00:00:14 Background to the guest
00:02:44 Glenn’s journey
00:14:02 The dangers of “fake” foods
00:17:03 Making rules to improve your relationship with food
00:18:28 Taking control of the “reptilian” brain
00:24:12 Most food choices and patterns can be traced back to our childhood experiences
00:26:22 Severing the link between emotion and behaviour in order to control over eating
00:28:24 Understanding how the brain works regarding overeating
00:34:49 Creating your own rules and food plan in order to take control
00:37:35 Why over eaters are good dieters
00:39:07 What are the catalysts for people seeking to control their over eating?
00:44:14 Start slowly when making the change and allow time to adjust
00:47:10 Collecting statistics to measure progress helps movitate
00:48:24 Review your “Mantra”s to keep on track
00:50:28 The psychology behind the Big Food Industry
00:51:43 Continually offering new flavours to keep you hooked
00:53:24 What is the “Bliss point” of a food?
00:55:50 A top tip to start bringing your over eating under control
00:58:54 How to connect with Glenn
- Athletic Greens Discount
- Visit the Fitter Healthier Dad website
- Subscribe or leave a review on iTunes
Welcome to the Fitter Healthier Dad Podcast, where you can learn how to improve your diet, lose fat and get fitter in a sustainable and fun way without spending hours in the gym. Here is your host Darren Kirby.
Darren: Welcome back to the podcast, guys. This is the number one podcast for men in their 40s who want to improve their health through nutrition and fitness. This is episode 121, and on today’s episode we are going to be speaking about binge eating with psychologist Glenn Livingston. Glenn is a veteran psychologist and is disillusioned by what traditional psychology had to offer overweight or food obsessed individuals. Dr. Livingston spent several decades researching the nature of bingeing and overeating via his work with his own patients and a self-funded research program with more than 40000 participants. Before we get into today’s episode, though, guys, I just want to take a moment to mention the show sponsors athletic greens Athletic Greens was created by its co-founder, Chris. After years of gut health issues that left him facing a health crisis with no solutions in sight. Despite his best efforts to maintain a balanced, nourishing diet, Chris’s body struggled to absorb and synthesize nutritional nutrients. Chris developed athletic greens with a mission of creating highest efficacy, bioavailable and nutritionally complete supplement to help your body function as it’s supposed to. No matter what your age is. Now, as many of you know who are regular listeners to the podcast, I am a huge advocate of getting all your nutrients and vitamins from real, nutrient dense food. But with our busy schedules and lifestyles, it’s not always possible. So I personally take Athletic Greens every day as kind of an insurance policy, really, to make sure that I’m getting all of the vitamins and minerals in my daily diet. So for listeners of the podcast, athletic greens have a 10 % offer off your first order. So if you head over to Athletic Greens.com/fitterhealthierdad, you will get 10 % off your first order.
Darren: Hey, Glenn, thanks very much for joining me on the podcast today. How are you?
Glenn: I’m very good. I’ve been looking forward to talking to you, Darren.
Darren: Absolutely. Likewise, because I think what we’re going to talk about today is a very, very interesting topic for a number of different reasons, Glenn. But before we get into that, it would be fantastic for me and the audience to hear a little bit about your background, how you’ve come to where you’re at today. And yeah, more about Glenn.
Glenn: Ok. There are a couple of important things you should know. One is that I’m not just the doctor who decided to work with Overeaters, right? I’m a guy who had a serious problem myself, OK? I was about two hundred and eighty pounds. I’m about two hundred times a day, right? I float between about 200 and 210. But when I was a boy, I discovered that because I’m six four and modestly muscular that if I worked out for a couple hours a day, I could eat whatever I wanted to. And I’m talking like, you know, pizza and a half and six donuts and lattes and chocolate bars. And if it wasn’t nailed down where you stopped by the Woodbury Country Deli and they were out of chocolate and pizza, you know why, it was that kind of thing. And I thought it was great. Honestly, I did not think it was a problem. I thought it was like a superpower. Yeah. Doug Graham gave me that line and it was fine until I was about twenty three right at that time. I was married and I was in graduate school and I was commuting two hours each way to see patients and go to classes. And I was helping my wife at the time to run a business, and I didn’t have time to work out more than maybe 30 minutes, twice a week.
Glenn: But I found that the food had a life of its own. It’s like it had a hold of me and I would be sitting and working with patients, and I would be thinking, when, when can I get to the deli and dislodge my jaw and and do the training, you know? And it actually, I mean, I started gaining a little weight, but it bothered me much more from an efficacy standpoint because I was working with some suicidal people and it was working with couples after they discovered an affair. Yeah. And I come from a family of psychologists. Everybody in my family is a psychologist and I, I really wanted to do that. First and foremost, it was my identity. So that bothered me more than the weight and the triglycerides and all the things. The doctors were yelling me at me about. Mm hmm. But I couldn’t really fix it. I assumed that, you know, being a psychologist, you think everything has a psychological origin. So I assume that I had a hole in my heart. And if I could find that hole in my heart and fix it, then, I wouldn’t have to keep filling the hole in my stomach, right, so I was trying to love myself then. It’s very important thing you need to know about me is that I was married to a woman who travelled for business, so we never had kids and I never commuted.
Glenn: I always work at home, right? So I had a lot of time on my hands once I was out of graduate school to have a second career. And that that evolved to being an advertising research consultant, mostly for big food and big pharma. It’s like I was on the wrong side of the war. And what I saw there was that they’re paying millions, if not billions of dollars to these rocket scientists to engineer these hyper palatable concentrations of starch and sugar, fat and salt and excitotoxins. And it’s all designed to hit the bliss point of your reptilian brain without giving you enough nutrition to feel satisfied. Right, right. So they’re stealing your survival drivers is what they’re doing. And every time you were looking for love at the bottom of a bag or a box or a container, some fat cat in a white suit with a moustache is laughing all the way to the back, right? So that was my first clue that maybe my problem wasn’t that my mama didn’t love me enough, or I didn’t have love of my life or something, and maybe there was some external force going on. So I went through. I went to see all the best psychologists. I went to Overeaters Anonymous for a while.
