Friday, November 15, 2019

Diet Rehab: 28 Days to Finally Stop Craving the Foods That Make You Fat (2011), Book Review

Diet Rehab: 28 Days to Finally Stop Craving the Foods That Make You Fat (2011) 

by Dr Mike Dow

In March 2010, the Scripps Research Institute release a ground-breaking study (read page 15-16) that find rats who were fed high-fat, high-sugar diets such as bacon and chocolate (lucky rats!) developed full-brown food addictions such as drug addictions. Oh ya, they gave cocaine to the rats too. Amazingly, the food had altered their brain chemistry. Because of this, these rats – overweight and food-addicted – desire for more and more 'junk' food to experience pleasure or at least, just to feel normal. "Now here's the even scarier part," writes Dr Mike, a psychology expert on addictive behaviours, disordered eating and food addictions, "After cocaine-addicted rats stopped taking the drug, it took only 2 days for their brain chemistry to return to normal. For the food-addicted rats in the food study, though, their brain chemistry took 2 weeks to return to normal. In other words, food habits affected their brain MORE than drugs in some ways!" Now, that is scary!

Let me repeat: Food addictions alter brain chemistry the same as cocaine addictions but it took longer for food addictions to recover. Mind-blowing! In this book, Dr Mike focuses on two main brain chemicals that affect our food intakes, body weight and wellbeing, namely - dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine is the pleasure, excitement, 'fall in love' and energizer chemical. If you're low in dopamine, you'll be listless, sad and feel lonely. Concerning food addictions, the more you eat high-fat foods, the more doses of dopamine you'll get to get 'high.' But the more you feed yourself with extra fat, neurons that release, receive and keep your dopamine moving become overloaded, then damaged. Thus, you need greater and greater quantities of dopamine 'junk' foods to feel normal again. This will create a downward spiral cycle of your food addictions. "The more you eat, the more you want." Serotonin, on the other hand, is feeling calm, peaceful and positive chemical. If you're low in serotonin, you'll feel anxious, fearful and perhaps depressed. You'll crave for high-sugary and sweet foods and the vicious cycle of the downward spiral will happen. Your craving for foods is the response of your craving for dopamine and serotonin boosts (among other important brain chemicals). You eat to feel calm when you're nervous, sad or depressed. Weight gain is the by-product.

There are two hallmarks of addiction: 1) Tolerance. "When you keep needing more to get the same high", and 2) Withdrawal. "The pain of giving up an addictive substance that the body has come to rely on." Any diet programs will have to face these two obstacles. And so, Dr Mike introduces his Diet Rehab program. His approach to addiction is based on 'gradual detox' in which "you begin by adding foods that will boost your serotonin and dopamine levels before you even cut back on anything." This is well illustrated in The Dr Oz Show (watch YouTube Dr Mike Dow's 28-Day Plan to Kick Cravings). Gradual detox is based on the understanding that it takes a month (about 28 days) for the human brain to create a habit. So, during Diet Rehab, you need to gradually replace "pitfall" foods, activities and thought patterns with "boosters." There are lots of examples of pitfalls and boosters listed in the book. I love the secret of Diet Rehab because it deals with not only the food that you eat, but also the activities that you do, and the thought patterns that you keep. It can be summed up in two-sentence, says Dr Mike:

1) First add booster foods (more greens and healthy foods) and booster activities (take a walk, exercise, sing, etc.) to your life

2) Then gradually reduce pitfall foods (saturated/trans- fat, high-fat, high-sugar, high-salt, etc.) and pitfall thoughts ("I'm not good enough", "I'm always a failure", etc.)

What I love about this book is that Dr Mike gives good suggestions and science-based reasons for what, why and went we behave in certain ways that are stealing our lives. My favourite is Part 3 entitled Free Yourself from Food Addiction where he talks about obsessive eating, emotional eating and binge eating. This part alone is worth your money and time reading it. I bought this book for only RM10 (on sale) and I learned a great deal about the psychology of food addictions and behaviours and how to overcome them. To be honest, I didn't follow the 28-Day Diet Rehab Programme but I watch carefully what I eat, adding more booster activities and keep my thought patterns in check. If you have an eating disorder or eating emotionally (if chronic, check with your doctor), I highly recommend this book. Dr Mike has dozens of exercises that can help you to understand yourself better and how to deal with it.

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