In Part 2 of our series on Bright Line Eating, we chat with highly regarded neuroscientist Dr Sandra Aamodt about the neuroscience of body weight. The weight loss industry like to tell us that what we weigh is a matter of personal choice, when in reality, our bodies have a “defended weight range”, commonly known as the set point, which resists weight loss. On diets, our bodies release a whole cascade of hormonal and physiological processes which take us back to where our bodies feel comfortable. We also talk about how food addiction – is it real? Or are the people pushing these ideas just peddling a re-packaged eating disorder?
Welcome to all fired up. I’m Louise your host and this is the podcast where we talk all things anti diet. Has diet culture got you in a fit of rage is the injustice of the beauty ideal getting your knickers in a twist? Does Fitspo make you want to spit -spo? Are you ready to hurl if you hear one more weight loss tip? Are you ready to be mad, loud and proud? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s get all fired up. Thanks for tuning into part two of our fascinating, digitally remastered and updated series on the food addiction cult called bright line eating. Today we’re going to be talking about well some much needed facts about neuroscience from Dr. Sandra Aamodt. This is a must hear episode. If you’ve ever wondered about food addiction and whether or not there’s anything in there. If you love us here on all fired up. Please help us spread the word. And go to wherever you get your podcasts and leave us a really fiery five star rating and lovely review. And of course, if you’re not subscribed yet, please follow us so you don’t miss out on a single rant. And we’re coming out every week now and you don’t want to miss out at all. Now to some good stuff free stuff. There’s a brand new version of my free ebook everything you’ve been told about weight loss is bullshit by me and the wonderful anti diet dietitian Dr. Fiona Willer. In the ebook, we are busting those myths that float around diet culture like poo in a swimming pool, all about this relationship between weight and health. We are busting the top 10 myths that are out there. I’ve completely updated it. And now it includes mythbusting about weight loss drug which is just gorgeous, because I really wanted to add that for ages. It feels great to get this out. So please go now and download it, read it, share it with everyone in your life, friends, family members, medical and health professionals. Just head to the website and trapped.com.au and it will pop up or you can go to instart untrapped underscore au and click on the link in the bio Knowledge is power my friends. The all fired up podcast is brought to you by our brand new untrapped Academy which is a wonderful source of anti diet information, skills, training and support all in lovely digestible chunks. We have some amazing anti diet speakers and topics in there already. So we have Dianne Bondy, Christy Harrison, Sabrina Strings, Ragen Chastain, Fiona Sutherland, Sofie Hagen,
E-K Daufin, Lacey Jade Christie, Ash Gillon, Fiona Willer, and Megan Crabbe. Last, there’s talks and skills training sessions on topics like regular eating your body autobiography, and binge eating. And we’re adding some dazzling new stuff every single month. Join us we’re a massive bargain. You can try us for the first month for just one or the dollar. So seriously, what have you got to lose? Go to untrapped.com.au and check us out. I really hope to see you there. Okay, on with the show. Let’s have a chat now to another neuroscientist who has also experienced her own issues with food. Dr. Sandra Aamodt, Dr. Aamodt is a neuroscientist and a science writer. And she has written the book why diets make us fat, the unintended consequences of our obsession with weight loss. And she’s also got this awesome TED talk that you can look at on why she stopped dieting and switched into mindful eating. And it’s been watched by four and a half million people. So this is it’s an excellent TED Talk. Before she was an author, Dr. Aamodt was the editor in chief of Nature Neuroscience, a leading scientific journal in the field of brain research. She knows her stuff. She has an undergraduate degree in biophysics from John Hopkins University and a PhD in neuroscience from the University of Rochester, which, interestingly is exactly the same university as Susan Peirce Thompson, where she is currently an adjunct psychology professor. So just fascinating to think of two neuroscientists with very similar interests and experience are completely different conclusions. So Dr. Aamodt chatted with me a few weeks ago from her home in Northern California. So without further ado, here is me and Dr. Aamodt. Once again, everyone I want to issue a severe trigger warning for this episode, we’re gonna be talking in detail about eating disorders and eating disorder, behavior, weight numbers, basically, all the bad stuff is going to be in the This episode, if that is not gonna do you any solid, please step out. We’re only talking about this stuff because it’s important to understand the dangers of diet culture bullshit. But no podcast is worth your mental health. So you do you look after you, but on with the show.