Glenn: I went to psychiatrist that took medication, everything you could imagine, and it was a very soulful and spiritual journey. And it’s a part of who I am. I don’t regret it, but it didn’t help me to stop the overeating and binge eating. It just didn’t, right? I get a little thinner and then, a lot fatter and a little thinner and a lot fatter. Yeah. And ultimately, there were a couple of things that caused me to flip the paradigm from love yourself been to more of a alpha wolf tough dog. Let’s take control of this thing. Approach. And one of them was that I took an interest in the neurology of addiction. Right. And as near as I could tell, addiction arises from the reptilian brain. The very primitive part of us that says, you know, when it looks at something in the environment, it says, Do we eat it? Do I mate with it? Or do I kill it? It’s very, very primitive. The seat of the feast and famine response. But most importantly, there’s no love there. Love is more of a function of the mammalian brain in the neocortex, which says, you know before you eat, mate or kill that thing, what impact is this going to have on the people that you love? What impact this is going to have on your long term plans, including health and fitness? What impact is this going to have on the person that you want to be? And I Said, Well, that’s interesting.
Glenn: And then there were parallels to other biological drives where they were pointing out that we in particular Jack Trampy from, wrote a book called Rational Recovery. He said that, look, we take control of other biological drives. Darren, if I had to pee really badly right now, I would tell my bladder, I’m sorry, I hear you. I’ll take care of you later. But I’m in control man and I’m talking to Darren. We have to get through this first right. And I do that. As a matter of fact, I live with the fact that I’m an animal like we’re all evolved animals, but we’re also civilized human beings and we take control. Same thing with our reproductive organs. If there is a, you know, pretty girl walking on the street that smiles, I don’t say excuse me and go run downstairs and kiss a stranger on the lips. Yeah, there are. I’m actually a little bit shy, so I wouldn’t do that anyway. But there are ways to approach a woman. Yeah. And so it’s not unparalleled that you could have a biological drive and take the alpha dog position. And when the alpha dog is challenged for leadership in the pack, it doesn’t say, Oh my goodness, someone needs a hug.
Glenn: Right? It growls and snarls and it says, get back in line or I’ll kill you, right? It just takes control. The final thing that really drove this home was I was getting paid a lot of money to do these studies, so I knew how to set them up. And the days when the internet clicks were cheap. This was like 1999 or so I intercepted people forty thousand people over the course of several years while they were searching for solutions to stress. And I asked them what they felt stressed about, and I asked them if they had any trouble stopping eating beyond their own best judgment with certain foods. What foods were they? And I saw that there were. And I’ll wrap this up in a minute, you can ask. No, no, no. It’s fine. Ok. And I saw that there were three primary patterns people who overeat chocolate and all my binges always started with chocolate. Yeah, chocolate and pizza and lactase. That was my thing. People overeat. Chocolate tended to be lonely, broken hearted or depressed. Trust, right? People who overeat, salty, crunchy things tended to be stressed at work and people who overeat soft, chewy, starchy things like pizza and bagels and things like that. They tended to be stressed at home. Right. And I thought that was really interesting.
Glenn: So I called my mom, who was also a therapist and also has a chocolate problem. And I said, Mom, I just did this study and you know, I wasn’t super happy in the marriage and I said, Well, it kind of makes sense. I’m a little lonely and broken hearted. But really, how did this pattern get set up? Why do I run to chocolate if I feel lonely or broken hearted? And she gets this horrible look on her face and she goes, Glenn, I’m so sorry. And I said, Mom, you know it’s OK. It’s 40 years ago. This was, yeah, yeah. Now I’m fifty seven. But at the time it was 40 years ago and I said, Mom, I forgive you. I love you. I just want to know. And she says, Well, I’m so sorry. But when you were one year old in nineteen sixty five, your dad was a captain in the army and they were talking about sending him to Vietnam. And I was terrified. I, you know, we were working on having another one on the way I was working and making your sister and I thought, I’m going to be an army widow with two small children. Right? And at the same time, my father, your grandfather, Glenn, had just gotten out of prison. And I didn’t know that he was guilty. I didn’t know he was doing these things that I’d always idolized him, and he was my only salvation in life.
Glenn: And I was horribly depressed. So my mom was horribly depressed and anxious when I was a boy. And so as a consequence, what she did is she’d be sitting and staring at the wall when I came running to her and asking for a hug or some love or, you know, even some healthy food. She didn’t have the wherewithal to make that for me. So she kept a big bottle of chocolate syrup in a little refrigerator on the floor, and she’d say, Well, honey, go get your bus go. And I go running over to the or crawling over to the refrigerator, and I take it out and I suck on the bottle and I go into a chocolate sugar coma. Yeah. And so there you go. That’s where it started. Yeah. And we kind of had this movie moment where we both cried a little bit and this is over Skype. But we would have had a big fight. And if it were really the movies, you would think that I would never have trouble with chocolate again. Because, right, that’s the root of it. We figured out the route. Yeah, now we have this catharsis and everything is fine, right? Yeah. What actually happened is I started over eating more.
Darren: Oh, wow.
Glenn: Because there was this voice. Well, let me back up for a second. It led to all sorts of good conversations. I forgave my mom. I learned all kinds of things about her. I learned things about myself. I kind of forgave myself so that that voice of self, castigation and hatred, it softened after that. So that did help a little bit. But there was also this voice in my head that said, You know what, Glenn, you’re right. Our mama didn’t love us enough, and she left a great big chocolate sized hole in our heart. Yeah. And until we can get out of this marriage and find the love of our life, we’re going to have to write it in chocolate. Yippee. Let’s go get more right now, right? Who was this voice of justification? Hmm. And then I put all these three things together. There’s the it’s a big food industry engineering these hyper palatable substances, which, by the way, down regulate your pleasure centers so that you don’t experience the pleasures of natural foods as much as you should. If you have a, you have a bag of chips every day. Then the natural starches in a potato don’t taste the same to you, right in a hole in a hole. If you have a chocolate bar every day, the natural sugar that’s in fruit or lettuce. Even don’t don’t taste delicious to you. You can get to the point that people feel like they can get no pleasure from food without these concentrated forms of pleasure. Yeah. So I just kind of put it all together and I said, you know, there’s that.
