Diet Rehab

Many diets seem to be a long list of "don'ts" as in don't eat carbs, don't eat meat, don't eat after 8PM. Diet Rehab is a fresh approach to losing weight that targets the underlying reasons for our food cravings and treating overeating like an addiction.

Dr. Mike Dow (the star of TLC's "Freaky Eaters") and Antonia Blyth have written a book called Diet Rehab. The diet is based on several scientific studies on the brain's reaction to consuming junk food. The Scripps Research Institute compared overeating to cocaine addiction in lab rats. Their results showed that, at least for rats, eliminating binging on high-fat food was as difficult as eliminating cocaine

Diet Rehab is a four week program that targets the junk food in your life. A gradual tapering off is suggested, rather than going "cold turkey" and eliminating junk food on day one.  The book talks about the release of dopamine and serotonin that comes with eating junk food. This pleasurable sensation is the driving factor behind junk food addiction. A gradual transition from junk food to healthier options needs to be accompanied by other activities that will trigger dopamine and serotonin releases.

The four week program takes your junk food addiction down gradually, with weekly activities and milestones. During week one you add what Dr. Dow calls a "boosting activity" each day. This activity (think yoga, meditation, napping or early bedtime, walking or other moderate exercise) will release dopamine and serotonin, just like eating junk food. During the first week you also replace one meal a day (or a snack, even) that would otherwise be junk food with healthier alternatives that also release dopamine and serotonin. This could be scrambled eggs for breakfast or a tuna salad lunch.

Week two has you bumping up the "good food" budget to twice a day. That means that two of your meals are now junk food free. Maybe you've added a grilled chicken breast for dinner or a nice piece of salmon instead of that Big Mac. You also have two boosting activities in every day. At this point your serotonin and dopamine releases are at least 50% from healthy triggers.

During week three you are low restricted to 900 calories a day from junk food. You also include three booster activities to your daily routine. Now you are really making a positive difference in your life between healthy foods and real exercise!

The final week your junk food budget is down to 600 calories a day. Check out the Burger King menu and you will discover that you don't get a lot for 600 calories. Booster activities take place four times a day. Now junk food is a very small part of your life and many people discover that they can just walk away.

Will this work for you? The Diet Rehab approach is not your typical diet, in fact it claims not to be a diet at all. Instead, it focuses on underlying drivers for binge eating and those junk food cravings that sabotage most diets. There are chapters in the book on changing your mind set about food, exercise and what really makes you happy. And isn't that what it is all about, anyway?

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