Are you finding yourself eating more and more throughout the day because there’s nothing much to do these days? Are you struggling with overeating or nighttime eating? In this episode, Dr. Glenn Livingston is back on the show with us, and he talks about his pig and pigula. He also shares some tips on how to overcome overeating
[0:00:00] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 423. I am so excited for today’s guest. We have back on the show Dr. Glenn Livingston. Glenn was in episode 56, 249, and 231, so it’s been a while since you’ve been on the show. Although it just feels like yesterday. It’s amazing, time—although linear—doesn’t feel linear, does it Glenn?
[0:00:41] Dr. Glenn Livingston: It goes by so quickly. I think the last time I was on this show I had all my hair and teeth.
[0:00:48] Ashley James: And you still do?
[0:00:50] Dr. Glenn Livingston: I still do, yeah.
[0:00:52] Ashley James: Okay, good.
[0:00:55] Dr. Glenn Livingston: It was back in the days when I had all my hair and teeth. Time goes really quickly.
[0:01:02] Ashley James: Yes it does. When we had you on the show last—episode 231—you had just published your second book. Now listeners can get a free copy of your book Never Binge Again by going to truehealtheating.com. That’s truehealtheating.com. Your book is fantastic. One of our listeners—I should have pulled up the actual quote in our Facebook group. We have a Learn True Health Facebook group. One of our listeners—after listening to episodes with you—said, “Tonight is the first night I ate dinner without anxiety.” She was like, “This is no kidding. I have never felt at peace while eating. This is my first experience feeling at peaceful while eating.” She made me cry. She was so grateful for the information.
Some people don’t even know their constant anxiety around food. There’s the constant pressure and stress around food, and all the emotions wrapped up around food, that’s their norm. When they go through your literature, your workshop, all your information, your free book they gain a sense of peace with food.
[0:02:21] Dr. Glenn Livingston: Does my heart good, really does my heart good. There’s misinformation in the culture about how to develop a peaceful relationship with food. Most people think we’re supposed to use guidelines like, “I avoid chocolate 90% of the time.” It’s a good guideline. It’s a good idea in theory. It’s like a good North Star to shoot for, but the problem with it is that every time you’re in front of a chocolate bar there’s this little voice inside you that says, “Is this part of the 10% or is this part of the 90%? Am I being good or am I being bad?”
It’s almost like having a little kid and they see a candy bar in your hand. “Mommy, can I? Mommy, can I? How about now? How about now? How about now?” Because they know that sometimes they can. Whereas if you use the hard and fast rule and you said, “Well, I’ll only ever have chocolate on the last three days of the calendar month.” You’d still be avoiding chocolate 90% of the time but your decisions would have been made for you, and there’d be no reason for that little kid to keep asking all month long until the 27th.
You’d have a newfound peace with food having made really hard and fast decisions about what role the chocolate was going to play in your life. You wouldn’t be constantly struggling with all these thoughts of maybe I should and maybe I shouldn’t, which is what ruins people’s relationship with food. I think that information is just that out there. When people adopt it, and they create a very clear rule, and they declare themselves confident they actually become confident. That voice shuts up eventually.
[0:04:06] Ashley James: To be able to have that peace where the voice isn’t all the time there. Some people have had that for so long they don’t even believe that’s possible. You’re saying that going through the work they can get to a place where that voice doesn’t control them anymore.
[0:04:22] Dr. Glenn Livingston: I suffered for 30 years. My life was about, “When am I going to get to the deli? When can I get to the pizza place? How much chocolate will I have? How will I stop? How will I make up for it? How will I hide the evidence? How much weight am I going to gain? Will anybody notice? Will I be able to see patients when I’m all charged up on chocolate?” That was my life. I’d be sitting with a suicidal patient and I’ll be thinking, “I want a chocolate Pop-Tarts.” Thankfully, I never lost anybody. I was really dedicated, but really I was not 100% present because I was very drained and distracted by these constant thoughts about food.