Glenn: There’s the advertising industry, which we didn’t even touch on that, but they are fantastic at making you believe that they have the good stuff. One of my best friends became the VP of a major food manufacturer that shall remain nameless. Yeah. And he told me that their most profitable insight was when they took the vitamins out of the bar because they were making them taste bad and they were expensive and they put the money into the packaging instead. Ok. Multicolored and vibrant and in nature, a multicolored, you know, a diversity of colors and vibrancy would signal a diversity of micronutrients that are available. And that’s what they tell you to eat. So they’re faking us out, right? Yeah. Goes on across the industry, not just in the food. So I said, there are all these outside forces that are rerouting my survival drive from where it belongs, which is what nature has to offer mostly. And some people think that’s fruit and vegetables. Some people think it’s fruit and vegetables and lean meat. But whatever it is, it’s not bags and boxes and containers and we didn’t have. You know, chips and pizza and all these things on the Savannah. And so I said, OK, maybe I’m looking at the wrong emotional model. I was thinking about the model that an emotional upset causes binge eating right because it’s overdone because we’re overeating for comfort. Yeah, but I had this really weird insight. I said if I went to the dentist and he was out of Novocaine, he wouldn’t say, Hey, I’m outta Novocaine.
Glenn: Do you mind if I inject you with chocolate instead because you need some comforting? You need to numb out. Yeah, you’re not really numbing out with this stuff. You’re getting high with it. So concentration, you’re actually getting high with food. So that was one thing. The other thing was that there was a series of animal studies that showed, you know, you can’t ask animals how they’re feeling, but the correlates of emotion there are physiological correlates that you can measure. So for example, if you’re anxious, your heart beats a little faster, your galvanic skin response goes up. Yeah, you start perspiring and your blood pressure goes up a little bit. So they could measure those things. And they found that if they gave animals food rewards, when those elements of anxiety were raised that the animals learned to keep those physiological elements constantly raised. Yeah. And so what that said to me was that people think they feel anxious and therefore you have to eat. But what if the food is actually creating the anxiety? What if by the principle operant conditioning? Yeah, OK. So it’s a. So it’s a two way relationship. Secondly, I realized that if you were to make a rule for yourself, I will never have chocolate on a weekday again, for example. That’s how I started. And you decide to break that rule because there was a, you know, chocolate bar at The Line at Starbucks. And you know, it’s got your name on it.
Glenn: And bless you when you hear this voice in your head that says you worked out hard enough, even though it’s a Wednesday, you’re not going to gain any weight. A little chocolate won’t hurt. You could just start again tomorrow. And besides, chocolate grows on a plant and therefore it’s a vegetable. I realized it’s this voice of justification, just like that voice of justification. And I said, Well, maybe it’s not the whole story, but maybe what the voice of justification is doing is greasing the chute. So these external forces are pulling you from where your survival drive needs to be, which is natural nutritious things. And then there’s this voice of justification that greases the shoot. Yeah. And then I said, Well, it’s a push to think of emotion as a fire, like a roaring fire, and it keeps burning down the house because you’re overeating, right? Well, a roaring fire in a well contained fireplace in the living room is an asset, not a liability. Yeah. People gather round it. They make memories, they cry, they laugh, they tell stories, they hug. It’s an asset. That’s that’s the gist of our of life and becomes the center of hearth and home. It’s only if there are holes in the fireplace. And then I kind of said, Well, maybe this voice of justification is poking holes in the fireplace. And what if I set up a system whereby I could identify that voice of justification and then aggressively disempower it? Mm hmm.
Glenn: And so now this is a little embarrassing. I didn’t work with Overeaters back then because I had a eating disorder myself. Yeah, I mean, I never expected I was going to be public talking about this, and I’m actually a sophisticated psychologist. I’ve been all over the media and yeah, and I have published. All these things I’ve got anyway. I have to say that before I tell you what, I’m what I did because it’s embarrassing. What I did was I drew very clear lines in the sand. Ok? I said first thing I said was, I will never have chocolate on a weekday again. I’ll only ever had that weekend because I figured I had to know when that reptilian brain was active, right? I didn’t know what I was aiming at. I wouldn’t know whether it was me or the reptilian brain talking. Yeah. And then I decided that anything that suggested I would have chocolate during the week wasn’t me. It was my reptilian brain. With the embarrassing part is I called my reptilian brain my inner pig. It’s just going to be something I did in a diary for myself. Yeah. And so if I was at that Starbucks and the, you know, the pig was saying, you know, it’s OK, just start again tomorrow, I would say, wait a minute. That’s not my that’s not me. Yeah. Chocolate on a Wednesday is pig slop. I don’t eat pig slop. I don’t like farm animals. Tell me what to do. Right? And this is going on in my head out loud.
Glenn: Yeah. And it sounds ridiculous. But after decades of in-depth psychological searching and reading all the books I could and doing all this research in the industry, what worked for me? It wasn’t a miracle, but it would wake me up at the moment of temptation and give me the Opportunity to make the right choice, let’s just a few extra microseconds. Sometimes I’d make the right choice, sometimes I wouldn’t. I found that when I more carefully examined the logic behind what the pig was saying and I could find the lie in what it was saying, for example. It’s not just this easy to start tomorrow night the way the brain works. The principle of neuroplasticity says what fires together wires together. You have a craving for chocolate. You have it on a Wednesday. You have just made it more likely that you’re going to do one on a Thursday also. Yeah. If you’re in a hole, you have to stop digging, right? Yeah. And there are 13 other reasons I can give you where it’s not easier to start tomorrow. I’ll give you one more, which is that if you have the thought, I’ll just start tomorrow and then you eat chocolate. You’ve rewarded the thought. Yeah, that makes you more likely to think, I’ll start tomorrow. Tomorrow. Yeah, yeah. And I can go on and on. But so, Darren, that’s what happened. I started. I started playing with different rules. There were things I would always do like have, you know, start my day with Springwater. There are things I would never do like.