So Sandra, thank
you so much for joining us today.
Oh, it’s great to be here.
And so I’m, I’m really fascinated, because I watched your TED talk a number of years ago, where you were talking about why diets fail. And ever since then, you know, in my work as a clinical psychologist, I’ve been any chance I get, I will tell clients to go and watch your TED Talk, at some point during the therapy, because I thought the way you delivered really succinctly not that I can even say that word, the evidence on why people struggle so much with dieting and weight cycling, was just brilliant. So thank you so much for doing that TED Talk. Because over the years, you’ve saved me a lot of time explaining, like the neuroscience of weight cycling.
I’m really glad to hear that. That’s what I’m gonna do.
Yeah, I think I mean, I mean, at the time, I’m not sure there was many talks out there
that that talked about this. Is that right? Not a lot. I’ve done a few since then that dive much deeper into the evidence. But the nice thing about that one is they force you to keep it so short.
Yeah, yeah. And it must, I mean, it must be just hard to get all of that information into just like a 15 minute talk. So hats off to you. And then since then you’ve written the book, which is called why diets make us fat. And you’ve got even more information in there about the neuroscience that sort of underpins our body weight. And thank you again, for writing that book. Because like, that’s a much more detailed exploration of all of this.
Glad you liked it. So you are a neuroscientist. And you’ve got a special interest, obviously, in weight science. How did you get interested in that area of the
brain, and its functions. I got pulled into that, from my own personal experience, like a lot of young girls. My mother made a comment to me at one point when I was about 13 years old. Strangely enough, I hadn’t remembered what what she said, but she remembered, really, it was that I was eating like a fat person. Well, and I was, I was not even slightly overweight at that time. And I look back at pictures of myself, and I just think, what were you doing? Yeah. But at the in the moment with my 13 year old brain, the answer seemed very clear that I needed to lose 10 pounds, or maybe 20 would be better. And so I went through this very complicated plan where I was going to eat almost nothing. And I wasn’t allowed to open the refrigerator in the kitchen, I bought my own food, and I put it in the refrigerator in the basement. And that was the only thing I was allowed to eat is almost like an eating disorder just sprang full blown from my brain in that moment.
I think that can be the experience, right? For some people, that one comment at a really vulnerable moment, because I imagined at the age of 12, or 13, you’re growing,
I had just hit my full adult height. And I was weirdly towering over all the other kids in my class. And very, very awkward. You know, that stage when you’ve just been growing and you’re banging into things because you don’t know where your arms and Yeah,
Mike a little happy.
That’s, that’s pretty much where I was.
It’s heartbreaking, isn’t it to think that you’re growing, you’re probably hungry, which is, if your eating habits have changed, you’re probably hungry to catch up to the growth but that was perceived by your mom as wrong. But oh boy by your 13 year old brain as wrong, and something that needed to be reversed. And then that’s some pretty intense behavior that like you said, it sort of spring fully formed. You knew that you wanted to restrict and you did.
Yeah, so that pretty much went on started that year, and I lost the weight that I wanted to lose and then I stopped dieting and slowly gained it back has happened to almost everyone who diets Yeah, I did that pretty much every year, at least once for the next 20 years or so. Almost 30, actually 30 years. It was a lot of diets.
Wow. Yeah, it must have been tons of diets. And do you consider that to be sort of eating disordered.
I never technically met the definition of an eating disorder. But I veered awfully close a couple of times, there was a period of time where I had gotten down into a weight range that is underweight medically, and where I could see my ribs. And I was absolutely convinced that I just needed to lose a few more pounds. And I would finally be okay, I finally look okay, for the first time in my life. And it was really hard to snap out of that. There was a part of me that realized that this was not healthy and not a good idea, and that I did not want to go where this was going. And I remember really just fighting with myself, you are going to stop this. Because if you don’t stop, you’re going to end up in the hospital.
Wow, there’s a rational part of you that tried to sort of save you.
