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Are food cravings shortening our lives?
Joan Ifland: Author, Processed Food Addiction
BY PETER BOWES | LOS ANGELES | MARCH 17, 2021 | 1410 PT
Why do we rush to the refrigerator during commercial breaks, while watching television? Are we really hungry or does TV fuel our addiction to foods that we know are bad for us?
“Without your agreement at all, you’re doing what we call the robot walk or the zombie walk to the kitchen to get something to eat,” says Joan Ifland, Ph.D., author of the textbook, Processed Food Addiction.
Dr. Ifland believes we are wired to snack, in response to stress, excitement and suspense, and that an addiction to sugar and processed food is making us sick. In this LLAMA podcast interview, with Peter Bowes, she discusses her mission to help people recover from an addiction to processed foods and why, she says, cleaning up our diets, especially ridding them of sugar, could add years to our lives.
Recorded: February 18, 2021 | Read a transcript
In this interview we cover:
- Melding the worlds of business and nutrition research
- Exploring what Dr. Ifland says is the role of corporations “in the spread and maintenance of addiction to processed foods”
- What is processed food?
- The difference between processed plant and animal-based foods.
- Food cravings, marketing, stress and addiction.
- How do we take control of what we eat, to avoid unhealthy foods – or “bad” foods – and what Dr. Ifland describes as “artificial aging”
“Somebody who is seventy years old can feel fifty or even forty or they might feel better than they’ve ever felt in their lives.”Joan Ifland
- Why is it so difficult to give up certain foods
- What is “conformance drive” and how does it influence what we eat.
- Associating with others, online, to build an immersion experience with healthy people
- Dr. Ifland’s diet change, 25-years ago, that she says eliminated cravings and “brain fog”
- Why do we fall off the wagon and return to bad eating habits?
- How does the Addiction Reset Community work?
- The connection between watching the television and eating too much.
- The impact of Covid on “clean” eating and food addictions.
- The “purpose” of living a long healthy life
The Live Long and Master Aging podcast shares ideas but does not offer medical advice. If you have health concerns of any kind, or you are considering adopting a new diet or exercise regime, you should consult your doctor.
- This episode is brought to you in association with JUVICELL, the all-in-one longevity supplement that contains 10 key ingredients shown to have a positive impact on healthspan, as validated by scientific studies. To find out more, visit juvicell.com
Joan Ifland: [00:00:00] The older I get, the longer I think I’m going to live, but not just be alive, be productive, I have full use of my brain. You know, I walk. I just have a great life. So how do you get to this? Because this is worth fighting for.
Peter Bowes: [00:00:22] Hello and welcome to the Live Long and Master Aging podcast. My name is Peter Bowes. This is where we explore the science and stories behind human longevity.
JUVICELL: [00:00:32] This episode is brought to you in association with JUVICELL, the all-in-one longevity supplement that contains 10 key ingredients shown to have a positive impact on healthspan as validated by scientific studies. To find out more, visit JUVICELL.com. That’s JUVICELL.com.
Peter Bowes: [00:00:52] Today, we’re going to talk about food, processed food and being addicted to food. What we eat and the impact of food on our health and potential healthspan is central to just about everything that we discuss on this podcast, week after week, I’m joined by Dr. Joan Ifland. Joan is a leading authority on addiction to processed foods. She is the lead author and editor of the book, appropriately titled, Processed Food Addiction. Dr. Ifland, welcome to the Live Long and Master Aging podcast.
Joan Ifland: [00:01:24] Oh, thank you for having me. I appreciate your coverage of this topic.
Peter Bowes: [00:01:28] It’s good to talk to you before we delve into what really is a fascinating topic, just a little bit about you. You’ve got a Ph.D. in addictive nutrition. You’ve got an MBA a Master of Business Administration degree from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. So does that mean that you, in a sense, meld the worlds of science and business together in your work?
Joan Ifland: [00:01:48] Absolutely. For a long time when I got into the processed food addiction, I thought, wow, I really wonder if I wasted my time getting that MBA. And then gradually I began to understand that this was a corporation business model that spread processed food addiction the same way that addiction to cigarettes was spread. It’s an addiction business model. So I became very grateful for my business background. I worked in a Fortune 200 corporation for five years after getting out of business school. I grew up in a corporate household. My dad was a biochemist who worked for a consumer goods corporation for his entire career. And this is it’s essential to understand the role of corporations in the spread and maintenance of addiction to processed foods, because once you know what their tactics are and then you know how to defend against them. But it is. And then we, as we swung around to develop online services for recovery from the addiction, I again, I needed a business model to provide those services and to provide jobs providing those services. So we have a whole beautiful integrated system now where people can train to manage and help other people with the addiction.
