I just interviewed Dr. Pam Peeke about her new book, The Hunger Fix: The Three-Stage Detox and Recovery Plan for Overeating and Food Addiction, and I have to say it was one of my favorite interviews of all time. Known as the “doc who walks her talk,” she is also a marathon runner, NIH researcher, host of Discover Health TV’s Could You Survive and WebMD’s lifestyle expert, and NY Times best-selling author. She’s super-energized and super-fun. What writer wouldn’t love an interview that gets interrupted by a call from Dr. Regina Benjamin, our nation’s surgeon general, which Dr. Peeke answers with an animated, “Hi, Girlfriend!”
Dr. Peeke is all about science and The Hunger Fix has three “new chunks” of science, including the revelation that food addiction is real. If you’ve ever wondered why diets don’t work, read this book. It explains how the reward centers of the brain react to sugar in the same way as cocaine (and in fact, recent research shows that sugar is MORE addicting than cocaine, Dr. Peeke says) and cause us to eat more and more and more.
The solution she serves up in The Hunger Fix is to reward your brain and body with “healthy fixes,” activities like exercising and eating tasty but whole food that do battle with the “hyper-palatable” junk foods that are so addicting and so destructive to our brains and bodies. She goes deeply into the research on the Transcendental Meditation technique, citing augmented growth of the prefrontal cortex with regular practice. The real solution to addiction, she says, is to grow the strongest prefrontal cortex possible, so you can make the right choices and just say “no” to the constant cues that bombard us every day and make us want to eat, eat, eat. And, as she points out, the bliss and calm of meditation becomes the reward.
One of my favorite new chunks of science that she talks about is DNA. “We used to think that DNA was our destiny, but we were dead wrong,” she says. Now science tells us that walking every day can dampen the FTO gene (known as the “fat” gene) by 40%. Lifestyle changes can change our gene expression and that change can be passed on to our children. Wow. Now that’s a good reason to live a healthy life if I ever heard one.
She also explains why, in scientific terms, “eat less, move more” is not enough to reverse food addiction. And she offers specific ways to rescue a hijacked brain, overcome food addiction and lose weight the healthy way and keep it off.
Whether you’re looking for great science, great recipes or effective solutions to runaway eating habits, you’ll find what you’re looking for in The Hunger Fix. The book, to quote Dr. Peeke, is a game-changer.