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This is your Brain on Milkshakes

The Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity is behind an interesting new study linking behavioral measures of food addiction with neural correlates for drug and alcohol addictions.  You can access the full study which, was published in the archives of general psychiatry, here.

It is fairly established that behaviorally, there are a number of striking similarities between drug addiction and problematic eating.  The evidence that neural activation patterns similar to those found in drug addiction are correlated with these behavioral indicators is new.  

This area certainly needs much more study, but the potential implications for people struggling with problem eating and those who work with them are striking.  It may turn out that applying “will-power” to eating problems and weight management will come to be seen as being as effective at applying “will-power” to drug addiction.  That is, not very.

This also might help us begin to move on from what I like to call nutri-myopia- the idea that we have to establish the exact right, or optimum, diet consisting of the correct proportion of macro and micro nutrients, that the latest magic berry will boost weight loss, or that by following Dr. C. H Arlatan’s snake oil weight loss plan we’ll get the results we want.

Rather, the solution to our collective eating disorder might be rooted in human behavior.  Which, of course, is a common sense, but often neglected notion.  Rather than focus exclusively on what we are putting in, perhaps we should focus on our own process of eating, noting inconsistencies between our intentions and our behaviors.  When those are identified, we can start to increase our awareness around those situations- noticing what prompts the behavior and the results that come from it. 

Which brings me fully around to a common theme with me, the processes of Mindfulness, Acceptance and Commitment, processes that are known to be correlated with positive outcomes. 

If the problem is behavior, the solution might be…behavioral.

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