Peter Bowes: [00:03:17] Interesting, someone once said to me in this field that even in the area of science, if something can’t be pursued with a business model around it successfully, well, it probably isn’t successful per say. Perhaps the message is wrong.
Joan Ifland: [00:03:31] And particularly with this situation, because processed food addiction, as I’m finding and I learned from writing the textbook, is typically severe. Why? Because the messaging it’s the messaging that’s surrounding the person, reinforcing, it’s the conformance drive. Other people are eating processed foods. I want to eat them too. You are successful in helping somebody stop the severe addiction by replacing that with surround messaging and healthy people to conform to that requires a tremendous amount of organizing and resources, but particularly people, people who understand how to express compassion and build up a person who might have been beaten down by the addiction.
Peter Bowes: [00:04:22] So let’s go back to basics, what is processed food?
Joan Ifland: [00:04:26] So processed food, it’s one of the reasons why the addiction is typically so severe and very severe. I mean, it’s really hard to give it up consistently for the long term is because there are a lot of different substances involved. So it’s not like smoking. You have nicotine. That is what you’re going to be battling. In this one you have sugar. Any kind of a sweetener will hyper activate the dopamine pathway. You have flour,which is active in the serotonin pathway. You have dairy, excessive salt that activate the opiate pathways, same pathways as opium. And then you have dairy also activates a pathway and process to activate the same pathways, marijuana. And then you have coffee, cup of caffeine, which activates dopamine and then food additives.
Peter Bowes: [00:05:21] But these are the ingredients of the vast majority of foods that we eat and to some extent they are the basic ingredients if you’re talking about sugar and flour and salt. So
Joan Ifland: [00:05:32] Yeah.
Peter Bowes: [00:05:33] Just to get a precise definition, just to really fully understand this, of what is a processed food, is it anything that’s not in its original wholefood form? So in other words, anything that’s done to a food to change it from its original as it comes out of the ground form, is it then processed?
Joan Ifland: [00:05:51] Yes, plants, plants, it doesn’t make any difference if you grind up an animal product and you make ground meat out of it, That is processing, but that does not make it more addictive. But plants have natural endorphins. So it’s very cool that Mother Nature gave us a source of pleasure associated with eating in addition to just I’m not going to die. So you’re you’re supposed to get a nice feeling from eating these plants. But when they are processed, when they are concentrated, the fiber is taken out, they’re heated to high temperatures. They get into the system way too fast. They create a glucose high and then they can travel to the brain in high enough quantities because are concentrated to create that addiction, especially when it’s combined with this messaging. So it’s a it’s a marketing technique that the addiction business merchants use codes around marketing. They hide addictive substances in the product like they hid nicotine, extra nicotine in cigarettes. They addict the reward centers in the brain and then they constantly stimulate those addicted reward centers with this surround marketing. So that’s why it’s so hard to give up. All of the centers are addicted in a processed food addiction and then they’re constantly being stimulated by processed food advertising, availability, coupons, cheap prices, stressful television, stress activates the addiction, and people get to the point where they’re just feeling like, oh, gosh, I just I crave food all the time. It’s all I think about. And and then you just see how far advanced the addiction is that is really taken over people’s thinking.
Peter Bowes: [00:07:50] So if we then accept and I think it is pretty obvious to most of us that there is this external pressure on us to consume these processed foods, they’re strategically placed in the in the market as we’re leaving to get us to buy them. There is clearly an incentive, at least from those selling these goods, to get us to buy them and to eat them. And if we therefore acknowledge that they’re not good for us and that we’d be much better off eating the whole foods that the plants in their original form with a nice variety of foods, what do we how do we take control ourselves? And what do we do about this?