Once I discovered that there is a way to find peace, which it didn’t require me to solve all my emotional problems. Yeah, I was going to chocolate because I was lonely and depressed. I was in a bad marriage. I didn’t really have a lot of satisfaction in my life. That was all true, but it didn’t have to solve all that to stop bingeing on chocolate. I just had to be really clear about the rules, be clear about what that underlying voice of justification was that said, “You worked out hard enough so you can have chocolate even it’s not the last calendar three days of the month.” Or “Chocolate comes from a cocoa bean, which is a plant and therefore it’s a vegetable.” Or whatever that voice was saying.
Once I learned that I could hear that and ignore it or logically refute it, then I found peace. I wish I had love in my life. I wish I was coupled at this point. I still struggle with some of those things. I still have loneliness and brokenhearted moments and everything like that, but I don’t have to binge anymore.
[0:06:15] Ashley James: You don’t have to go to food to medicate it, to numb the pain of feeling lonely.
[0:06:24] Dr. Glenn Livingston: Yes, that’s true. I think that the self-medication paradigm is only half the story. I think that in it of itself it fuels overeating. The actual paradigm that I’m eating for comfort, I’m eating to numb myself out because I’m unhappy, and uncomfortable with my life, and it’s the only thing I’ve learned how to self-soothe. When people tell me that, for example, they’re eating too much chocolate to numb out, I’ll say, “That’s really interesting. Have you ever been to the dentist to fill a cavity?” They all say, “Yeah.” Because most people have had a cavity. I say, “Well, did the dentist say to you, ‘I’m out of novocaine. I think I’m going to inject you with some chocolate instead, is that okay?’”
The point of that is that chocolate is not really something that has a numbing effect. Donuts, dentist is not going to inject you with donuts either, or bagels, or potato chips, or any of the other things that people supposedly turn to for comfort. The point I’m trying to make is that there’s another impact of the artificially counterfeited sources of pleasure we call comfort. That impact is a food high. You’re having chocolate because it’s a concentration of theobromine, and caffeine, and sugar, and fat, and vanilla, and all sorts of other good-tasting neurological stimulants that give you the feeling like you’re in love and really change your perception of the world like a drug.
It’s perfectly legal. I’ll fight for your right to do it if you want to do it. I’m not saying we have to eliminate chocolate, but it is a drug. Part of the reason that we’re having it is to get high with food. We’re not just numbing out we’re getting high with food. That is a paradigm people need to shift to if they really want to stop overeating. Because if you think you’re just eating for comfort or to numb yourself out, you’re going to want to be empathetic to that lizard brain voice inside of you. When it says, “Eat, eat, eat,” you’re going to go, “Here you go, poor baby. Poor baby, you need a hug.”
There are two problems with that. First of all, the part of the brain that responds to food addiction—which is the same part of the brain that’s responsible for the feast and famine response, for the fight-or-flight response—it’s a very primitive reptilian part of the brain. When it evolved, it didn’t really know love. Here we are thinking that food addiction has everything to do with not being loved enough, not offering yourself enough self-love, but the lizard brain doesn’t really know love. It looks at something in the environment and it says, “What am I supposed to do with that thing? Do I eat it, do I mate with it, or do I kill it?” That’s the level—that’s the primitive level—at which the lizard brain operates. We’re all here trying to love it out of its impulse.
What we should be doing is dominating it instead. It’s like your bladder. Your bladder forces for expression. It says, “You really got to pee. You got to pee right now.” You say, “Oh, wait a minute. I’m in charge. I’m in a meeting now. I’ll definitely take care of you later, but I’m going to do it in a particular way at a particularly time of my choosing.” I’m very comfortable with that impulse, not at all frightened of it. I know that I’ll give myself a bathroom break in an hour and a half or so if I need it or sooner if I have to. As a civilized human being, I go about my day. I don’t compulsively pee in the street or in the middle of a meeting.
