the cues related to these foods, and this might ultimately help you avoid these foods altogether.


At least, I hope this gives some insight into a tricky problem…
(Burger & Stice, 2012)



Burger, K. S., & Stice, E. (2012). Frequent ice cream consumption is associated with reduced striatal response to receipt of an ice cream-based milkshake. Am J Clin Nutr, 95(4), 810-817.




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