Joan Ifland: [00:08:25] This is the key question, how do we take control, everybody around us is eating them, they’re triggering our conformance drive. We know in our frontal lobe that we don’t want to eat them. We know that they’re not unhealthy. They’re bad, just unhealthy. Doesn’t even begin. They’re worse than cigarettes. Somebody I admire very much in my field once said we were healthier when we were smoking. And that person is absolutely right. So I know this is a podcast about aging. Processed foods actually create aging. It’s artificial aging because time after time I’ve been in the field now for twenty five years. Any age person practically who gets off of them feels younger and they are younger. Their organs are working better, their brain is working much better. Their skin is working better. They’re filtering systems are working better. The inflammation is gone. The gut is actually absorbing nutrition. It’s it’s a dramatic and very worthwhile change. Somebody who is 70 years old can feel fifty or even forty or they might feel better than they’ve ever felt in their lives. I’m sixty nine years old. I don’t have anything wrong with me. I have asthma because I was a smoker. But my blood work is perfect and it’s perfect. Year after year, I’m looking forward to another thirty years of vigorous life. I’m starting to say forty. The older I get, the longer I think I’m going to live. But not just be alive, be productive. I have full use of my brain. You know, I walk. I just have a great life. So how do you get to this? Because this is worth fighting for. And I know this might sound. Let me just give you the science, but when somebody has been subjected for their whole lives to this messaging about how yummy these foods are, you really want to stop using them, you know better and you find yourself using them. And the fact that you can’t stop it is really distressing. Here’s the key. It’s conformance drive. Conformance drive is a surprisingly powerful part of the brain. So how do you stop conforming to the people eating processed foods around you and start conforming to people that you’ve never met? You can’t conform to somebody you’ve never met or seen on TV. So that is the problem that we went to solve. We have put a healthy community online and we’ve created a whole system of fun things to do online coupled with education. I’d love to do the education, explain the science. And it’s a it’s a program that we created. It’s called the Addiction Reset Community. And we now we around the world, I think we’re in 18 countries around the world and it works over Zoom. Zoom works for engaging conformance drive because all these healthy people are you see them enough. We have hours and hours. I think we’re up to eleven hours a day on Zoome through the week and nine hours on the weekend. And then we have a huge video archive and we send out a podcast every day so people can can literally immerse. It’s the same way you would learn a language, you would immerse yourself in the language, you would listen only to that language and pretty soon you’re speaking it. But if you, like, tried to learn a language in one hour a week, it probably would never happen. So we know that’s that’s our big discovery, is that we can we can provide immersion recovery, control, education, support over Zoom. And so we are.
Peter Bowes: [00:12:32] Let me backtrack a little. You say you’re 69 years old, you’re a former smoker. How long have you been eating what you would consider to be an optimum diet?
Joan Ifland: [00:12:41] Twenty five years ago, I made my first, what we knew to be clean at that time, I eliminated sugars and flowers and so many amazing things started happening. That is why I adopted this as a career. Twenty five years ag. I was 44 years old and the craving stopped. The brain fog stopped, the fatigue stopped, and the random joint pain stopped. The asthma got much, much better. The allergies stopped, the constant sinus infection stopped. And now I know why. Because processed foods are inflammatory. They disrupt digestion, they disrupt hormone function, they destabilize blood glucose, and the inflammation reaches the brain. And then you’ve got this active addiction in the brain. So you have a lot of mechanisms interfering with mental capabilities, emotional capabilities and physical capabilities. It seems quite miraculous, especially for somebody who’s given up, oh, I’m 80 years old. I give up. No, don’t give up. It’s worth fighting because you have another 20 years. 20 years is an incredibly long time. You get off of this and suddenly you’re not feeling eighty anymore. You’re feeling sixty or fifty or even forty. I have in these twenty five years seeing people of all ages undertake this and nobody has ever been sorry – nobody has ever looked look back on and said, wow, I’m sorry I did that. Everybody is shocked in the happiest way.
Peter Bowes: [00:14:29] And just to dig a little deeper, when you say you give up sugar, very broad statement in practical terms, because clearly sugar is in a lot of foods, a lot of
Joan Ifland: [00:14:40] Yeah,
Peter Bowes: [00:14:40] whole foods. What does that actually mean?
Joan Ifland: [00:14:43] So it means it’s just what you were saying before, if it still looks like it looked at the moment of harvest, eat it. And so what would be a typical breakfast? Well, you can have a breakfast steak, you can have three eggs and then a piece of fruit and a low sugar fruit and maybe some gluten-free still cut oats.` That’s a great breakfast and lunch. Could be, you know, maybe you got two or three breakfast steaks. You can have another breakfast egg for lunch and any kind of a raw vegetable. And then I like rice or winter squash, butternut squash or green peas or a sweet potato, some kind of starch and then two teaspoons of high-quality fat. And so sometimes people just panic at the thought of giving up anything. And a good way to start trying this is to make the meals, make the real meals, just start eating the real meals. Don’t focus on giving anything up because by eating the real meals you will stabilize your blood glucose and that will cut cravings for the bad stuff.