And did actually, yeah, but I remember vividly how difficult it was and how, how complicated eating became in that moment, when I was forcing myself to do it. Even though there was a part of me that just was fine with the idea of never eating again, felt, you know, sort of triumphant about it actually.
triumphant. Yeah, that’s one of those eating disorder. Red flag
finally figured out right, I finally I finally cracked the code. The code Yeah, right. And yeah, this this dual consciousness where one part of me was saying, No, you don’t understand where winning. And the other part of me was saying, No, you don’t understand. We’re headed for the hospital and you need to stop. Yeah. Ah,
wow. And you did that all by yourself.
You did it all by myself. Yeah. You’ve never
saw a therapist or had some eating disorder help? Nope. Wow. Wow. So how old? were you when you did sort of like when that rational part of you one.
So that happened when I was in my mid 20s? I think 26. Yeah. And I, but that’s not when I stopped dieting now. Yeah. But just maybe maybe part of the answer to I never got any eating disorder help. That I did, I did manage to keep myself from going completely off the deep end. But then I just went back to normal once a year dieting, which didn’t seem crazy at all to me at the time. So it kind of does now.
Yeah, you know, I guess in contrast to the cliff that you were falling off, just doing the kind of, you know, the rock of Sisyphus, pulling pushing the rock up the hill and then getting beaten down again, with weight cycling. What is saying? That’s more familiar.
Yeah, so it wasn’t until sometime in the mid 2000s. Not long after that, sort of when I when I got into my early 30s that I started getting exposed to some feminist writings about dieting. And it was really strange, because it was as if that framing suddenly unlocked a bunch of stuff that I had known for years, but hadn’t been paying any attention to. Oh, wow. I knew that weight was regulated physiologically, and that there was this sort of thermostat, that controlled weight that went through the brain and controlled how hungry you got and how your body burned energy and all these I knew all that stuff. Yeah. And somehow it hadn’t really occurred to me, that that was relevant to the fact that I kept losing and gaining the same 15 or 20 are in a bad year, sometimes 50 pounds, right? You haven’t connected
those dots, that your body belongs to the same realm of physiological science. Yeah, isn’t that interesting?
That’s really strange, right? You know, on the one hand, that you are a biological animal with physiological regulation, and at the same time, Um, how you know that culturally, everyone expects you to be able to control your body and what it looks like and how much you eat. And, and you just were both true and you you had to somehow navigate between them. Yeah. Until one day somebody said to me, you don’t have to do that.
What was the feminist writing that unlocked all of these?
It was a blog shapely prose?
Oh, yes, shamefully, prose. I’ve read some of that stuff. It’s excellent.
It was it was really quite good. It’s it stands up. It’s 20 years old now or something? It stands up very well.
Yeah. And so this helps you connect the dots and see how you are going. And then also look at the big picture of how society is going. And, and this is when things started to change for you.
So in 2009, I decided that I was just going to do an experiment and see if, if my weight would regulate properly, if I left it alone, wow, right stuff. And I, I couldn’t, I wasn’t ready to say I’m never going to dye it again. But I was willing to say, in 2010, I am not going to die it I’m going to eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full. And see what happens. Yeah,
after so many years, that would have been like revolution, time in your head.
Yeah, I was 42 years old. That happened. And I was very pleased with how it came out. As I say in the TED talk back to I didn’t gain any weight, I lost a little bit, and my weight stabilized. And none of that was really very important as it turned out. Because the biggest advantage of not dieting turned out to be psychological, and not not physical at all, just the simple amount of mental space that my weight, and my eating, were taking up in my brain turned out to be unbelievable. When it stopped. It was it was like, you know, there’s been ringing in your ears for your entire adult life. And suddenly somebody turns that noise off. And you you didn’t realize how much it was impairing your ability to do all of your normal daily tasks until it stops to.
That’s amazing. So at the beginning of the experiment, you thought that the outcome would be all about your weight. And as it turns out, that was really unimportant. Because you got psychologically, as you felt peace for the first time. Right?
I felt I felt free for the first time from this constant nagging anxiety and struggle.
How lovely. And by this time, of course, you’re a neuroscientist. So you’re putting this all together with what you know about brains and your own experience. And, and this is when you started to kind of put things out there.
Right? Yeah, as soon as it started working for me. I just for a while I was just terrible. I You couldn’t have me at a party without getting cornered and being lectured about weight regulation.
I was evangelical.
