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    How to Hack Hunger and Cravings Using Science With a Doctor Trained at Harvard, Columbia, and Cornell

    Gut bacteria plays a crucial role in the body by sending signals to the brain, aiding in nutrient absorption, and preventing damage from toxins. Taking care of gut bacteria is vital for optimal health.

    enJune 22, 2023

    About this Episode

    Why do you always crave dessert after dinner? Or a snack mid-afternoon?

    Today we’re digging into the science of cravings: 

    -Why you have them

    -How to tell the difference between a craving and actual hunger

    -How to eat your way to better health and a happier life.

    Dr. Amy Shah is a double-board certified medical doctor with training from Cornell, Harvard, and Columbia Universities and an expert on intermittent fasting, hormones, and food cravings.  

    And today, I got you and me an appointment with her for free! Let’s friggin’ goooo!

    If you want to understand your body and how to make your metabolism work for you, Dr. Amy has the research and the tools to help you kick your cravings to the curb once and for all.

    In today’s episode, you will learn:

    *when to drink coffee in the morning so you stay energized all day

    *how cravings relate to dopamine and how to curb them so they never come back

    *why your sugar cravings are so strong and how to stop them

    *the truth about probiotics and which ones your body needs right now

    *what ghrelin and leptin are and why they are the secrets to a healthy metabolism

    *the shocking research that compares antidepressants to food and exercise

    *how to stop overeating 

    Our bodies are complicated, but your health doesn’t have to be. Let Dr. Amy empower you to live a more vibrant, fulfilled, and energized life.

     

    In this episode, you’ll learn:



     

    • 2:45: So what’s the difference between hunger and cravings?
    • 6:00: Many of our poor food choices are not our fault.
    • 19:30: So how do we fix our eating habits if we’re not always in control?
    • 20:30: Food and exercise are more effective than drugs for anxiety and depression?!
    • 23:20: So what are some of the foods that will boost natural hormones?
    • 28:30: Drinking enough water during the day makes you eat less.
    • 37:30: Here’s what food companies know about dopamine.
    • 41:40: Do this when you want to stop overeating.
    • 44:45: Why does dopamine work better when you reward yourself at random times?
    • 46:30: What are psychobiotics and how do they stop cravings?
    • 50:20: Here’s how your gut and your brain talk to each other and what that means.
    • 51:30: What exactly is the relationship between food and bacteria?
    • 55:15: So where do we start with supplements?
    • 57:30: The #1 probiotic that you should be adding to your days.
    • 59:30: How the hell do you get rid of your sugar cravings?
    • 1:03:30: Do you get enough sleep? Here’s why that matters.
    • 1:06:00 Why you should wait 45 minutes before you drink your coffee.
    • 1:08:10: This is what Dr. Amy thinks about intermittent fasting and how she does it.
    • 1:10:00: Eat a high-dopamine breakfast to start your day on the right track.

     

     