Peter Bowes: [00:16:00] So bread is completely out?
Joan Ifland: [00:16:02] Yeah, I know there’s some really deceptive products out there, but in order to create the texture of a bread, you’ve got to powder a carbohydrate and that literally, you know, you think about drugs. Cocaine is in a powder. Why? Because it’s in powdered form that the cocaine can get into the system fast enough to create a high. You’re searching for that high. And that’s why the processed foods are either in syrups or liquids like alcohol or a powder or a crystal like sugar is typically a crystal. Why? Because that is how you concentrate the addictive substance and create a vehicle that it can get into the system fast enough to create a high. And then you have the crash that’s in the crash where the intense urge and longing and the loss of control happens. You just the crash is painful. You try to get out of it by using more. You create a new high and then a new crash. That’s an addiction.
Peter Bowes: [00:17:14] Dr. Ifland, this is a fascinating conversation. we’re going to pause for a moment, will continue in less than a minute. You’re listening to the Live Long and Most Aging podcast.
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Peter Bowes: [00:18:07] I’m talking to Dr. Joan Ifland, leading authority on addiction to processed foods. And we’ve talked about how you can how you have, in fact, your life optimized that diet. I think the big problem for clearly a lot of people, and I would include myself, is when you get onto that optimized diet, is then at some point falling off it again. Why do we do that? And what can we do to stop ourselves going back to those bad habits?
Joan Ifland: [00:18:33] Ok, this is this is a super excellent question. Here’s how to visualize that. It’s such a good question because people really beat themselves up for falling off. But once you know that it’s not your fault that you fell off and you don’t beat yourself up, it’s actually easier to get back to a safe food plan. So envision that there are three armies living in your brain. There’s the addiction army. There’s the conformance drive army, and there’s the frontal lobe – a rational thought army. OK, you got three. What the food industry was able to do was addict the reward centers. They created the addicted army and then through their advertising, they hijacked they kidnapped the conformance drive. And so now they’ve created this alliance between the addicted brain and conformance drive. Conformist tribe is very powerful for the seven million years of brain evolution. If you had good conformance drive, you would be in a tribe, you’d be in a clan, and you would live because the clan would find food, find shelter, deliver your babies and protect you from predators. You would live long enough to procreate and pass on your genes. But if you didn’t have conformance drive and you really like to wander off on your own quite a bit, you wouldn’t live very long. The predators would get you. So conformance drive actually runs quite a bit of the brain. And when the food manufacturers got conformance drive to create an alliance with the addicted brain, because everybody around us is eating it and everybody on TV is eating it, you drive down the road and everybody is lined up at those fast food places. Conformance drive is is in this deep, tight alliance with the addicted brain cells. OK, and then you have this lonely, it’s two on one, and this lonely frontal lobe all by itself where rational thought is that those substances are killing us slowly. Those substances give us diabetes. They give us dementia, they give us brain fog. They give us heart disease. They give us joint pain. You know, because of the diabetes were at risk of amputation, blindness and kidney failure, skin problems, chronic infections. Now we’re vulnerable to mortality from covid. So that’s all in the frontal lobe. It doesn’t have enough blood flow to control behavior. All the blood flow is going to these active addicted in conformance drive brain cells. So all this great knowledge is, cannot help you. So what do you do about that? You have to get conformance drive to change sides. You have to get conformance drive to create an alliance with the frontal lobe. How do you do that? You’ve got to surround that person with people who are eating clean. And as long as that conformance drive is seeing other people eating clean and saying, OK, well, we need to do that, we need to do that because if we don’t eat clean, the you know, the giant hyena is going to get us. So the cool thing is, is that once conformance drive has been recruited to align with the frontal lobe, those two parts of the brain get all the blood flow. The addicted part of the brain doesn’t get enough blood flow to control behavior. So that that is why the Addiction Reset Community works where nothing else has worked. In an eight week boot camp to lose weight is like the worst thing you could do for this, because it creates hunger. You have a tribe, you’re trying to conform to the tribe and then the tribe disappears after eight weeks. We see this in the research all the time. You have a study group study, a study project, a research project. You recruit people to the study. They do great while they’re in this study. The study is over. And then the researchers follow up a year later and everybody has fallen off. Well, they conformance drive engagement during the study and then that stopped. Some researchers are beginning to realize that that is what’s going on. The study, creates a strong enough community to engage the conformance drive and get the conformance drive to come over and align with rational thought rather than addicted thought.