Yes, but it wouldn’t have made Yes. Because everything had changed. And what was What were people’s responses like when it’s not the kind of thing you usually hear at a party?
Yeah. So it was a considerable surprise to me that the most common response that I got hands down probably 90% of the time, from anybody who cared in the slightest and wasn’t just suddenly hit with the urge to go to the bathroom or get another drink was but what do I do? What do I do instead? And for a while I answered all of them with I don’t care and go learn to ride a unicycle that would be a better use of your time. And that was not very satisfying to people. Not at all. It turned out. You can’t just say don’t die it you have to tell people what they can do instead. Yeah, they are they can’t hear you. That’s
that’s such a great point, isn’t it? We’re so you used to being told what to do with our bodies and with our food or with our movement, or you’re constantly policing and trying to control it, that your message of just don’t control it was it’s too uncomfortable.
People couldn’t handle it. And, you know, they all wanted somebody who would give them a prescription of exactly what they should be doing instead. And so eventually, I found my way to the concept of mindful eating, which is quite similar to intuitive eating, and just gives a little bit of a structure and a framework for how to make the transition. From dieting to not dieting.
Yes, I like that. Yeah, it’s some kind of structure, it’s a little bit of it’s, for some people, it can still be interpreted as a set of rules of how to eat or what to eat. But it can be a transition step into a more connected way of eating and more relaxed way of relating to everything.
Yeah, when I first stopped dieting, I didn’t have any idea if I was hungry or not. Well, how would you
if you’ve spent years ignoring all of those body signals? And just trying to follow rules of deprivation?
Yeah, let’s take a while to come back right? Took took me about six months to get a decent grip on it, and a couple of years, to get to the point where, even if I’m deep in conversation, or I’m concentrating on something, I still notice when I’m done eating. Or notice when I’m hungry when I was in grad school, I used to skip lunch pretty frequently, just because it didn’t occur to me to eat because I was busy.
Yeah. It’s so normal, isn’t it to push aside hunger signals until almost like our body stops reminding us?
Yeah, why would you? Why would you keep telling someone who continues to ignore you when you state your needs?
Yeah, yeah. Is that something that happens physiologically, in our in our brains, our brains stop sending us hunger signals after we’ve been ignoring them for
a long time. There’s a lot of psychological research showing that people who diet frequently are bad at picking up these interoceptive signals from their bodies, the sort of standardized test for that is the ability to feel your heart beating. So it’s a nice objective thing, they can put a monitor on you and know exactly how many times your heart beat during the period that you were asked to count. And you can count and rely on, they know whether you got the right answer or not. So it turns out that people who frequently diet are bad at counting the number of heartbeats that have happened in a period of time.
Wow, that’s so interesting, because we have trouble getting into our bodies and hearing them, but it’s nice, isn’t it that even after many years of ignoring them, even if it might take a few months to reconnect that you can hear that again? Because you said it took about six months to a couple of years, but you did start hearing the hunger. And now even if you’re really absorbed in something else, you’ll notice that
all knowledge from your body? Yeah, I’m much, much better at that than I used to be. Yeah,
brains are forgiving creatures, our bodies are forgiving. If learning takes time, but it’s all there.
All of all of those changes, all of those plastic changes that have happened, can be reversed if you take the time and energy to do it. Yeah,
yeah. And by the sound of it, you know, this has not been something you regretted this has been life changing for you.
Yeah, it’s, it was a huge upgrade.
When a great way to upgrade from dieting, to not dieting again into if it’s okay to talk a little bit about your knowledge of the neuroscience about body weight, because that’s, that’s fascinating. And you mentioned earlier that something about the
setpoint what is the setpoint? So scientists call it the defended range, which is a better term, because when you say setpoint people think, Oh, well, my weights not always exactly the same. The defended range is usually something on the order of 10 or 15 pounds, where your body is comfortable. And if you are exercising more and eating more vegetables and fewer prepared foods you probably probably going to be toward the bottom of that range. And if you are eating the opposite way, you’ll probably be toward the top. Basically, when you’re within your defended range, weight works the way random people on the internet think it works all the time. Okay, you can make your lifestyle changes and nudge it a little bit up or down. But that’s basically the defended range is the weight range in which your body and your brain are not fighting you.