    Disclaimer

    🔑 Key Takeaways

    • Distinguishing between hunger and cravings is crucial in developing strategies to overcome emotional eating. Dr. Amy Shaw's expertise can help approach wellness scientifically and practically to understand why we crave what we crave and what to do about it.
    • By recognizing the difference between hunger and appetite, and the role of hormones and brain chemistry, individuals can make mindful choices to avoid unhealthy eating habits and potential food addiction.
    • Ultra processed foods are addictive and can cause health problems. Eating whole, natural foods can increase mental health by 80% and prevent illnesses caused by ultra processed foods. By reducing or eliminating ultra processed foods, you can understand your natural hunger cues and prevent external cues from controlling your eating habits.
    • Understanding the connection between our hormones, cravings, and gut-brain communication can help us make informed choices about what we eat for optimal health.
    • Take care of yourself during pregnancy with Centrum's maternal health products, keep your kids safe on social media with Dove's Self-Esteem project, learn about improving your life with Something You Should Know podcast, and educate yourself about the harmful effects of ultra-processed foods with Dr. Amy Shaw's book.
    • Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly can be more effective for depression than medication alone. Incorporating amino acid-rich foods into our diet can help balance dopamine levels and improve our mood. Taking control of our food intake can lead to a happier, longer life.
    • Incorporate high-tyrosine foods like dairy, soy, nuts, and cherries for dopamine, and serotonin-rich foods like eggs, dairy, and lean meats paired with complex carbs for mood and sleep. Remember to stay hydrated throughout the day.
    • Drinking enough water and limiting ultra processed foods can help distinguish between actual hunger and cravings, allowing us to better listen to our bodies and make healthier choices.
    • By distinguishing between cravings and hunger and identifying trigger foods, we can make healthier choices and avoid dopamine burnout.
    • Skipping meals and diets can increase hunger and cravings due to dopamine and ghrelin levels. To improve eating habits, sensitizing leptin through sleep and omega-3 fatty acids and listening to our body's signals is crucial.
    • Increase your omega-3 fatty acid intake through algae oil, boost your leptin levels by getting more sleep and eating certain foods like nuts, and retrain your brain to stop overeating by pairing good activities with bad ones and offering intermittent surprise rewards of a healthier version of your favorite foods.
    • Take two minutes, three times a week, to focus on healthier habits and reward yourself with savoring the good feeling. This helps retrain your brain to crave healthier options over time. Consider replacing unhealthy snacks with dark chocolate.
    • Taking specific bacteria can change the gut microbiome and affect brain functioning, helping to overcome cycles of cravings and improve mental well-being. Paying attention to gut health can address mental health and target conditions such as autism, Parkinson's, and ADHD.
    • Gut bacteria plays a crucial role in the body by sending signals to the brain, aiding in nutrient absorption, and preventing damage from toxins. Taking care of gut bacteria is vital for optimal health.
    • Consuming fiber-rich, unprocessed, and fermented foods as well as exercising regularly can promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria and improve the brain-gut connection more effectively than taking probiotics in pill form.
    • Switching to a high fruits and vegetables diet, removing processed foods, and adding exercise can improve gut bacteria, boost mood and energy, and even be more effective than medication for depression.
    • Our gut bacteria, drinking habits, and sleep patterns significantly impact our mood, lifespan, and overall health. Adjusting these habits can lead to significant improvements in our overall quality of life.
    • To prevent grogginess and maintain circadian rhythms, prioritize exposure to sunlight in the morning, give a 45-minute gap before having caffeine, eat within daylight hours and avoid midnight snacking. Such routines can help achieve a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
    • Eating a healthy breakfast and lunch while waiting for at least an hour after waking up is vital for good health. Tune in with your body's hunger cues and avoid skipping meals. Eating nutritious foods earlier in the day help maintain a healthier diet. Consuming fermented probiotic foods and having a salad with protein for lunch is a good practice. Americans should reduce their daily eating time to improve their health.
    • Eating carbs later in the day can boost serotonin levels while protein-rich snacks keep dopamine and hunger hormones stable. Women should consume adequate protein for optimal brain function. Going gluten-free temporarily and adding back unprocessed wheat can help determine the body's response.

    📝 Podcast Summary

    Understanding the Difference Between Hunger, Cravings, and Appetite to Overcome Emotional Eating Habits

    Differentiating between hunger, cravings and appetite is important to understand how to overcome emotional eating habits. Hunger is a natural need to get nutrients and can be fulfilled after a long time, whereas cravings are caused by activating the dopamine pathway in the brain and can be strengthened over time. Understanding the difference helps in developing strategies to overcome emotional eating habits. Dr. Amy Shaw, a double board-certified doctor and renowned nutritionist, shares her expertise on intermittent fasting, food allergies, hormones, and more. Her latest book, 'I'm so effing Hungry', explains why people crave what they crave and what to do about it. Learning from a trained nutritionist with Ivy League degrees and a medical doctor helps to approach wellness from a scientific and practical standpoint.

    Understanding the Science Behind Hunger and Appetite

    Hunger and appetite are two different things. Hunger is a biological need to stay alive, while appetite is the desire for food. A cycle of a hormone called ghrelin can cause people to feel hungry at night, even if they have eaten enough throughout the day. Cravings and unhealthy eating habits are tied to the brain's dopamine reward system. Over time, the brain becomes desensitized, and more and more of the unhealthy food is needed to feel satisfied. This can lead to food addiction, which is not entirely the individual's fault. Understanding the difference between hunger and appetite and being mindful of unhealthy eating habits can help individuals make healthier choices.