Glenn: You know, it turns out I really couldn’t have caffeine. There are things I would do conditionally like, the chocolate or like I would only have pretzels for a Major League Baseball game. Yeah. And slowly but surely, I realized I had this power to wake up and follow these rules. Yeah. And, you know, took a while before it was 100 % and I had to keep adjusting the rules to make it reasonable and something I would aim for. But the miracle was that I no longer felt powerless and confused. I no longer felt like there’s you know. Yeah, I kept a diary for eight years of all these crazy things that my pig’s said, and I eventually turned it into a book and I published it after I got divorced. And I mean, I have a background in marketing, and I had a partner who, you know, was running the publishing company, and he has a background in marketing. So we knew what we were doing, but none of us expected to take off the way that it does. Wow. Ok, now we have over a million readers and nine coaches working for us. And yeah, sometimes I’ll be in a bookstore or on a first date and someone will come over to me and say they don’t recognize me by name and they go, Hey, God, God, this is not really what you want to happen on a first date. Well, that’s why I got here. That’s what I that’s how I got here.
Darren: I mean, that is super interesting and fascinating. And to be honest with you, there’s so many different directions that I can take this. But I guess, you know, particularly around big food, because the story you told me there around it is a story that I’ve heard in a different said in a different way previously around psychology and scientists around food. But where I want to kind of take it back to for the listeners is I have this theory after working with lots of men who have struggled with their weight and the theory that I have is around our childhood. And obviously, you’ve told me your story around childhood, which kind of confirms what my thoughts are and my thoughts are that our relationship with food in our adult life is partly made up from what happens in our childhood. Right. So I’ll give you an example from my own specific experience, when I was a child, my parents would restrict me from eating crisps. Yet lo and behold, when I was old enough to go and buy them myself and I was in my adult hood, I’d think nothing of eating huge, great big bags and six packs of crisps and all the rest of it. So that’s where I come from, when I say about your childhood. So obviously you said that from your experience is that a pattern that you see when when you’re starting to look at people that are overeating and binge eating, it’s part of that is from their childhood.
Glenn: It certainly is, it certainly is, in fact, virtually everybody’s particular food choices and patterns can be traced back to some childhood experience, and the thing that threw me for a long time, though, is that I didn’t realize. The natural conclusion we would draw from that is wrong. The natural conclusion of the fact that there’s this high correlation between how we were brought up and the particular foods that we struggle with would be that if you could resolve those underlying memories and issues that the food struggle would go away. Right. But there’s such a physiological component to the food struggle and it takes a long time to resolve those childhood issues. Yeah. So you put that together. And in the meantime, you’re reinforcing the addiction or reinforcing the addiction waiting to solve your childhood traumas. Hmm. I I learned that it’s better to have a very practical set of techniques to sever the link between trauma, overstimulated emotions and overeating. So if you sever the link and you fix that fireplace, then you can examine the fire more carefully and you’re going to get further in therapy and further in the relationship between your, your childhood and what you’re doing. And it does help. Like when you my Oh my, I did side overeating chocolate more, but it wasn’t quite as intense and I didn’t hate myself as much. And it’s actually it’s difficult to keep bingeing if you’re not continually yelling at yourself. Well, you do. Yeah, because the that self castigation is actually a function of the reptilian brain in and of itself. Right? See what the appropriate role of guilt or shame in overeating. It does have a role, but it’s minimal. It’s kind of like the role of physical pain when you touch a hot stove, right? If you accidentally touch a hot stove, you’re not supposed to say, Oh my god, I’m a pathetic hot stove toucher.
Glenn: Let me just put my whole hand down on the stove, right? But that’s what happens to people when they overeat. Think, Oh my god, I’m never going to be thin. I’m never going to figure this out. I might as well just keep going and going and going. Hmm. The role of physical pain is to draw attention to the fact that there was a danger and that something needs to be adjusted. But then once you make the adjustment and you know why the why you hit the hot stove, why you missed it and how you’re going to avoid that in the future, it does you no good whatsoever to keep feeling that physical pain. Same with guilt or shame. A little bit just enough to wake you up and say, OK, I made a mistake. How am I going to adjust my aim? Why don’t I make the mistake? You know, I aimed at the bull’s eye. I missed it. But by how much in what direction? What did I do right? What did I do wrong? What adjustments do we need to make and then let it go? Let it go. Yeah. So so the short answer to your question is very much so. We could have fascinating talks, and you and I could bond a lot if we talked about our childhood and how we ate. Yeah, but it wouldn’t necessarily help you with the overeating until you actually really sever the link between the emotion and the behaviour.
Darren: Yeah. And when I say that, I think what I mean actually is that that’s one element of it. I don’t think for one minute that it’s the only way that we can kind of identify why we do what we do, right? Because, you know, you hear and you see of people that they perhaps know that they’re doing it, they chastise themselves for doing it, but they continue to do it. And I guess one or the other angles of that is is because what happens in the brain, what chemicals get released when they eat these foods, right? There’s some serotonin, some dopamine that all gets kicked off. And so that overrides the internal self-talk that they have to stop eating, you know?