This is where your body’s comfortable. It’s where
your body’s comfortable. Once you get outside that range in either direction, then your brain says, Okay, we’re in the wrong place, this is not right, you’re not regulating properly, we need to fix this. And then things really stop being a reliable reflection of calories in calories out. And the way you actually process food starts to change in dramatic ways. So if you go above your defended range, your metabolism will get, we’ll start to burn more calories, you will become less hungry. And generally, people will relax back into their defended range. If on the other hand, you go noticeably below your defended range, your body becomes more fuel efficient, you actually can move a greater distance and burn less energy in that state. Which if you think about it is a fantastic evolutionary adaptation to not having enough food where you are. Think of it from the perspective of somebody in a more normal human life where food is hard to find, the ability to walk a greater distance on the calories you have looking for more food would be fantastic. Yeah, yeah. For us, it means when you go to the gym and try to burn off more calories, you don’t, your effort doesn’t go as far. And then the other thing that happens, which actually turns out to be about three times bigger, and the fact is that you’ll get more hungry, and people will frequently eat more without even realizing necessarily that they’re doing it. If you if you sort of end up moderating your diet, based on how hungry you are, then, which a lot of people I think subconsciously do, then if you’re underweight below your definitive weight range, then you’re gonna end up eating more.
Yeah, which is normal. It’s just saying it’s normal to be hungry.
Yeah. Which is weird. This is a regulatory mechanism that has successfully kept all of your ancestors from starving to death over the course of the many famines that characterize human history.
Yeah, yeah, it’s so useful to see it as a normal reaction to restriction. Because so often, we’re told by diet culture, that hunger when we’re trying to lose weight or going on diets is wrong, or a failure of willpower.
And then the, the two responses are not symmetrical. So it seems as though the mechanisms that try to keep you from gaining weight are not very persistent. And if you continually eat when you’re not hungry for a long period of time, your brain eventually will adjust to, okay, that’s the new normal, this is what we’re going to weigh now. Whereas people have looked out as long as six years from somebody losing a lot of weight, and found that if anything, these compensatory mechanisms have gotten more intense over time rather than less. So the idea that if you can just stay thin long enough, and white knuckle through it, your your brain will eventually give up defending that weight range does not seem to be true experimentally. To you. That’s fascinating.
So the brain is a lot more relaxed about being at a higher weight than it is about being sort of weight suppressed or like below the range that it feels comfortable in.
Yeah, I mean, historically, from an evolutionary perspective, starving to death is really serious, and you should never take it lightly. Putting on a little extra padding that might get you through the next famine.
Threatening it’s not seen as like,
immediately life threatening in the way that starving is.
Yeah, so all of this makes sense. And how do we know it’s that range? Is that how we do defended range defended rounds? Is that sort of genetic is that just something that we we kind of get down?
It’s genetic to begin with, for sure there are strong genetic influences on it. And so people who have weight gain that runs in their families, people who naturally have a higher setpoint than somebody else, some of that is definitely in the genes. There also are a number of life experiences that affect that. One of the ones that most people don’t know about is that people who didn’t get enough sleep as children generally have a higher defended range as adults, and statistically very reliable effects. Also, children who had a lot of stress in their lives tend to have a higher defended range as adults. Yeah,
so maybe trauma as well. Might Yeah.
Definitely. One study teachers were able to pick out for researchers, which kids were going to end up having problems struggling with their weight later on, because they were the kids who were neglected at home. Yeah. Oh, that’s so sad. It’s like,
um, like our bodies are holding on to reserves, right? Yeah.
The environment is unpredictable. Yeah, scary. If something bad might happen any time, there’s a pretty good evolutionary argument for not getting too close to the edge for keeping some reserves that you rely on, when the bad times come back. Yeah, it is so useful
to start seeing this through the lens of your body makes sense, as opposed to, you know, any kind of highway is immediately pathological and wrong and needs to be eradicated. Yeah, it’s just it’s a really interesting stuff to think about. Your body is trying doing its best to survive. And genetics, which none of us have control over. And even the stuff that happens to us as Kim, right?
It’s not your fault.
No, no, but all of these things, he’s saying like multiple things. So there’s a genetic predisposition, but then multiple things that can come along and impact on it. And really, it’s not up to us.