People are very mixed up about how you’re supposed to handle the impulse to overeat. They don’t think of it is a pure biological impulse that they’ve developed a very bad habit around. They think of it as the manifestation of an emotional conflict. They think of it as associated with all these loving memories with their mother, or the grandparents, or their dad. As a result, you could spend 30 years in psychotherapy trying to work through all your innermost conflicts. You might get a lot of benefit out of working through your innermost conflicts in psychotherapy, but if you’re like me, I did that. I became a very soulful person. I think it’s a big part of who I am, but it didn’t stop me from overeating.
I binge my way through 30 years of psychotherapy. That’s why I think we need to shift paradigms from self-medication to getting high with food and from the love yourself thin paradigm to the alpha wolf paradigm which says, “Look, this thing in my brain—this primitive part of my brain, my feast or famine response—it’s challenging me for leadership in the same way that a lower member of a wolf pack might challenge the alpha wolf. When the alpha wolf is challenged in a wolf pack—challenge for leadership—it doesn’t say, “Oh my goodness. Someone needs a hug. Come here you, poor baby. Let me take care of you. Let me feed you.”
The alpha wolf growls, and snarls, and says, “Get back in line or I’ll kill you.” My big discovery was that I had to break out of this love myself thin paradigm and into this alpha wolf paradigm where I just refuse to let my lizard brain take control.
[0:12:19] Ashley James: This part of the brain that is responsible for mating, killing, and eating for survival because that’s all we have to do to make sure that we can pass on our genetic code to the next generation. Eat to stay alive, and mate to reproduce, and then kill to survive, and eat. Why does that part of the brain want to overeat? Why doesn’t everyone overeat?
[0:12:54] Dr. Glenn Livingston: Most people do overeat at times beyond their best judgment. There are other people who choose other vices. People do too much marijuana, or they get involved in negative sexual relationships, or they get involved with gambling, or some other type of impulsive vice. Most people struggle with the lizard brain’s expression in some way. What was the first part of the question again? Why doesn’t everyone overeat? Ask me the question again, I’m sorry.
[0:13:28] Ashley James: That part of the brain that’s responsible for us to mate, eat, and kill—that very basic instinctive level—why does it want to binge?
[0:13:42] Dr. Glenn Livingston: There are several reasons. It’s a really good question. They all involve the idea that a biological error has been made. The reptilian brain has been made to think and made to really believe that the binge food is like oxygen and it’s required for survival. If you think about where we evolved in the tropics—kind of depends upon your theory of the world, I’ve done a lot of reading on nutrition and the human diet—and I really believe that we were evolved to eat mostly fruit, leafy greens, and an occasional handful of nuts or seeds. That’s what I think we really evolved to. Some people would add wild game in there.
It’s very rare that you see people bingeing on fruit and leafy green vegetables—whole, fresh, ripe for our fruits and leafy green vegetables—very few people binge on that. Most people binge on industrially concentrated foods. A bag of potato chips, or pizza, or pasta, or some concentrated form of starch, or sugar, or fat, or salt, or excitotoxins that wouldn’t be found in nature, is triggering the part of a brain that says, “This is where you can find an ultra-dense source of calories and nutrition,” even though the nutrition isn’t really there.
The brain makes a biological error, and it says, “Well, why would I continue going after fruits and vegetables when there are so many more calories available for so much less effort in such a much smaller space over here.” Then these things are made to be convenient, and they’re packaged up to look like they’re nutritious. One of my classic stories is working with the VP of Marketing for a major food party manufacturer.
They told me that their most profitable insight was to take the vitamins out of the bar and put the money into making the packaging look very diverse and colorful instead because in nature, a shiny diversity of colors would indicate a diversity of nutrition that was available. Think of a salad with purple cabbage, and yellow carrots, and deep green arugula, or spinach, or romaine lettuce, or something like that, and blueberries, and cherries, whatever you want to put in that salad. Those colors are a signal for a diversity of nutrients that are available.