Glenn: What you need to know is that there are really two different nervous systems, OK? There’s the primitive nervous system. We call it the sympathetic nervous system that prepares you for emergencies, fight or flight, feast or famine. You know, sometimes freeze, reproductive opportunities. It’s and that system doesn’t really know logic. Right? That system sees an opportunity in the moment, and it says we better take advantage of that or protect ourselves. And the part of us that is human, that has goals, that has an identity that you know, loves and lives and wants to leave a legacy. That part is really more a manifestation of things that have developed later, and I believe in evolution. Not everybody does, and it doesn’t really matter how it got there. Maybe God gave us two brains. But you need to learn that the reptilian brain will override your logic unless you know how to get out of it. And so I actually evolved what I did over time to recognize that I had to switch nervous systems first to really think straight. Yeah. So one of the things that we do now and we teach our clients is to take what Laurie Hammond calls a 7-Eleven breath, right? What that means is you breathe in for a kind of seven and you breathe out for a kind of 11. I’m not going to do it right now, but it’s very calming. Yeah. The reason that works is that if you were being chased by a tiger, if there was a legitimate emergency, you wouldn’t have time to take a seven eleven breath.
Glenn: You wouldn’t have time to breathe that for longer than you breathe that. Then we have people carry around a pen and paper or a smartphone to write with. Right? And after they’ve taken that 7-Eleven breath or three or four of them, they ask their pig and you don’t have to call it a pig. I call it a pig on what’s going on. Yeah, you can call it your food monster. Or, yeah, it’s not a cute pet. This is not your inner wounded child. No, but it’s something you need to take control over. You could ask your pig, Why do you want me to break my rules and eat this? Yeah, because you recognize that there’s some voice in your head or image in your head or feeling in your head that says, Go break the rules. You say, OK, why? After you’ve relaxed and gotten into your right brain, you say why? And then you write it down in full, right? The writing is more of an upper brain activity. If you were being chased by a tiger, you wouldn’t have time to write. And once you’ve written it down, you’ve kind of exposed the pig soft underbelly. Yeah, it’ll be just as easy to start tomorrow. You might as well break the rules and binge now, it’s just it’s just showed me its logic, and it’s gives me an opportunity to disprove it the way that we talked about. Yeah, right. Yeah. And then the last thing we do is we take another couple of 7-Eleven breaths. And once we’ve identified the false logic, we should be feeling a lot calmer and less urgent. We ask ourselves, why would staying with the rules make me a happier, better person? And you know, for me, it’s not not having chocolate on a Wednesday makes me feel like I can be know a tall, thin man and be in a loving relationship and climb mountains and walk around feeling more present and smiley and all kinds of all kinds of character traits that I’m trying to cultivate. Yeah. And they’re all kind of comes together and keeps you motivated, and then you might have to actually eat. There might be an authentic bodily need underneath the craving. Right? I couldn’t. I eventually got off chocolate altogether because it was just maddening with all the crazy rules I had. Yeah, and I couldn’t do that until I started having these kale banana smoothies. And when I had the Kale banana smoothies, there must have been some nutrient in there that nature had to offer that I was missing, right? So yeah, I forgot where we started on that long journey, but I I’m ready for you to talk to you again.
Darren: Yeah, that’s absolutely fine. I think, yeah, it was around, you know, the kind of self-talk and stuff like that we have in our heads. And as you were talking there around the self-talk, which I think is I, I believe, is an important point to kind of emphasize because, you know, we all have this internal self-talk, don’t we? And a lot of people that I deal with when you talk to them about their diet and you talk to them about overeating, you know, they say, Oh, I know that I do it, but I don’t understand why I do it. And I think a lot of the time is because they have this unconscious. They’re not conscious about what they’re doing. They’re not kind of they have no pattern interrupt to kind of interrupt themselves at the point. Where they they’re kind of going off track to say and have this internal dialog, right, as you just described, you know, why am I breaking the rules? Why should I keep to the rules? And I think if you have that conscious awareness and you put this in place, you are more likely and it’s not going to be easy, right? And we’ll come onto this.
Darren: It’s not going to be easy. When you first start to overcome this, but over a period of time, like everything, when we try to make habitual change and change, it will start to become more. I guess not less unconscious, but it become more effortless in order to to kind of implement. So yeah. So on that and going into that and a little bit more detail because some people listening to this might be thinking, Well, that’s crazy. You know, why am I going to have a conversation with myself? Why am I going to have this 7-Eleven breath with myself all to stop me eating chocolate? Well, it really depends on how much of an issue this is for you and how much you’re kind of eating habits or your diet is causing an impact on your life. So when you first start with people and you raise this topic of this internal dialog and self-talk and writing stuff down, how do people receive that and what is a normal kind of reaction and approach to it?
Glenn: Well, there’s a variety of different reactions, but what you have to recognize is, first of all, we don’t tell people what to eat right? And some people are abstainers. Some people are moderators. We only ask people to consider making rules around their difficult triggers and food behaviors. And you know, there are rules and there are guidelines, and everybody designs their own food plan. So we’re not asking you to give up anything in particular, right? But then we do ask you, have you ever considered what you might be giving up and continuing to do what you’re doing right? And right now, you don’t have a space between stimulus and response. It’s like, you’re not there. The chocolate is on the counter and you eat it, and it’s like your reptilian brain has taken over your life. It’s actually minimizing your freedom. You’re not making conscious choices. Freedom is actually built on discipline. If you. That’s true. Yeah, right? Yeah. Like, you could not drive a car if it weren’t for the discipline of the engineers who make sure that when you turn the wheel, 30 degrees to the right goes 30 degrees to the right. Yeah, every time you add a discipline, every time you add a discipline to your life, you’re going to feel freer. It’s really interesting. Yeah, that’s why Jim Roan says a life of discipline is better than a life of regret.