And then living in this weird food environment where calories are constantly available, and high paid consultants are working full time to try to get all of us to eat more of them than our bodies actually want.
We’re always being invited not to listen to our bodies. Right? Yeah. And then there’s the impact of dieting itself, right.
And by the way, there’s a genetic component to vulnerability to those messages. They’re very strong familial relationships in who is susceptible to constantly being invited to ignore their bodies, and whose bodies have such strong hunger and fullness signals that they seem to be completely immune to those kinds of messaging. Yeah, cuz those
people exist, don’t they? Yeah. But then there’s so annoying. Wow, that’s so it’s intergenerational.
Yeah, guiding itself,
in dining itself, so if you and then we perceive our bodies as a problem like you did when you were just 13. And then you try and suppress that range, then your body just like you said, your brain and your body are in a constant fight, right.
And most of us try to engage that battle by using our willpower, which is a limited resource, as opposed to the brain’s desire that you stay within your defended weight range, which functions 24/7 Without a break. Yeah,
I’ve heard it said that it’s trying to control your weight through willpower is like trying to control your urge to go to the toilet using willpower. At some point, it’s not gonna work.
Yeah, you can do a lot of these things for a while. But at some point, it gets to be like holding your breath. Yeah. Which you can also do for a while. Nobody would say that breathing wasn’t regulated.
Yeah, but the diet industry does tell us that we I think there’s a lot of messages around at the moment that we can do something to beat the setpoint or change it. And so I wanted to ask you about the food addiction model, which is trending a bit maybe at the moment that this idea that if we remove certain foods from our diet that, that we can permanently change our setpoint and our weight and our brains will kind of relax and finally do what diet culture says we should do. What do you think about that?
My sense is that the food addiction model is basically a rebranding of binge eating disorder. And in a lot of cases, the restriction itself is what produces the sense of being out of control. Yes, the easiest way to see that is in experiments on rodents, which are not bombarded with media messages, telling them that their bodies are unacceptable, as far as we know,
is our best timing rat. Yeah,
yeah. If there’s any fat shaming among rats, we haven’t picked up on it. And yet, if the, when researchers want to study a model of binge eating disorder in rodents, there’s a very reliable way that they induce it, which is that they start by restricting calories until the animals have lost enough weight to be outside of their defended range. Usually get get them down to about 70 or 80% of their starting weight. Yeah. And then give them junk food. Right? Yeah,
so I’ve had this
nice sugary cereals, or chocolate or snack foods. And those animals will stuff themselves, basically eat as much food as you give them. And if you do that several times in succession, starve them, and then give them some junk food and then starve them again, and then give them some junk food and do that three or four or five times. You can get rats to the point where they will binge on regular boring cardboard flavored rat Chow. Really don’t even they don’t even require the food to taste good overeat it anymore. Yeah, you know, that sounds very familiar, right?
into your those
we are those rats, we are. Binge eating disorder is perceived as simply the eating. And we always miss the deprivation that comes before because people with binge eating issues. overwhelmingly people tried to diet for years and years and years. And that’s restrictive.
Yes. So that’s, that’s the best biological explanation for binge eating disorder. And there are also changes in the brain’s reward system that are associated with that behavior. That does not immediately jump out as at me as saying, well, obviously, the correct solution to that is to restrict what we can eat. Yeah, yeah. Right. If restriction causes the disorder, it’s probably not also the cure.
Excellent point. And if the rats weren’t starved in the first place, would they have these responses,
rats that are at their normal way that have not been starved when presented with the same kinds of food will eat them until they’re not hungry anymore, and then stop.
So there we go. So perhaps the rats are not addicted to these foods, perhaps they’re showing an intense reward response to something that they have been denied?
Yeah. And what the interesting part of this, from our perspective, is that these rats are not, they’re not trying to diet, they’re not struggling with mixed cultural messages. They are just having a straightforward biological response to a stimulus that suggests that maybe you should put away some reserves for the future. Because every so often, somebody comes and takes your food away.
When I say we’re saying that really quite simple, elegant, neurobiological response
to famine. And if you live in a place where repeated famines happen, it really might be very sensible to put on a little extra stored energy when you can afford to. So the food
addiction model, in your opinion is like re branded deprivation models, or binge eating disorder models.