What this guy was telling me was that they actually figured out a way to trigger the part of the brain that responds to that diversity of nutrients but they did it with less nutrients. That happens all over the place. The brain finds the calories. If I see calories and so it says, “There’s got to be something.” It says, “Well, wait a minute. There’s not enough nutrition.” It creates this pleasurable but empty experience. That’s why I say people are looking for love at the bottom of a bag, or a box, or container. You can’t ever really find satisfaction there, but you can find craving that creates more craving that creates more craving. That’s what drug addicts would call chasing the dragon.
You can’t really get to the satiation level and so you just keep craving more and more and more. There’s this loop of confusion. What tends to happen is because the brain has made this biological error and is now going after the wrong stimulus, it’s not actually getting the nutrition that it needs which sets up more craving. Since the brain has now learned that it’s supposed to go after this alternate source of craving, it starts to down-regulate its interest in fruits and vegetables where the real nutrition is. Most people who are struggling with obesity or overeating will say they don’t really love fruits and vegetables.
They know you have to eat more fruit and vegetables to really lose weight but they don’t love them. It’s just a downward cycle. Then the advertising is really strong to support that notion. The addiction treatment industry says that you can’t quit even if you want to. The best you could do is abstain one day at a time, which is not true. People can change their addictive patterns if they want to. It’s nothing more than a very, very, very bad habit that’s in a very, very, very well worn [inaudible 00:18:57]. The experience of addiction is the experience of powerlessness. You really believe that you don’t have a choice, but you do have a choice. That’s what’s going on in our world today.
I’ll give you a very practical solution. You probably find that after you eat your binge food that you’re presently thinking about the next time you’re going to have the binge food and you’re craving shifts more towards that food. If you want to retrain your biology to crave what it’s supposed to crave, if you force yourself to have—assuming there’s no medical reason that you can’t have, there are some people who can’t have greens—but if you throw away half-pound of leafy green vegetables—I like romaine lettuce or sometimes with kale juice—you throw that in the blender with some water and you drink it down like it was a vitamin just like medicine, you’ll find that suddenly you’re craving the binge food less.
The reason for that is you’re showing your survival drive that genuine nutrition is actually available and you’re showing where it’s available. It stops the obsession. It’s another way that you find more peace with food. Part of the philosophy is to intervene and make rules for yourself that would dictate healthy behavior and eliminate decision-making, like we talked about before. The other half of this to figure out, “What is the biological error that my brain isn’t making, and what does my body with authentically need instead?”
That’s why I always say that I got off of chocolate, not just by saying, “I’ll never have chocolate again.” I started out with 90% of the time, but I eventually evolved to never having it again. I didn’t really do it just by saying, “I’ll never have chocolate again.” I also did it by running to a banana kale smoothie whenever I had the chocolate craving.
[0:21:08] Ashley James: Even if people say, “Oh, I hate vegetables,” or, “I don’t like vegetables,” or whatever. You take it like a medicine, suck it up, and throw it in a blender, and drink it fast, or whatever. It’s telling the brain, “Here’s where the good nutrition is,” and then you start getting less and less cravings. Sometimes, people start noticing that they’re craving kale, they’re craving greens, they’re craving oranges, and tomatoes. They just start craving plants because that’s where the majority of our minerals and pretty much all of our vitamins are going to come from. By eating whole plants, we could retrain our brain, but that’s where the nutrition is going to come from. Of course. They have created Frankenfoods that hijack the brain because salt, sugar, and fat all trigger the brain to want more of it. They figured out how to hijack it.
I interviewed a woman—I might have mentioned this before in a previous interview with you—but I interviewed a woman who called herself a food sommelier because she was actually a chemist who for many years worked in the food industry—something like four Doritos, one of those companies. There’s this new flavor of—I’m just going to say Doritos because it’s one of these brands that’s like Pringles or something. Everyone knows this brand—Cheetos—whatever it was.