Glenn: So first of all, we ask people to consider, what are you depriving yourself of by continuing to do what you’re doing? Mm hmm. We know from our reader surveys that a typical binge eater, you know, not just the classical overeating, but a binge eater will binge four times a week, and it usually takes 24 hours to recover. Right. So they’re losing half of their presence and productivity to doing this. And the idea of we ask people to start with one simple rule and you don’t have to give anything up with that simple rule. Some people say, I’ll always put my fork down between bites. Right? Other people say I’ll never eat in front of a screen again. I knew a truck driver who had one hundred and fifty pounds to lose, and he started by saying, Look, I’m on the road all week long. I’m not going to stop eating at fast food joints, but I’ll tell you what, I won’t go back for seconds. Right? And with that one simple rule, he starts to lose a little weight. See what one simple rule will do for you is it’ll prove to you that there’s a whole other experience of life that’s possible, right? That you’re in control of your life, you are your pigs master, not its slave. Sometimes in private, we say You are, you are not the pigs BIATCH. Yeah. The figures are big and people get that right. And when they realize they don’t have to give up anything really to do it, but they get so much freedom from it.
Glenn: They start to get addicted to the sense of power and enthusiasm and hope as compared to where they were before they just felt like nothing was ever going to work. Yeah, so that’s how we overcome that. Our pigs are used to setting the bar way too high for us. Yeah. So most over eaters are also good dieters, right? Right. And when they’re dieting, they’re really, really, really, really good. And they maybe, maybe they lose three pounds a week or something like that, and they don’t recognize that they’re keeping themselves addicted to a feast and famine cycle. Yeah. And it’s like, like the nursery rhyme. When she was good, she was very, very good. But when she was bad, she was hard. Yeah. When you overdiet, when you lose weight too quickly, you are signaling your brain that you’re living in an environment of scarce nutrition and calories. Right. When you do that, as soon as food is available, it only makes sense that your brain would say, we better hoard that. This is the only reason that I can think of why. It makes sense that for a lot of overeaters, being too full is a signal to eat more. It would seem like it should be a signal to stop. So we tell people one simple, simple rule flood your body with nutrition at a slight caloric deficit if you need to lose weight and slowly but surely we’ll add more rules and you’ll gain the health and fitness that you’re looking to achieve.
Darren: Yeah. And I think that you know that the one rule scenario comes back to me to basic fundamentals. And you know, this is a psychologist is that as humans, as long as we can make one simple change at a time, it’s much more sustainable and manageable rather than what we tend to do and particularly men, when they decide they want to make a change its an all or nothing scenario, isn’t it? It’s a flick of switch. We’ve gone from 10 years of eating poorly or overeating to flicking it to going straight onto the keto diet the next day and expecting it all to change in two weeks, right? And I just think that there’s so much power in that for just making that one simple change. So when you start to work with people, Glenn, in terms of what would you say are the biggest catalysts that you see that people come and see you and say, Right, I’m in trouble here. I realize I’m overeating. I’m bingeing. I’m eating poorly. I can’t make the change on my own. I need help. What’s been the catalyst for them coming to you in the first place?
Glenn: You know, we live in a world where diabetes is rampant and cardiovascular disease is 80 percent higher than it used to be, and diet reversible forms of cancer are rampant and a lot of people wait until they can’t get away with it anymore. Right? You know, they they’ve been to the doctor and they’re told that they’re pre-diabetic or diabetic, and he wants to put them on medication or their kidneys are failing. Or sometimes it’s because they see a loved one. They have a parent going through something, and it’s just horrible. And they say, Well, this is the writing on the wall, and I have to do that. There are other people that become very performance motivated, like we get men who have been, they finally discovered working out and they they’re at cross fit and they want to do a few more box, jumps and things like that. And the extra weight is stopping them. And that’s rarer. I prefer to work with these people because you catch them before them. But the vast majority of people, they’ve seen the ghost of Christmas future and they don’t like it. Yeah, so much so that one of the things we do with people is guide them to have a vision of the ghost of Christmas future. What’s going to happen if you keep doing what you’re doing for not just the next six months, but what if you keep doing what you’re doing for the next six years? Where are you going to be and not just with your fitness, but what impact is that going to have on your whole life, your relationships? And what about your career? Most people, as they deteriorate physically, they have less energy to be productive, they start to socially isolate and it really, really shrinks their lives and affects the whole quality of life.
Glenn: Yeah. So sometimes I’m a meany and I make people look at the ghost of Christmas future, but it helps. Yeah, yeah. Equally helpful, though, is to look at what will happen if you comply, like when people choose one simple rule and I haven’t really encouraged them. What a big difference this could make. And then I say to them, OK, we’ll take a breath and tell me if you were to follow this one simple rule for a year. I know your pig says you can’t. Yeah, I know the pig says there are a million reasons you can’t. But what if you did? What impact would that have on your weight? What impact would it have on your energy level? What about your relationship? What about your finances? And I’ll have them paint a whole picture of what just complying with this one simple thing would do. And then they recognize that it’s going to build some momentum and that it’s really everything that they want in life is through this path. And the only thing that’s really standing between them, not the only thing, but a very big part of what’s standing between them and the kind of person they want to be is their ability to make that space between stimulus response and make better choices.
Darren: Yeah. Yeah. And and I think the other side to it, though, is I would imagine this is going to be a big challenge insomuch as when they start to make this change. The reason that they’ve got to where they’re at currently is the type of food they’ve been eating and what I specifically mean, is highly processed food, right? Yeah. So how do you manage that and overcome that? Because that in and of itself is quite difficult because there palate has been cleansed almost or contaminated with these hyper palatable foods that are high in sugar, high in salt, high in fats. And when they start to then flick that and eat nutrient what I call nutrient dense food. Their perception is that it’s bland, it’s untasty, or how do you start to overcome that slowly?
Glenn: Right? We overcome it slowly. I make sure people understand what’s going on right? I tell them when you’re used to being overstimulated, that you’re not really used to what life is like in its real form. It’s almost like being in the matrix and taking the red pill or the Blue pill. Yeah, if you eat a chocolate bar every day and natural foods don’t taste good to you anymore and then you stop chocolate, all of a sudden some people have to. But if you stop it, all of a sudden you’re going to go through a period of six to eight weeks while your taste buds adjust and your nervous system upregulates to respond with pleasure, where it seems like life is intolerably boring. Mm hmm. And it extends beyond food. You start, you start to think that, well, there’s really no pleasure in life. And yeah, because you don’t realize how much of your libido was directed towards the overstimulation with the chocolate bar. Right? So with most people, we do that slowly. Most people don’t give it up altogether. Some people do. And then they start to look at their results, and they realize that most people come into this feeling like they have no power at all.