Peter Bowes: [00:23:27] And what you just said beautifully explains then why it is so difficult for most people because you say surround yourself with others who are eating clean and it is clearly going to be beneficial to you. But that’s not what people do. And everyone watches. Most people watch television
Joan Ifland: [00:23:42] Mm
Peter Bowes: [00:23:42] And the
Joan Ifland: [00:23:43] Hmm.
Peter Bowes: [00:23:43] Message from the advertisements between the drama or the soap opera or whatever you watching at seven o’clock in the evening, it’s all bombarding you with, as you’ve described, in those negative messages about fast food and processed food.
Joan Ifland: [00:23:57] Well, it would be one thing if it were just the commercials, the television started in the 1950s and Procter and Gamble got on immediately to the marketing potential in television. So say great, we can put three minutes of commercials every 15 minutes. That’s terrific. What are we going to fill out the rest of the time with? Oh, I know opera. Opera, opera is so stressful. Opera’s always tragic. Somebody is always dying in the worst way. Yes. Will create stress, will make people really upset, and then they’ll have the urge to buy something. So the stress brain cells are very close to the addicted brain cells. So stress will activate those addicted brain cells. You start to pull the blood flow to those addicted brain cells. And, you know, you feel like a robot has embarked, is has gotten into your body – you at down at the television ‘I’m not eating anything more tonight.’ And then, you know, without your agreement at all, you’re doing what we call the robot walk or the zombie walk to the kitchen to get something to eat. Well, television through the stress mechanism has activated the addiction. The addiction has pulled the blood flow away from the frontal lobe where your braking system is, your rational thought. And there you are, going to the kitchen to eat something that you hadn’t been planning to eat. This is what addictions do.
Peter Bowes: [00:25:24] And so this explains why you’re watching a melodrama that reaches a crescendo at the end at five minutes to the hour, you suddenly realize what’s happening, you’re scared, you’re relieved, your anxiety levels are up. And as you explain that, that is precisely the point that we all see ourselves disappearing off into the kitchen and
Joan Ifland: [00:25:46] Yes.
Peter Bowes: [00:25:46] Not being rational at all and eating those things that we we’ve just been talking about actually knowing and almost having a discussion with ourselves that says, I know this isn’t good for me, but I’m going to
Joan Ifland: [00:25:56] Yeah,
Peter Bowes: [00:25:56] do it anyway.
Joan Ifland: [00:25:57] Yeah, yeah, the frontal lobe is screaming, no, no, no, and the addicted neurons are saying yes, yes, yes. But the frontal lobe is such a tiny part of the brain and the addicted neurons when they went, it’s a battle. Just think of it as a battle going on inside the brain. And people do experience it that way. I am so tired of this battle. I don’t want to eat it. And then I’m eating it. I don’t want to eat it and then I’m eating it. That is literally different clumps of neurons are competing for blood supply and then control of behavior.
Peter Bowes: [00:26:36] You mentioned covid a few moments ago. I’m just curious, everything that we’re all while still going through, it’s been over a year now. What have we learned as we move forward in terms of our health, our daily habits from this pandemic that’s completely turned our lives upside down. But I think I know try constantly to look at positive messages that are coming out of the way that we’ve been living and perhaps will be living in the future.