    The Dangers of Ultra Processed Foods and How to Avoid Them

    Dopamine rush from ultra processed food is similar to drugs like cocaine, which causes a cycle of craving and addiction. Ultra processed food lacks fiber and vitamins that tell the body you're full and make you eat more, leading to inflammation, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and mental health issues. Consuming more whole, natural foods can increase mental health by 80% and prevent illnesses caused by ultra processed foods. Ultra processed foods cannot be made in a kitchen with ingredients of food. Consuming fewer ultra processed foods can help you understand your natural hunger cues and prevent external cues from telling you when to eat.

    How our Hormones and Cravings Impact our Eating Habits

    Feeling full depends on hormones like Leptin and CCK that send signals to the brain to stop eating. However, our cravings pathway can kick in and we may want to eat desserts instead. Our brain and gut are connected from our embryo stage and changing our gut environment impacts our brain. The input of the food we eat is assessed by the mouth and gut, which work together to send signals to the brain on what we've eaten. It's amazing how sophisticated our bodies are, with all the signaling and neurotransmitters going on. Taking care of our body by understanding what's happening is important for our overall well-being.

    Maternal Health Products, Online Safety Measures, Podcast for Life and Book on Emotional Eating

    Centrum has a line of maternal health products for mom's health and wellness. Dove's Self-Esteem project focuses on social media and kids, making it a safer experience. The project is partnering with Common Sense Media and Parents Together Action to update design standards, safeguards and tools to protect kids online. Something you should know podcast is a great source of information for improving life. Dr. Amy Shaw's book, Why Am I So Effing Hungry? explains how emotional eating and cravings are not our fault but triggered by ultra processed foods. Education about the harmful effects of these foods is lacking.

    The Power of Food on Mental Health and Well-being

    Food creates mood and can have a profound impact on our mental and physical health. Research shows that a combination of diet and exercise is 1.5 times more effective for depression than medication alone. Changing the way we eat is a powerful tool that we have control over and should be considered first line therapy for mental health. Eating foods that are high in amino acids can help balance dopamine levels naturally and improve our mood. It's time to take our food intake seriously and recognize the impact it has on our overall well-being. By making healthier food choices and incorporating exercise into our daily routine, we can live happier, longer lives.

    Boosting dopamine and serotonin levels through food choices.

    Eating more foods that are high in tyrosine, like dairy, soy, nuts, and cherries, can help boost dopamine levels in the brain. Having a breakfast that is high in dopamine can help you feel awake, alert, and motivated. Cottage cheese is a great choice for breakfast, as it can be blended with sweetener and fruit to make a delicious, high-dopamine meal. Serotonin is great for mood and sleep, and can be found in foods like eggs, dairy, and lean meats. Pairing these foods with complex carbohydrates like sweet potato or quinoa can give you a nice burst of serotonin. Confusing thirst and hunger is common, so make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day.

    The Benefits of Adequate Water Consumption and Avoiding Ultra Processed Foods for Health and Well-Being.

    Drinking adequate amount of water can help to calm hunger and avoid confusion between thirst and hunger. One should aim to drink about 8 ounces of water per hour and take out as many ultra processed foods as possible. This helps in hearing the signals from the body and being the most authentic version of oneself. To navigate craving cycle, one can ask themselves if they are hungry or just craving something sweet, and do they want a bowl of vegetables. Drinking a glass of water and waiting for 15 minutes can help to know if the body is still craving or is fine. It's important to minimize sugar and processed food cycle to hear one's own signals.

    Understanding the Biology of Cravings and Hunger

    Cravings are a mix of pleasure and pain, which is driven by dopamine release. It activates neural pathways that make us feel uncomfortable and agitated. Hunger, on the other hand, uses hunger hormones like ghrelin to tell us to get nutrients from food. Cravings are the pleasure hormone cycle, going through the dopamine pathway. These two are completely separate pathways but pair together in many ways. Therefore, it is essential to identify foods that trigger cravings and find healthier alternatives, which can lead to dopamine burnout. Understanding the biology of hunger and cravings and learning to distinguish between the two can help us make better decisions and lead a healthier lifestyle.