Glenn: Yeah. This is just never going to work. So I have to prove to them that they’re in control and then they feel a little more optimistic and they say, Well, OK, I’m not binge eating, I’m not overeating. But my, the scale isn’t moving, it’s not going up anymore, but I’m really kind of stuck. And so I’ll say, well, what’s keeping the weight on? And they know from talking to me that it’s probably something that they’re eating that’s concentrated and not nutrition. This may need to replace it with more nutrient dense foods. And we do a little by little, right? Maybe they’ll say, I’ll never have more than one ounce of cheese again, something like that. Yeah, you know, and they. They make the adjustments little by little, and then they get results and they get it excited about it, and then they make a little more. You know, for some people, it’s a full year process. For other people, it’s a couple of months.
Darren: And yeah, so it is very much a process and it’s something that I’m I’m a big advocate of, of understanding that it is a process in anything that you do in life, that you’re going to make a change in right. And so with that, though throughout this process, it’s not going to be a linear process, is it? It’s very much going to be up and down. So presumably when people come to you initially, they’re highly motivated and they want to make a change. They realize they can’t say when where they are. However, as humans, we have this big bout of motivation, and that’s great that gets us started. But actually, how do you deal with it when they go into a bit of a trough and it’s like, we’re not making progress. I don’t like this its too much of a change, you know, nothing to work in. How do you then deal with that? Is that a psychological side of things you have to deal with or?
Glenn: Well, partially, we’re very results oriented, and we take a lot of surveys and testing with our clients along the way, so partly we tell people up front, they say, Look, if you will engage and do this. And about 70 % of our clients will. Yeah, those people get a 90 % reduction in binge frequency in the first month. Wow. And I’ll quantify it for them. And I say, you know, our average client is spending four hundred dollars a month on binge food. So you do the math and tell me what 90 % reduction means with that average client is spending half the week recovering from binges. So what does that mean to you? We try to just kind of bring the benefits very clearly into the now. People do drop off over time. So when you get to about six months where we’re like a 60 to 70 % reduction and about half the people are still doing it. We’re always working on making that better. And by the way, that’s better than most weight programs. Yeah, we’re always and we don’t think of ourselves as a weight loss program, but we’re always working and working on making that better. But showing those people those stats and then showing them what the distinction is between the people who do well in the long term and don’t.
Glenn: And they’re just a couple of things. It’s a little bit of work people need to do. The work to stop overeating is front loaded. It’s like getting an airplane into the sky. Yeah, it brings an awful lot of fuel getting there, but then cruising to its destination doesn’t really take that much fuel. Right? It’s the same way for a couple of months you got to work really hard at it and then you can start to cruise. So, you know, after a couple of months time, they have found most of the squeals that bother them and they disempower them, right? And we’ve come up with little mantras for most of them, for them. So it’s just a matter of kind of reviewing their mantras once a day, maybe reading them out loud, reviewing their food plan, which is, you know, the set of rules that they’ve come up with. Yeah, looking over their big wide and stay motivated with where they’re going. And we actually found that the people who are most successful are usually listening to the podcast regularly, right? Where that sounds self-serving, but it’s just something that we found. So, you know, we have very specific activities that people can do and we can show them, and it’s going to be progressively less work.
Glenn: We can also explain to them that it’s more work to keep bingeing. We’ll ask them, Well, what are you going to do otherwise if you don’t like to do this work, what are you going to do otherwise? And they start to think, Well, I mean, some people go try another program, right? And we have reasons why we think ours is better. But that’s yeah, that’s OK. We let them do that if they want to do that. But most people say, no, it’s just my pig wanted to go back to bingeing, and the pig thinks that there should be an easy path up the mountain. Yeah. What if? What if there is a clear path up the mountain, but it’s a little hard. You have to take step after step and then there’s a way to roll down the hill all the way into the into the pit. And what if there is no easy path? What? What if? What if this is the easiest path you can find but is still a little bit hard? You know do you still want to go to the top of the mountain or not?,\ and most people do.
Darren: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, I mean, yeah, that’s yeah, that’s super interesting. And I guess the support you give them obviously helps with those troughs. But one of the topics that I did want to dig into today, Glenn, which I don’t think we’re going to have time for. So I think if you’re in agreement, we can get you back on to discuss. And that is the topic of big food and the whole psychology behind it. And the scientists are involved to get us to kind of continually eat this highly ultra processed food because it’s something which when I talk to people about it, they are shocked but equally don’t believe that is going on. They seem to think that that is a bit of a conspiracy theorist kind of view. Right? And yeah, and no, absolutely. And I don’t believe it is. And that’s why I really want to dig into this topic because I think it’s something that we need to share, and I think it’s something that the wider population and listeners of this podcast need to hear. And whether or not you do anything with that information is kind of irrelevant, right? But I think it’s definitely our duty to kind of share that information.
Glenn: So a couple of things,
Glenn: Absolutely. Do we have time for that or not.
Darren: Yeah, yeah, no. Go for it.
Glenn: So one thing you need to understand is that the people working in these companies are not necessarily evil, right? They don’t say, How am I going to hurt these people and make money? That’s not what they’re saying. They think of themselves as making fun food, and everybody deserves to indulge once in a while, and they’re providing you with the opportunity to do that in a really fun way. That’s how they think of it and, you know, people vote with their wallets and the consumer, what the consumer seems to vote for is what I call plausible deniability. Yeah. So the consumer would love a reason to eat potato chips and think that they’re healthy. So if you put avocado oil into a potato chip and people think that that’s healthier, then they’ve got plausible deniability. New potato chips with avocado oil. But there are. There is such a science to doing this. You know, there’s something called I learned this from one of my clients. There’s a motivation to find flavour variability because we had to find a variety of micronutrients in nature. And so when major food manufacturers make bags of chips or corn chips or something like that, they it’s not a unitary assembly line with the same formula going into the into the bag. They have a multitude of slight variations in flavour on different assembly lines to kind of merge into one line and then go into the bag so that you keep wanting. I’m finding this new flavour and finding this flavour and eating and eating and eating.
