Most people struggle with their weight at one point or another. It’s easy to gain a few pounds without noticing over the holidays when cookies and treats seem to be on every counter top. And at times it’s necessary to grab unhealthy food on the run when you’re working overtime or taking care of kids or aging parents.

Researchers have determined that people who are obese are at risk for cognitive decline. How are the two related? Obesity can lead to cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Both of these conditions reduce blood flow to the brain. Because the brain needs a constant supply of fresh oxygen to thrive, reduced blood flow can lead to dementia.

There’s a certain type of obesity with a strong link to dementia. Central obesity is a type of obesity where most of the body fat is distributed on the trunk (throughout the chest, abdomen and buttocks). This type of obesity is related to fat on the organs rather than fat under the skin. It’s a potent risk factor for diabetes, stroke, and cardiovascular disease. There is also strong evidence regarding the link between central obesity and dementia.

So, how can you prevent or change central obesity to protect your brain health? Following the MIND-Diet is a great place to start.

Following the MIND-Diet might mean a few changes for you and your family. Do you grab fast food on the way home from work? That’s a great habit to kick as you begin to change your diet.

Fast food is usually high in calories and saturated fat. One study found that eating one fast food meal a day used about 50% of people’s daily calories and almost all of their daily fat allowance. This intense dose of calories and fat is probably why fast food can feel so satisfying.

Even passing by a fast food restaurant on your commute puts you more at risk for obesity. Can you change up your drive or bus route to avoid fast food restaurants? If you can’t, next time you have a craving for fast food, opt to stop by a market instead. You can grab something easy like a salad and an apple, or get the ingredients to make a healthy version of your favorite fast food meal at home.

If going out is a must to please your boss or mother-in-law, suggest a restaurant with healthier choices.