Dopamine and serotonin run our lives. In large part, we eat food to get high. That’s right. The same reason junkies can’t kick physical dependency on drugs (ie - neurotransmitter mismanagement) is why people struggle with food. Dopamine plays a very strong role in weight gain: https://www.cell.com/current-biology/…/S0960-9822(19)31468-X
We might think wealth, access to food abundance, and over-abundance play a pivotal role in people getting fat. But the reality is that, though the developed world has higher incidence of obesity than the third world, within the developed world the highest rated areas are impoverished: https://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/60/11/2667
People in poverty are at the highest risk of obesity and the related health risks. Yet again, this is why I scoff at the arguments against saturated fat intake and meat in the diet. Poor people aren’t eating duck fat and grass fed steaks. But they are getting high with vegetable oils and lots of vegan foods, namely grains.
Most importantly, people need to understand that changing dietary behaviors is the same brain chemistry alteration required to get off of hard drugs. At first, you will enjoy all of life less, because you are in withdrawal and making all-time lows of dopamine. Expect to grind through a period of acute depression. More than half of the reason stimulants work for fat loss is that they trigger a dopamine response to make up for your food withdrawal.
This is also why I work with clients on fasts. If you take your drugs away long enough, low healthy doses of them can be integrated positively back into your life. And when I say “drugs” here, I mean food, social media, screens, sex, or whatever your dopamine addiction is. For some people it’s drama. For some people it’s anger. For some people it’s outrage. For some people it’s grief. For some people it’s victimhood. For some people it’s actually tobacco, alcohol, and drugs. You will notice, upon reflection, that your dopamine high now comes from increasingly depraved versions of whatever it was that got you high previously. A tiny bite of cake used to do it. No longer. Now, it better be the whole cake. And even that doesn’t get you quite as high. A small friendly debate used to do it. No longer. Now, it better be nonstop berating and pejoratives toward your enemies. And even that doesn’t get you high like it used to.
Whatever it is that gets you high, you have receptors in the body for the adrenaline, cortisol, and dopamine that you dump out when you engage in these unhealthy and counterproductive behaviors. They need a reset. They need a period of abstinence. They need a fast.
Afterward, you may find you can reintegrate small amounts back into your life in a positive manner; or you may find you still can’t handle it.
Why did people ever create offices? Why did people ever invent walkabout, wilderness retreat, and strategic solitude? Because without the noise of your addictions and distractions, your brain might return to a healthier state with greater clarity.
Why do cults create retreats, getaways, and gathering places? So they can rob you of your clarity you’d get in solitude. So they can steal the reward we are to retrieve from thinking straight. So they can bombard you with ideology in the very moment you ought to be thinking for yourself and shaking off the controls of other people’s expectations.
And this is where food addiction has at least one component that is more difficult than illicit drug addiction. The societal norm doesn’t discourage it. Our obsession with identity politics (ie - this is WHO I AM) reigns supreme over our behaviors. Rather than viewing actions as things we sometimes do, we have developed some really erroneous beliefs that those actions are WHO I AM. And people ought to be ashamed of implying that I should change WHO I AM.
If you can break free from the cults, if you can view behaviors as behaviors, if you can view desires as desires, you don’t need to change WHO YOU ARE. You can remain every awesome thing you are while kicking your habit. You can fast from getting high for a little bit; and you’ll find that the best parts of who you are not only stay, but improve.
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