Joan Ifland: [00:27:01] Well, for me personally, it’s been terrific because even though I eat clean, I go to restaurants and I order clean food, but now in the quarantine, I haven’t been able to do that. And I realize those foods are not really clean. Restaurants are hiding things in that food. And so for me personally, it’s been great. My food plan has simplified, simplified, simplified, and I picked out some more foods I don’t want to eat. So I think I have the most elegant, simple, clean food plan I’ve ever had in my life. So for most people, they started out the quarantine saying, well, this is so terrible, I’m going to eat whatever I want. And the addiction became more powerful. And then, you know, the weeks went by and they said, oh, I really need to eat better. And they found that they couldn’t because the addiction had settled in. It’s just like when people want to quit smoking, you know, I really got to quit smoking and they couldn’t. That is when we discovered the addiction. It’s a hidden addiction and sometimes people don’t realize they have it until they want to stop it. And then they experience what we’ve just been talking about, which is the addictive neurons are pulling their blood supply away from the frontal lobe. And even though they want to frontal lobe wants to stop. Addicted neurons don’t want to stop. It’s all in the balance of where the conformance drive lands. So what has happened, I think, is that processed food addiction has gotten worse through the quarantine. All of the delivery companies just leapt into the gap. And I will hear people saying it used to be OK for me to go home. But now I know that all they have to do is press a button on my phone and the bad stuff will be at my front door within moments. So it should have gotten easier. You should have had reduced queuing from being in grocery stores and food environments. It should have gotten better. But these commercial interests just, you know, kept up the pressure. And now there are coupons coming over the phone. And in other words, the food industry was able to ramp up the amount of food stimulation inside the home. And as a result, I’m going to say something that might sound over the top, but I’ll back it up. If it weren’t for the processed food addiction epidemic, because, you know, around the world now, two billion people are overweight or obese. The tobacco industry used its tobacco distribution channels in its advertising channels to spread processed foods around the globe in an incredibly short time, 20 years. Now, two billion people on the earth are overweight or obese. So now the World Health Organization, clearly diet related diseases are the leading cause of death on the planet. It’s overtaken smoking. Before covid hit the United States, one thousand eight hundred people per day were dying from diet related diseases like five hundred and seventy six thousand people a year. So covid came in on top of that. And we know that 60 percent of the mortality from covid is in people who have a diet related condition. So I’m going. Now I feel like I could make the statement. If it weren’t for processed food addiction, we wouldn’t be having to take the extreme measures that we’re taking around covid. It’s covid plus processed food addiction.
Peter Bowes: [00:30:54] And I just wonder, you just reminded me of something, of course, we watch the evening news here in the States, in the U.K. as well that I’m familiar with. And every day we get an update on the number of new cases of covid, the number of people who’ve died on that particular day because of
Joan Ifland: [00:31:10] Mm
Peter Bowes: [00:31:10] Covid.
Joan Ifland: [00:31:10] Hmm.
Peter Bowes: [00:31:10] It is unimaginable that in a different time that we’ll be getting daily updates on the number
Joan Ifland: [00:31:15] It’ll never happen.
Peter Bowes: [00:31:16] …who have died through what they’re eating. And as you say, clearly, it is never going to happen, but it is a real issue.
Joan Ifland: [00:31:23] So it’s a very real issue, and what you see in that is the complicity of media, the complicity of government agencies, because really every time you see one of those lists. Wear masks and wash your hands, avoid gatherings, eat clean food. You never see eat clean food on the list. It’s very doable if you are around clean eating people is very easy for you’re around clean. It’s impossible. We have research showing that if your social circle is not eating clean, it’s not reasonable to expect that you will also that you could eat differently from your social circle, whether it’s your family or friends or whatever. You’ve got to persuade your brain that you’re in a new social circle and that conformist tribe needs to latch onto that new search, new circle. So this it’s it’s a bad situation. It’s just gotten worse and worse.
Peter Bowes: [00:32:24] And what you’re saying really is that people perhaps need to make some very, very big decisions about the way that they live their lives and and that applies to who their friends are and what they do with their friends. And that in itself is going to be very tough for people.
Joan Ifland: [00:32:38] It’s so the way we work our support system is we work very hard to get the conformance drive to attach to the addiction research community for food decisions. So we’re providing a lot of what’s called associative queuing, Pavlovian conditioning, so that when you see somebody eating bad food, you you go to compassion for them. So so we can train the brain through repeat images and discussion. You see somebody eating it. You say, oh, gosh, I’m so sorry, they’re eating it. They’re putting their lives at risk. I know that much that hurts them. And while this addiction is really severe. So what you’re doing is you’re teaching the brain to have that reaction rather than, oh, I love what they’re eating and oh, gosh, I should probably eat with them because, well, you know, we’re friends and maybe they won’t like me anymore if I don’t eat that. So that’s the addicted. You’re just it is learning a language inside the brain. If you’re going to France and you want to speak French there, you start studying French and you make flashcards on one side of the card it says building. On the other side of the flashcard, it says bâtiments. And so that when you go to France and you’re being stimulated by a hearing in French around you, your brain, when it sees that that structure is going to say bâtiments. So that’s exactly the same process that we’re teaching our community members. When you see somebody eating that stuff, you say, oh, gosh, I’m so sorry, that hurts them so much. This addiction is wicked. You don’t want them to say, wow, that looks good. I’m going to have some too. You can train the brain to do that. It’s it takes years. I’m not going to say, oh, you just get a recording. You can teach yourself the language of addiction recovery. It takes a long time.
