Photo by Claire Zhu on Unsplash

Why is change so hard? Especially when you truly desire it? Because you need to rewire your brain, which is a lot like trying to grow grass on packed down dirt.

Let me explain.

Imagine taking a short-cut across a lawn: the first time there’s no clear path, you’re making it up as you go along; the second time the blades of grass are matted down so you can make out a path; the third time the way is clearer still. …


A close-up of a man chopping broccoli
A close-up of a man chopping broccoli

Have you ever had the experience of wanting to change a behavior, and, starting with the best of intentions, you only go so long before you start to slide back into old habits? Well, you wouldn’t be alone. Some of our habits go back a looooong way, and so changing them is going to take some coaxing.

Not too many people can sustain change through sheer willpower alone. They need systems and supports to build up the mental “muscle memory” that supports the new behavior.

At the same time, there are some very real biological forces at work to keep…


In the course of freeing myself of a sugar addiction — which long hid behind the veil of “I’ll just work it off” — I discovered that there are (at least) five different ways that our bodies become dependent on sugar and simple carbs. With five different mechanisms at work, of course it’s going to be hard to quit! And, those mechanisms like things the way they are.

In this series of posts, I’ll explore each of the five areas:

  1. Pleasure and reward system (dopamine)
  2. Blood sugar/energy system
  3. Gut microbiome system
  4. Emotion & stress response system
  5. Habits & rituals

This…


How technologies in agriculture and food processing solved some problems and created others.

[photo by Kaique Rocha for Pexels]

With the advent of agricultural and food processing technologies over the past 100 years, we have been able to feed and grow the population. But those very technologies and many others have also led to a surge in chronic diseases, which kill more Americans than anything else.[1]

For the past 12,000 years or so, we humans have been cultivating food. …


Did you know that there’s power in your pleasure? Or rather, you hold the power to direct your pleasure, which can be a mighty tool as you improve your health. It starts with understanding your biology.

But you might ask: How can pleasure be used to improve my health, when it is the pursuit of pleasure (cookies, wine) that got me into trouble in the first place?

Excellent question! Please allow me to explain.

When the idea of quitting sugar comes up, most people resist strongly: They immediately think of life-without-chocolate, and start feeling deprived before they even start!

That’s…


Or, How has the American media culture machine contributed to our woes?

Photo by FOX from Pexels

Every day we swim through a sea of cultures: Among them are family culture, religious culture, regional culture, and organizational culture. But the pervasive culture that dominates and permeates them all is the American culture.

Culture in this context is defined as:

the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group [m-w.com]

Cultures are usually geographically specific, as customs are shaped by land, history, distances, available materials, and what grows in a specific region.

Up until about a hundred years ago, culture…


Yes, but it will take political will. Let’s support our legislators to get it done.

Imagine that a research expedition from another planet visited Earth. The aliens were studying what humans ate, how they got their food, and the health outcomes they experienced.

When they touched down in the more primitive societies, our imaginary aliens found simple methods of gathering, growing and preparing food. In these communities, people remained active and experienced little disease until their death.

When the aliens touched down in the more developed countries, the U.S. in particular, they found that almost no one was involved with gathering, growing and preparing their food. Instead, food came in boxes and cartons and bags…


Drawing of a brain with a keyhole and an antique key fitting into it.
Drawing of a brain with a keyhole and an antique key fitting into it.
Image by GDJ on Pixabay

One of the biggest barriers to starting a weight-loss plan is that people don’t want to feel deprived — something they anticipate when they think about not being able to eat their favorite foods. Totally understandable! This article will explain the neuroscience behind why that is so and explain how gratitude can help you feel satisfied.

Feeling deprived — or fear of feeling deprived — is a common and natural response to being told you can’t have something you love. If I said to you, “you can’t go on vacation,” or “you can’t have chocolate,” all the alarm bells would…


While it is true that to lose weight or get healthier you need to change what you are eating, many of us hold beliefs about food that inadvertently keep us from our goals. Underlying the way we eat, our attitudes about it and our resistance to changing our habits are a series of beliefs or myths about what is “good,” “healthy,” and “normal.” Let’s look at three of the most common of those health-undermining myths.

  • Myth #1: It’s just a “sweet tooth”
  • Myth #2: Sugar and flour are just “empty calories”
  • Myth #3: Calories In/Calories Out

Myth # 1: It’s…


What do you do after the train wreck?

Okay, so you over-did-it. Whether your go-to weapon of choice is something sweet, or a “Quarantini,” many of us will fend off stress and uncomfortable feelings by self-soothing with sugar or alcohol. That’s because there are real, chemical changes in the body that consuming sugar and alcohol ignite, helping us avoid uncomfortable feelings and stress.

Learning to face and experience our feelings is something we can all learn to do better; this article, however, is about how to constructively recover from an over-indulgence.

Being a recovering binger myself, I’m prone to over-indulging. After that first piece of cake or glass…

Dr. Andrea Grayson

Andrea is a Communications Consultant and Professor in the MPH program at UVM. She is creator of BreakingFreefromSugar.com. More info at: AndreaGrayson.com

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