Glenn: There is a there’s a concept of bliss point. There’s a certain amount of sugar that is blissful. And when you grow beyond that point, it’s a little disgusting. Yeah. And they do a lot of testing to find exactly what the bliss point is. The same thing for like herbs and spices, and there’s only so much vanilla that people really want to taste and then they don’t want to taste it anymore, only so much. And there are very precise measurements that go into and studies that go into figuring that all out. And then there are methods of testing your response to advertising, which indicate what’s going to create maximal purchase interest. And yeah, it’s a largely unconscious motivation, right? It has to do with the kind of person you want to think of yourself as, yeah, it has to do with the kind of people you identify with. It has to do with your galvanic skin response and it’s so sophisticated and there’s so much money in it that they just keep hiring rocket scientists and pouring money and pouring money in that. Yeah. Winston Churchill said that democracy was the worst kind of government except for all the others. But one of the downfalls of democracy is that it doesn’t really regulate the free markets the way that they should be to protect the public’s health, and your health is not necessarily in these companies best interest. No, your pleasure and enjoyment is in their best interest. So yeah,
Darren: Yeah, absolutely. And I totally agree with you in so much as the people that are responsible for this are not evil. They’re fulfilling a job and they are doing what was asked of them. And but and I think this is this is a whole other topic. This is where it comes back to us as individuals taking responsibility for our own health. Other than putting it in the hands of the food companies, the healthcare companies and all the rest of it, right?
Glenn: Amen, brother.
Darren: Yeah. So so that’s where it comes back to that. But before I let you go, Glenn, I really want to ask for people listening to this that I have identified and resonated with what we’ve been talking about in terms of overeating, binge eating. What would you say are the five things that people listening to this today could really take away to start implementing if they realize, actually, that’s me, OK?
Glenn: First of all, it’s a lot simpler than you believe that it is. There’s a lot of confusion out there. A lot of people in my field are confusing people. There’s a lot of confusion in the addiction industry. It’s a lot simpler than you think that it is so clear away the muck. Start with the blank slate and say, if there were one simple thing I could do one simple thing that I could and would do. It’s not going to be too onerous. Yeah, but I’m going to get a big bang for the buck. It’s really about 80/ 20. So where would you start? Maybe I don’t eat after eight o’clock at night, right? Maybe I’ll always start my day with healthy goodness. I will always fill up with a green smoothie, whatever something you can and would do that, you know, will make a difference. Maybe I walk around the block once before I go to work. Whatever it is, come up with a name for your reptilian brain, right? And this is a methodology. And by the way, I will tell you where you can listen to example sessions and you can see that I’m not just a weird ass doctor who’s, excuse my, language, but that’s fine. Them, but it’s a very compassionate life, restoring hope, giving process. Yeah, give this inner thing a name and define it as any impulse to Cross the line whatsoever. And what you’re doing is separating your constructive self from your destructive self. You’ve got a set of thoughts that are destructive, and we define that as those which suggest that you break your best laid thinking because I’m assuming you’re going to choose a rule that’s good for you.
Glenn: And then you’ve got constructive thoughts which supports you maintaining the rule. That’s how you define this thing. So it’s not an angry, wounded child or OK, then listen for that destructive self. The pig. The food master. Listen for it to start talking and telling you to break the rule. When you make a rule, you’re of two minds. So there’s going to be a part of you that says you want to break it. Just accept that that’s the truth. Cravings are inevitable. That’s justification. Thoughts are inevitable. But overeating is not to start listening for that. When you hear it, slow down, take those breaths if you can, ask the thing. Tell me specifically, why should I eat this thing? Yeah. And then look for the lie and what it’s saying. It usually wins by telling you a half truth and a bigger lie. So there will be some truth to it, but it will be a bigger lie. Say specifically, what’s wrong with it and then ask yourself, how would staying with my rule make me a happier, better person if you just start practicing with that with one simple rule, you’ll be amazed at how much progress you make and then you can watch our videos and read our books and we’ll take you a little further. But that’s that’s the best place to start.
Darren: Yeah, perfect. Okay. So with regards to that thing, Glenn, how can people find out a little bit more about you where you know what your YouTube channel, social media is your book and all the rest of it?
Glenn: It all starts at the website if you go to neverbingeagain.com. Ok? And you click the big red button. You can sign up for the reader bonuses and you’ll get a free copy of the book in Kindle, Nook or PDF format. We do have paperback and audible, but there’s a charge for those Kindle Nook and PDA for free. I recorded a set of full length coaching sessions so you can hear people going from feeling despairing and desperate to feeling hopeful and enthusiastic in just one session. Yeah, even though we’re talking about their inner pig. Yeah. And then I created a set of food plan starter templates, so these are sets of rules that would match most dietary philosophies. So whether you’re, you know, your Whole Foods, plant based or your ketogenic or your, yeah, whatever you are point counting, calorie counting, there’s a set of rules that you can modify to work with yourself. But I recommend you start with one simple rule neverbingeagain.com. Click the big red button and we’ll get you started.
Darren: Perfect. Glenn, it’s been an absolute pleasure having you on the podcast. I really appreciate your time. Like I said, I’d love for to come back so we can delve into this topic of big food and share it with the audience. But yeah, thanks very much again. And I look forward to speaking to you soon.
Glenn: I look forward to talking to you too. It was a blast.
Darren: Thanks for listening to the Fitter Healthier Dad Podcast. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please hit subscribe. And I would really appreciate if you could leave a review on iTunes or the things mentioned in the episode will be in the show notes, and a full transcription is over at fitterhealthierdad.com