Ever feel like you can’t stop eating once you start? This is largely due to food companies that use their snacks to manipulate your brain into a constant state of craving. Naturally our bodies are designed to eat a variety of different foods. So when we have eaten too much of one distinct flavour, our body responds by decreasing your desire to continue eating that food. However successful food companies like Doritos, Cheetos or Coca-cola have found a way around this – by using products that have several subtle flavours. This means that the usual signal sent to our brain after eating too much of one food is not transmitted, so we feel like we can eat only crisps or drink coke for ever!
Snacking has now become a battle between your brain activity and modern food science. Unless we know and understand the how the brain works, the food industry will win every time. Here are a few tips to set you on the right path, based on neuropsychological research.
1. Buy healthy snacks. It has been said that it is easier to avoid temptation than to resist it. This may seem obvious, but don’t buy unhealthy snacks. Your brain is generally lazy, and is most likely to go for whatever is easiest. I think the key is not to deprive ourselves when our body is craving food, but to replace unhealthy snacks with a healthier version. This way you can satisfy your craving without having to eat unhealthily.
Many people begin to prefer the healthier-version, as their body and mind feel better after consuming it.
2. Portion your snacks. The neurotransmitter dopamine is released to make you finish tasks you have started. So if you open a packet of crisps, your brain views this as a challenge to finish the whole thing, and continues to release dopamine until you have. So how can you stop your brain from pushing you towards finishing a whole bag of crisps even if you do not actively want to? Put the portion that you want to eat in a bowl or a bag. This way dopamine fires until you finish your set portion, rather than the entire thing. This might sound trivial, but it’s usually good enough to trick your brain.
These crunchy chickpeas are a great alternative to crisps, they keep you full but without the saturated fat, salt and sugar that crisps contain. Carry a small portion in a bag to stop over-consumption!
1 can of chickpeas
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon of caynne pepper
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1. Rinse and drain the chickpeas
2. Combine the oil, smoked paprika cumin, cinnamon, cayenne and salt in a large bowl. (Go easy of the cayenne if you aren’t good with spicy foods!)
3. Add chickpeas and coat evenly.
4. Spread chickpeas out on a baking tray. Bake until golden and crispy, 25 to 35 minutes, shaking the tray to toss after 15 minutes.
5.Remove the baking sheet from the oven and transfer the chickpeas to a serving bowl.
6. Add chopped parsley to serve
They are so easy and cheap to make, I first made them as appetizers for a dinner party but now carry them around in my bag as a snack. Also, the seasoning possibilities are endless…you can tailor them to your liking using garlic, paprika, salt or whatever you fancy. I went with spicy, smoked flavour and everyone seemed to love them!