    The Science behind Hunger and Cravings

    When you skip meals and diet, your body senses a calorie deficit and turns up the volume of hunger and cravings by increasing the dopamine and ghrelin levels respectively, which makes it harder to control food intake. Dopamine is the most powerful motivator in our body and can get us out of our seat to fulfill our cravings, and food companies, video game companies, gambling and porn industries use this knowledge to their advantage. Leptin is the fullness signal, and to sensitize it, we need to sleep more and eat more omega-3 fatty acids. To improve our eating habits, we need to listen to our body's signaling pathways, which can be challenging in the face of loud cravings and hunger sensations.

    Simple tips to reduce overeating and improve satiety levels

    You can get omega-3 fatty acids through algae oil if you don't eat fish, which can increase leptin and reduce hunger levels. GLP one is a hormone that works in conjunction with leptin to make you feel full, and natural ways to increase it include getting more sleep, exercise, and eating certain foods like nuts. To stop overeating, you can pair a good activity right after a bad one, like going for a walk after eating ultra processed food, or retrain your brain with intermittent surprise rewards of a healthier version of the food you crave. These simple methods can help you reduce overeating and retrain your neural pathways.

    Replace Bad Habits with Good Ones using the 3-2-1 Method

    The 3-2-1 method is a way to replace bad habits with good ones. For three random days a week, take two minutes to tell yourself how much you love the healthier version of the bad habit. Spend one minute savoring and enjoying it. This intermittent reward releases dopamine and retrains your brain to crave healthier options over time. Intermittent rewards are the most addicting thing and the biggest dopamine release, which is why toxic relationships and gambling are so addictive. This method can be applied to anything, but instead of replacing ultra-processed candy bars with healthier options, consider replacing them with dark chocolate.

    The Gut-Brain Connection: How Psychobiotics Can Affect Mental Health

    Psychobiotics, or certain gut bacteria, can affect our mood, behavior, and mental health. Studies show that people who are depressed have different gut bacteria than those who have a positive outlook on life. By taking specific bacteria, such as lactobacillus, we can change the bacteria in our gut and affect our brain functioning. This can help us overcome cycles of cravings and dopamine that keep us feeling out of control. This new scientific perspective shows the importance of addressing mental health from the gut as well as the neck up. By paying attention to our gut health, we can find a new way to improve our mental well-being and possibly even target conditions such as autism, Parkinson's, and ADHD.

    Importance of Gut Bacteria for Overall Health

    The gut bacteria affects the brain by sending signals such as hormones and short chain fatty acids. Our body equally contains bacterial cells that are present in the stomach and intestines. Without gut bacteria, the body gets damaged from toxins such as alcohol, antibiotics, and ibuprofen. Thick gut bacteria lining that squeezes nutrients from food and removes waste is getting thinner with modernization. The damaged cell walls lead to the immune system's response like a cut, causing inflammation throughout the body. Therefore, it is essential to take care of gut bacteria that helps prevent several health problems.

    Natural Foods vs Probiotic Pills: Which One is More Effective for Gut Health?

    Taking probiotic pills may not be as effective as eating foods that have natural bacteria in them such as yogurt, kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut, and apple cider vinegar. Consuming fiber-rich and unprocessed foods can also improve gut health. Exercise is also considered a probiotic as it promotes the growth of happy bacteria in the gut. Short chain fatty acids, which are produced by gut bacteria during exercise, are also associated with the brain-gut connection. However, studies on probiotics' inconsistent effects suggest that the best way to improve gut health is to have a healthy and balanced diet of nutritious, natural, and fermented foods.

    The Power of a Whole Foods Diet and Exercise for Better Health

    Switching to a mostly whole foods diet and removing unhealthy processed foods can significantly improve mood, energy, and overall health. Adding exercise can also help boost the natural production of bacteria and help the body heal itself. A clinical study found that drastically changing one's diet to high fruits and vegetables, no juices or sodas, and no processed meats can improve gut bacteria in as little as a few weeks. Foods high in high fructose corn syrup, soda, and processed meats are the worst and should be avoided. This change in diet and exercise can even be more effective than taking antidepressants and going to therapy for depression.

