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Eating Mindfully

Dietary change can seem like an impossible intervention to sustain. High-calorie junk foods are prominently displayed everywhere from supermarkets to gas stations to checkout lines in hardware stores. In fact, so much has gone into this marketing and product placement that it’s impressive anyone can say no.

But, as we describe in detail in Brain Wash, it’s imperative that we break out of the negative spiral of poor decision-making, and food happens to be one the most important ways we can do this.

In addition to the strategies we outline in the book, here are three ways to help get your diet on track—and to keep yourself from falling victim to the ultra-processed foodstuffs that surround us.

  1. Become more mindful of your eating habits. We rarely stop to think about all the factors involved in our food choices. As we describe in Brain Wash, a variety of influences in our environment significantly influence our eventual choices about what to eat. However, by becoming mindful of even a few of the things that contribute to our eventual choice of food, we gain considerable control over what we’re putting in our mouths. Start asking yourself why you’re eating junk food over nutritious calories. Was it in response to a stressful day at work or not getting enough sleep last night? The more you can understand the reasons for your choices in meals, the better. There are two ways in which this approach will benefit you. First, you’ll be able to create space and awareness between your impulsive food desires and actually eating the foods (giving you the chance to use your prefrontal cortex to your advantage). Second, you’ll gain more insight on the steps that lead to your poor dietary decisions, hopefully giving you multiple ideas on where to make changes upstream from the actual decision.
  2. Start thinking defensively. It’s not a stretch to say that a large part of the food we eat today is poison. While modern-day concoctions induce short-lived feelings of pleasure, they’re very likely cutting years off your life when eaten too often. Considering that much of our “food” is actually toxic to the body, you’re able to reframe your choices in foods. Think about the fact that you incur damage to your organ systems (including your brain) every time you eat an unhealthy meal. Alternatively, healthy food can be seen as consuming medicine for the body. Reframing foods as either medicine or poison can help you to maneuver your diet towards something you’ll be proud of.
  3. It’s OK to say “No.” We appreciate that cultural norms and social grace are deeply tied into the way we eat. It can be seen as disrespectful to refuse a food item given to you by someone else. And yet, it’s imperative that we do not lose control over what goes into our bodies. With this in mind, you should feel empowered to say “no” when presented with foods you know are bad for you. If this offends your friends, family or coworkers, gently let them know that you’re trying to eat better for the health of your body and your brain. Anyone arguing against this does not have your best interests at heart.
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The Empowering Neurologist – David Perlmutter, MD, and Prof. Tim Noakes

Prof. Tim Noakes is one of my all-time heroes. As many of you may know, Prof. Noakes, a South African physician, was brought before a professional council for his advocacy of a lower carbohydrate diet. Ultimately he was fully exonerated, defending his position with reference to recommending higher fat consumption while reducing carbohydrates, as documented in the movie The Magic Pill, which focuses not only on the importance of reducing refined carbohydrates for weight loss, but also how diets higher in these carbohydrates are threatening to our health and pave the way for disease.

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Linda P.

A year and some months ago,  I weighed in at 244 pounds.  I had started cutting out sugar, but I really needed help with a healthy diet. My son-in-law told me about Grain Brain, and I ordered it immediately!

I started changing my diet right away. The weight just flew off of me and I felt so much better. In time I began to notice the change in my memory too!

I suffer from severe osteoarthritis of the spine and just about every other bone. I really needed to lose that weight and learn how to eat the right things. I will never change my new eating habits!

-Linda P.

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The Empowering Neurologist – David Perlmutter, MD and Rena Greenberg

Are your best intentions always falling by the wayside as it relates to following dietary advice? Today on The Empowering Neurologist, I interview Rena Greenberg, author of, The Craving Cure.

Rena Greenberg’s success with weight loss hypnosis and gastric bypass hypnosis has been featured in 150+ news stories including USA Today, Woman’s World Magazine, The Doctor’s Show, CNN, Good Morning America and ABC-TV Nightline.