Her team was responsible for creating new flavors. They did experiments and they were very excited about this. I asked, “Was there any point like an evil like maniacal overlord come down from the CEO office who clearly had a pact with Satan. Like there’s some evil about these companies. They really want to hurt people. Was there ever a time where you felt like there’s this evil agenda?” She said, “No. The scientists geek out on how can we make this food craveable? How can we make this food addictive? How can we make this food trigger the brain even more, hype up the excitement centers of the brain even more? How can we make this food be edible crack?”
They weren’t looking at the ethicacy at all. They were encouraged and they were rewarded for making something fun. They felt like they were making an amusement park for the mouth. This is innocent and it’s very compartmentalized. These scientists work together and they got so excited when they could figure out that the certain chemical makeup—this new chemical makeup, new flavor, new type of oil mixed with some kind of hybridized salt and sugar could trigger us in an even more addictive way. Then the food company gets so excited because they’re making lots of money and people are you know wanting to eat more and more of it. Then the scientists feel like they’ve done the job.
She eventually left that company coming to her wits, coming back to reality, realizing that she was a part of a system that was definitely creating harm in the world when she looked around and realized that one in three people are obese, or have diabetes, and we’re going down the wrong path. She started getting into whole foods and started getting into plants, but she saw that you could then take the same principles as they did in the lab and apply it to eating healthy food. How can I make this kale be so delicious and so healthy? We can. We can do that.
We have to understand that these packaged foods are delicious for a reason. They have scientists who study our brains and figure out how to make us be addicted to it. It’s like the cigarette industry and the alcohol industry. I just feel like maybe 100 or 500 years from now, eventually, they will have the same restrictions, the same warning on packaged food as they do on cigarettes. It’s already happened in California. People are going to get it. We’re going to wake up one day. People have to wake up one day and see that these packaged foods are harming them and they’re trying to hijack that part of our brain that wants to overeat.
It’s our responsibility to be in control of our brains. You give us the tools on how to do that in a very systematic way. One thing I wanted to address is something you brought up in a past interview. It was a really big aha moment for me and for many listeners. You’ve talked about your story and how you have a memory that made you love chocolate or had you associate chocolate with love. Then you spent years and years trying to heal it, and years in therapy, but when you figured out your system for just being in charge of, like you said, the alpha wolf. Just commanding the urges in you and being able to override it and logically have rules set up so that in your mind you control it.
You noticed that it didn’t matter whether you’d healed the past or not because you could stop bingeing without actually having to do the work. Although doing the work is very rewarding and we should all invest on our own personal growth. What I got was that in the brain—let’s say it’s some event that you associate love with chocolate when you’re 5 or whatever—that root cause is still in there with all the work to be done on it. But then you start a habit of eating chocolates—let’s say overeating or binge eating. That habit—although may have originally come from this root cause when you’re five—actually separates from it in your mind and they become two separate things.
So if you heal the root cause—you heal that thing that happened when you were 5—you still have the ingrained habit. So it’d be two separate things. For so many people, we’re told that if only you heal the root cause then you would stop doing these behaviors, but it’s not the case. The hardwired behaviors that we need to override and reprogram ourselves become separate things from their root cause. We should work on both. Let’s first work on gaining control of the system and then doing hours or years of therapy to heal.
[0:28:33] Dr. Glenn Livingston: It’s like if there’s a raging fire in your house the first thing you do is not to say, “Well, who set the fire? How did this fire start?” You don’t want to spend a year figuring out how the fire started. You don’t want to be a detective at that point, you want to be a fireman. You want to put out the fire. Then, if you want to go look and figure out what caused the fire that’s okay. The fire has a life of its own once it’s burning. You need to put out or contain the fire. That makes sense?
[0:29:06] Ashley James: Absolutely.