    The Impact of Diet, Water Intake, and Sleep on Our Health and Mood

    Our gut bacterial colonies can change rapidly within three days of a shift in diet, indicating our ability to change our mood, lifespan, and overall health for the better. Drinking warm or room temperature water is more easily absorbed by the body and can have numerous health benefits. Getting adequate sleep every night is crucial for our mood, decision-making abilities, and interactions with others. Skimping on sleep can lead to depression, anxiety, and hunger cravings. It's essential to understand how much sleep our body needs by sleeping without an alarm and prioritizing adequate rest for a better quality of life.

    The Importance of Sunlight and Timing for Brain and Body Functioning.

    Getting sunlight in the morning before screens and waiting for 45 minutes before consuming caffeine helps in clearing up adenosine in our brain, which is responsible for grogginess. Eating within daylight hours and avoiding midnight snacking is also important for complete hormone balance and maintaining circadian rhythms. Following such routines are excessively important for our mood, body and nutrition as sunlight and darkness run our bodies and we have internal clocks in every one of our cells. Letting clear out the adenosine naturally prevents excessive tiredness and dependency on caffeine. Trying to follow this routine can help in maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

    The Impact of Eating Late and Skipping Meals on Your Health.

    Eating late at night disrupts your body's natural processes and can lead to worse health outcomes. Ideally, one should wait at least an hour after waking up before eating breakfast and stick to healthy foods for breakfast and lunch. Skipping meals habitually is bad for health. It's important to tune in with your inner cues and eat when hungry. The healthier you eat earlier in the day, the better your chances of sticking to it. Eating a salad with protein for lunch and serving of fermented probiotic food is a good practice. Americans eat 14 to 16 hours a day which is too much.

    Diet Tips for Optimal Brain Health

    Eating carbs, especially in vegetable forms, later in the day can give a big boost of serotonin. For snacks, it is best to go for protein-rich foods like yogurt, protein shake, or a piece of cheese as they keep dopamine levels up and hunger hormones stable. Women often eat too little protein, which may result in overeating processed foods. Gluten itself is not the problem; processed foods that contain gluten are. Going gluten-free for a few weeks and then adding small unprocessed amounts of wheat back to your diet can help you see how your body responds to gluten. Gluten-free foods may not always be healthy due to processing.

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    Tiffany Aliche: “5 Rules of Money: How to Make It, Save It, & Be Smarter About It”

    Janine Driver: "FBI-Trained Expert Explains How to Read Body Language"

    Judie Robbins: "Get Your Sh*t Together: This 85-Year-Old Badass Does More Than You & Me (Steal Her 7 Amazing Secrets)"

    For more resources, including links to learn more about each expert on today’s episode, click here for the podcast episode page. 

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    How to Read Body Language to Get What You Want: 6 Simple Psychological Tricks to Be More Confident

    How to Read Body Language to Get What You Want: 6 Simple Psychological Tricks to Be More Confident

    Do you want to know how to talk to anyone with ease and confidence? 

    In this episode, you will learn science-backed psychological tricks to be more successful, charismatic, and influential today.

    Vanessa Van Edwards is the founder of The Science of People, a behavior lab that studies high achievers and the science of confidence and body language. 

    Her research proves that anyone can learn these practical skills and become a more successful person by using the same simple habits that almost every high achiever has.

    Whether you want to be a better leader, land your dream job, achieve big goals, or align your life with what you want, this is the episode for you.

    For more resources, including links to Vanessa’s bestselling books, click here for the podcast episode page. 

    If you liked this research-packed episode, you’ll love hearing Vanessa’s other appearance on the podcast: Research From Princeton: 13 Proven Hacks That Boost Your Influence & Make You More Confident

    If you are looking for more support, Mel wants to coach you. Her signature 6-month live coaching program, Launch, is open for registration for just a few more hours.

    Click here for more information and to sign up. If you miss registration, hop on the waitlist.

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