Yeah, I think so. Nobody has come up with any evidence that is convincing to me. That there’s more to it than that. The scales that they use to measure food addiction have a lot of overlap with the scales that measure binge eating disorder. Are the biological responses that are measured? When people say, oh, yeah, there’s a distinct pattern of brain changes associated with food addiction. If you look at the whole literature, instead of cherry picking a few studies, you’ll find that most of the time most people don’t see those changes. There. There are a lot of negative results for every positive result that people have found where they do a very similar study and don’t find any significant differences.
Yeah, okay. Yeah. So I’d say it’s a replication problem in the data, that it’s not, it’s not uniform. And because that’s something you often read in the media is that there’s this reward system response, like you read the brain lights up like heroin, when you give it sugar. What do you think of stuff like that?
Well, while I like sugar as much as the next person, I’m sure my reward system lights up when I give it sugar, it’s actually a little bit, weirdly hard to draw the line between the reward system responses to things that are genuinely rewarding and reward system responses to things that are addictive or otherwise dangerous. The brain’s response to heroin actually looks quite similar to the brain’s response to falling in love for the first time with somebody.
New it. So we really are, we’re Addicted to Love.
Love may be the primordial reason that our brains are capable of addiction actually fascinating. You think to yourself, why would why would your varying be able to do something that’s so damaging? And the answer is, it’s not always damaging? Sometimes the willingness to really go to a lot of trouble to get to something that is rewarding is exactly why your ancestors are still here.
And wow, oh, again, looking at the functionality and looking at why this might actually occur. And not always seeing it as pathological.
So the definition of addiction that I like the best is when we continue to want things that we do not like. Cool. So you you are you’re drawn to repeat behaviors that you don’t actually enjoy. Yeah. And some people would describe the binge eating disorder in that way. Yeah, definitely. But I don’t think that that. I don’t think that implies that the correct treatment for that disorder is to do more of what made it happen in the first place. Which cases typically restriction?
Yeah, that makes really good sense. As you found in your own life, leaning in and just giving yourself permission to sort of relearn and trust your body did took that away?
Yeah, I used to be very nervous around high calorie foods. Back when I was dieting. Yeah. And somewhere along the recovery process, I just relaxed. And now when somebody gives me something that’s really fantastic to eat, I enjoy it immensely. And I don’t feel guilt or shame about eating it. And I don’t feel like I’m at risk of getting out of control. Like if I start this, I can’t stop. I can always stop.
Yeah, yeah. Because you’ve reestablished a relaxed relationship with food. And it’s it’s become food again. Yeah.
Yeah. It’s not morality. It’s not a it’s not a reflection of my worth as a human being. It’s just food. Yes, food. It’s just fuel. Sometimes fun. Yeah. And social occasions.
Yeah, there’s a lot of relationships that we can have with food. But yeah, taking the charge out of it. And just from understanding your brain and understanding your experiences paves the way to this whole new thing, which is really, really sustainable as well,
right? Yes, very much. So.
Ah, this has been such a fascinating conversation. Thank you so much for going through all of this with me. It’s been just awesome to actually meet you and have a conversation. I really enjoyed it, and to hear your story. So your history and how that blends to the neuroscience. I just love it. And just thank you for being on the planet and for spreading all of this information around.
Thank you very much.
Thank you so much, Dr. Aamodt for injecting some sense into the conversation around food addiction and neuro Science. I hope this helps put into perspective just how wildly misleading Susan Peirce Thompson’s information is. And if you’ve been hoodwinked by the food addiction salesmen please don’t feel bad. It’s not your fault. Diet culture is full of sparkly promises and convincing looking snake oil salesmen. Even if they sound convincing as fuck. If someone is telling you that restriction leads to freedom, I want you to run not walk the other way. And block report protect your glorious body and your mind from this sea of utter bullshit. Okay, well, look, I think that’s enough for this week. I really want to thank you for listening and I hope you’re as fired up as I was in 2020 and still am in 2023. Because this bright line bullshit, it’s next level, and believe me, it gets worse. Thank you so much for listening, everyone. Take care. Trust your body. Think critically push back against diet, culture, and untrap from the crap