[0:29:08] Dr. Glenn Livingston: What I wanted to say—which really struck me—was the idea that there’s some evil CEO who’s coming down and saying, “Yes, I will take the blood and tears of all of these people that I’m addicting so I can laugh all the way to the bank.” How it’s not really like that. It’s a byproduct of the capitalist economic system. Winston Churchill once said that capitalism was the worst form of government except for all the others. I don’t know of a better form of government than capitalism, but I do know that it puts the onus on the consumer to be aware of what the motivations of the people on the other side of the transaction are.
Of course, scientists who are getting rewarded for geeking out on how to maximally excite these centers of the brain are going to focus their life energy on doing that. They’re thinking even of themselves as good people. They’re saying, “This is just really fun. Anything in moderation is okay.” Ignoring the fact that they’re making it difficult for anyone to moderate it. What you also need to know is that the market as a whole—consumers in particular—they like good news about their bad habits. They’re asking to be lied to.
They want and they want an excuse to have as many calories in the smallest places possible for the least amount of money possible. They want to be told that it’s healthy. That’s why you could find some potato chip that’s made with avocado oil, and people think that that’s healthy for you. They ignore the fact that every study that’s ever done on heated fats says that it’s carcinogenic. That the acrylamides that were formed by frying the chip are also carcinogenic. That the particular kind of oil—once it’s fried—might clog your arteries anyway.
Say, “Now with avocado oil.” They want to say, “Avocados are healthy. I could do some avocado oil.” It’s very easy to get that by consumers because consumers want to be lied to. Where this leaves us is with the necessity of doing some serious thought for ourselves. An investigation into what’s healthy, what’s not, and then where’s your personal line. Everybody draws a line between live fast and die young—the Hell’s Angels philosophy or I think James Dean said, “Live fast die young and leave a good-looking corpse. Live slow and enjoy the ride.”
Most people will say, “Well I don’t want to be an angel and if I died five years earlier or if I suffer a little at the end of my life because of the choices I make in my 20s then I want to enjoy my 20s more. I think that’s okay. Everybody’s got the right to make that choice, but you need to think through what trade-offs are you making and what role do you want these foods to play in your life? I’m not saying we should never have chocolate. There are a lot of people who can have chocolate on the weekends. My sister can take two little squares out of her purse and say, “I’m going to fold the wrist up for later.” She puts it all back in her purse. I don’t understand how she does it but she does that. God bless her. She likes the trade-off. It works for her.
Certain chocolates are better than other chocolates. There’s dark chocolate, and there’s chocolate with dairy chocolate, without dairy. I’m not a nutritionist, I’m not going to make those arguments. What I’m saying is that you can’t rely on industry and government to protect you from their profit motive that is an industry and government. You really need to think through what role you want these foods to play for yourself. You need to investigate to figure out what the truth really is because the more you investigate, the more surprised you’re going to be at what’s actually healthy versus what you’re being told is healthy.
That’s why I love the brand of your show by the way—Learn True Health. We’re just in a situation where it’s a perfect storm. Part of it is because we’ve really embraced freedom. You really can’t have a free country without the capitalist system. You can’t have it be overly controlled. A byproduct of a capitalist industry is things that are not necessarily good for the populace, they’re desired for the populace. Industry will make whatever’s most desirable, not whatever is healthiest. It’s up to you as the consumer to decide where that healthy line is for yourself.
[0:34:12] Ashley James: We must vote with our fork. There was once a time when there is some weird hormone. There’s four letters like HR something BC or whatever. I can’t remember the name of it right now, but it’s on all the dairy products. It says no such-and-such a hormone. I don’t buy dairy products. I’ve been dairy-free for a long time. If I did buy dairy products I’d probably know this name, but this hormone used to be in all the dairy because they would put it in all the cows. They would basically hop the cows up.
