Mark Hyman: Emerging science has found that sugar and industrial processed food stimulates the same reward centers in the brain as cocaine or heroin. On functional MRI testing, with extraordinary tests that block the effects of opiates in the brain, it has the same phenomena that happens with sugar and processed food as it does with heroin or cocaine. So this is not up for debate anymore. When you take a rat and you put him in a cage, if they can have cocaine or sugar, they always go after the sugar. So we have to realize this is a real biological phenomenon. It’s not about willpower. It’s not about being weak willed or emotionally crippled or needing to go to therapy to overcome your bad eating habits.
What people need to realize is they can overcome food addiction and food cravings by learning how to work with their biology. And in my book, The Blood Sugar Solution, I talk about ten ways in which you can cut food addiction by regulating your hormones, by using food as medicine, by changing the information going in your body and upgrading your biological software. Because food is not just calories, it’s information, and if you put the wrong information in, you're going to create the wrong signals and cravings. If you put the right information in, you can shut those off very quickly and change your biological addiction almost over night.
So you may be wondering how you can cut your food addictions. It’s very simply. It’s by using food as medicine and realizing that what you put on the end of your fork is more powerful than anything you’ll ever find at the bottom of a prescription bottle. So to use food as medicine to cut food addictions, here’s what I would do: Eat three meals a day -- breakfast, lunch and dinner -- and two snacks. Make sure you have a balanced meal with protein, fat and good carbohydrates -- and quality is important here so it has to be real food. So, for example, breakfast could be eggs or a protein shake. It could be nut butters or you can just have dinner for breakfast. Lunch you want to create the perfect plate, and dinner you want to create the perfect plate. That's half of your plate as unlimited refills on non-starchy vegetables, like salad fixings, asparagus, broccoli, green beans. One quarter is lean protein. It could be nut proteins, vegetable proteins, beans or seeds or it could be lean chicken or fish. And on the other side, you could have one-quarter of whole grain, brown rice, black rice, quinoa or maybe a sweet potato.
That's going to balance your blood sugar. That's going to keep your hormone levels even and prevent the spikes in insulin and shut off the sugar cravings. But you have to go cold turkey. You can't just reduce the amount of sugar. You have to go cold turkey for at least a week and see what happens. And don't think that artificial sweeteners are going to help you because we’ve found that people who have artificial sweeteners increase their risk of being overweight by 200 percent, increase the risk of diabetes by 67 percent, so there's no free ride.