Peter Bowes: [00:34:38] And just in closing, you mentioned a little earlier about your own age and how long you think you’re going to continue to live and live a healthy life, 20. And then I think you added another 10 years, perhaps even
Joan Ifland: [00:34:49] Yeah.
Peter Bowes: [00:34:50] 30 years. So I’m interested. This is a podcast about longevity and healthspan. I often use that phrase. What are your own aspirations, do you think? Is it something you think about a lot?
Joan Ifland: [00:35:01] Oh, gosh, yes, yes, I have a lot to do in those 30 years. Purpose. We also give our members purpose. We teach them how to help other people. It’s something that drains out of life as we age. You know, we’re having to be taken care of instead of being able to take care of other people. Yeah. So this year, for example, we’re starting a practitioner’s program. So practitioners graduate from medical school. Now, my daughter is a medical doctor and she’s married to a medical doctor. So I know what it took to get her into that profession. It was about 10 years of education and about three quarters of a million dollars in fees, expenses and foregone income. And all of these practitioners are graduating without the core bit of knowledge that they need, which they they are. You see doctors retiring early because they’re so frustrated. They’re watching their diabetics descend into pain. They can’t stop it. They tell their diabetics what to do. The diabetics can’t do it. There’s this invisible wall between the practitioner and the patient of the addiction. The practitioner can’t see it, doesn’t know to diagnose it, doesn’t know how to look for it, doesn’t know how to refer for it. So that is my next step as a practitioners program, a place where they can come and recover from their own addictions and really get deep training in how to be compassionate instead of, you know, they they blame themselves. They blame the patient. They’re upset. Something’s wrong. They have all this training. They’ve been told that there are now powerful and they’re just seeing their patients descend into heart disease and all these other terrible things. So they need a program too. They need reassurance that this is not your fault. We tell our own people all the time are addicted people. This is not your fault. Nobody gets how severe. This is a severe addiction. Starts young, lots of substances, lots of stimulation, lots of conformist drive. Try this is a really tough addiction. We have figured out how to make it easy to recover from. But yeah. So the practitioner’s program I want where I have it, I put it we have a brand new website, processedfoodaddiction.com I have a segment there. It’s a dream right now to do workplace consulting because employers are making this worse by making processed foods available, easily available in the workplace and then shaming people who have accumulated the fat tissue on their bodies. And then way down at the bottom of that website is it’s a long term dream to be an expert witness in legal proceedings. Legal and regulatory proceedings. Are – this is how tobacco was finally kind of brought to heel is through the courts. The governments were paralyzed by the election campaign contributions and by the influence. It’s just we’re not going to get help from government, but sooner or later, we will start getting help from the courts. You know, I’m sixty nine. I have no business starting new businesses. Right. I’m way too old to start new businesses. Not, you know, not not at all. I have perfect health. I have tremendous mental capability and great endurance and stamina. I have great people who are also clean. You know, it’s amazing how different it is to work with a person who has no substances. That’s the other reason why this addiction is so hard to beat. It’s because it’s the last one. All the other addictions, alcohol and drugs they transfer, they’re addicted people from the presenting substance on to processed foods. They don’t really recover. They just switch to addictions that don’t look as bad. And we’re the last ones. So we transfer people on to really wonderful ways to manage mood that doesn’t involve dozens of ways to manage mood. It doesn’t give way to just through thought to create your own dopamine releases in your brain, which are very beneficial. They make you genuinely happy. So, yeah, I’m starting lots of new businesses.
Peter Bowes: [00:39:47] Dr. Ifland, and this has been a fascinating clearly a very important conversation. Thank you very much indeed.
Joan Ifland: [00:39:52] Thanks for having me. I appreciate your covering this a lot.
Peter Bowes: [00:39:55] My pleasure. And if you would like to read more about Dr. Ifland’s work and the textbook Processed Food Addiction, I will, as ever, put some details into the show notes for this episode. You’ll find them at the Live Long and Master aging website. That’s LLAMApodcast.com LLAMApodcast.com The LLAMA podcast is a Healthspan Media Production. If you enjoy what we do, you can rate and reviewers at Apple Podcasts, you can follow us on social media @LLAMApodcast and direct message me @PeterBowes Do take care. Many thanks for listening.