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The Empowering Neurologist – David Perlmutter, MD and Dr. David Ludwig

Today on The Empowering Neurologist,  I interview Dr. David Ludwig. Dr. Ludwig is a practicing endocrinologist and researcher at Boston Children’s Hospital, Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, and Professor of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health.

Dr. Ludwig has published over 150 scientific articles, and presently serves as Contributing Writer for JAMA.

He is founding director of the Optimal Weight for Life (OWL) program at Children’s Hospital, one of the country’s oldest and largest multidisciplinary clinics for the care of overweight children. OWL serves as a home for research into innovative approaches to treat childhood obesity.

Dr. Ludwig also directs the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center. His research focuses on the effects of diet on hormones, metabolism and body weight. He developed a novel “low glycemic load” diet (i.e., one that decreases the surge in blood sugar after meals) for the treatment of obesity-related diseases.

Described as an “obesity warrior” by Time magazine, Dr. Ludwig has been featured in the New York Times and on NPR, ABC, NBC, CBS, and CNN, among others.

Today’s interview focuses on his new book, Always Hungry?.

From Amazon:

ALWAYS HUNGRY? turns dieting on its head with a three-phase program that ignores calories and targets fat cells directly. The recipes and meal plan include luscious high fat foods (like nuts and nut butters, full fat dairy, avocados, and dark chocolate), savory proteins, and natural carbohydrates. The result? Fat cells release their excess calories and you lose weight-and inches-without battling cravings and constant hunger. This is dieting without deprivation.

Forget calories. Forget cravings. Forget dieting. ALWAYS HUNGRY? reveals a liberating new way to tame hunger and lose weight . . . for good.

The book really does deliver in terms of both providing the science in an understandable way, as well as giving the reader a user-friendly, actionable plan. I’m really glad I was given the opportunity to read the manuscript for this important work.

Gabrielle H.

I started 2015 by adopting a gluten-free, low-carb lifestyle.

I had suffered from anxiety since the age of six, and added chronic stress to that when I was in my thirties. Many other symptoms would come up later, including irritable bowel syndrome in 2005, severe joint pain/muscle ache, lack of sleep, lack of concentration, depression and finally, a breakdown in 2009. Conventional medicine scratched only the surface. I was grasping at straws last year with my trying to exclude different foods from my diet, suffering acid reflux all the while. I would fall asleep to be awakened by a dead arm and, in panic, try to get the circulation back.

This regimen has saved my life. Within five days I started to sleep. Within twelve, I broke free of depressive moods. I have no joint pain or muscle ache now, no acid reflux at all. My gut feels like it’s been repaired. I do not eat any carbs and do eat a high-fat diet with extra virgin olive oil, coconut, butter, and the like. I feel energetic and feel my brain is functioning again. I am 63 now and am looking forward to getting even better. Last week, I started eating fermented foods like kimchi, red cabbage, and cauliflower. In a week or so, I will be excited to find even more improvement in my overall health.

-Gabrielle H.

Overcoming Your Genetic Legacy

Science has revealed something incredible: our susceptibility to disease is not predetermined by our genes. In fact, while our genes do carry with them markers that would usually lead to certain illness, what we’ve learned is that we can use preventative healthcare measures to control the expression of these genes. Now, we can tackle care proactively, rather than waiting for an untreatable disease to occur.

Brain Maker, building on Grain Brain, provides dietary and lifestyle suggestions on how to do this, and it begins with a low-carb, gluten-free, low-sugar diet meant to, among other things, help reduce inflammation and blood sugar. Doing so goes a long way towards facilitating the improvement of your overall health.

Jim W.

I committed to my new gluten-free, low-carb lifestyle 7 months ago, and have since lost 23 lbs., mostly in the first 3 months. Most noticeable to me is the reduction in body aches. I’m running twice the miles I used to because my body does not hurt like it did before. I simply feel better!

-Jim W.