They do give cows other things that are in your milk that are very, very scary, but this one particular hormone was shown to cause negative health results to humans. It was passed on through the milk and then whoever was drinking it or eating the dairy products was getting that hormone. It was making it so they could make more milk. The industry wanted to keep this hormone in, but the consumers didn’t. Now, how do you think us as individual consumers changed the entire dairy industry?
We voted with our fork. The largest a voice in that will surprise you—Walmart. Walmart noticed that their consumers were not buying the dairy products—significantly less sales were going on with the dairy that had the hormone in it. So Walmart was one of the companies that lobbied to only provide the hormone-free—this specific hormone-free dairy. As a result—because we voted with our fork—the companies took notice and they followed the trend.
We have to—as individuals and also—spread this information. We as individuals need to vote with our fork because it does matter because these companies will follow suit. So just to recap, when we have cravings, we can take food—maybe we don’t necessarily like kale. I use kale as an example because some people really hate it. We can take a healthy vegetable and feed it to ourselves even though we don’t like it. We’re adults, we can suck it up for the three minutes we’re tasting the flavor. We can just do it.
[0:36:38] Dr. Glenn Livingston: It can be three seconds in the case of a blender full of romaine lettuce and a little water. You can get a half a pound of romaine lettuce into you in three seconds if you blend it up and drink it down.
[0:36:50] Ashley James: So for the seconds that we’re tasting it what we’re really doing is retraining our neurology to start enjoying or to get that the nutrients are actually coming from over here and then you’ll start to enjoy it more. I had this experience with kale, never really liked kale, and then my friend started making it. So I started trying it because in the last few years it’s been the superfood. Then I started noticing that when I saw kale in the grocery store I’d have a Pavlovian response that I’d actually start salivating. I think about kale, “Oh, I’m going to make a kale boat for lunch,” and then I start salivating.
I noticed that my body was actually getting excited at the thought of having kale. I make this great kale boat where I take Dino kale, which can be like a taco, and then I do some kind of stir-fry sometimes with maybe a handful of cashews, and some beets, and some celery, and some cabbage, and mushrooms and some seasoning like taco seasoning or whatever, and maybe some onions. Just stir fry it up, and then you put it in the kale like it’s a taco, and then you eat it. It’s very crunchy. It has lots of beautiful flavors.
[0:38:03] Dr. Glenn Livingston: I’ll be right over. I’ll be right over.
[0:38:05] Ashley James: It’s so good.
[0:38:06] Dr. Glenn Livingston: I’m on my way.
[0:38:08] Ashley James: Then I just started eating kale raw. I remember not liking it like just detesting that the taste of kale, and now I actually love the taste of kale. I’ve witnessed this. I think I’m picky with a lot of things, and I’ve just noticed that my palate has really changed because I forced myself to just eat it. Because I thought, “Okay, this is a superfood. It’s healthy. I got to get into me.” But then my palate changed. I also cut out the foods that contained the chemical, salt, sugar, oil because I knew about how much they’re hijacking my brain and they weren’t good anyway. I just noticed that over time, my palate changed, and my cravings changed, and my neurology changed. I really had that experience that you’re describing, which is really exciting.
[0:38:59] Dr. Glenn Livingston: Has doing your podcast changed your life? It sounds like doing your podcast changed.
[0:39:03] Ashley James: Yeah. I think I share a lot in the show about my experience of how it has changed, how I’ve evolved. I’ve always been on a road of personal growth. My whole life I’ve been really excited about personal growth. Before the podcast, I healed type-2 diabetes, chronic adrenal fatigue, chronic infections, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and infertility. I did that with natural medicine. That’s why I started the podcast because I healed so many things. We have a healthy five-year-old. I was told by an endocrinologist I would never have kids. I was completely infertile.
We conceived naturally with only natural medicine, with food, and supplements. Supplements being herbs, and vitamins, and minerals, not specific for conceiving but just to create health. To be able to basically go against all these MDs that said I would always be diabetic, I would always have polycystic ovarian syndrome, I would always be infertile that’s what they said. If I believe them and listen to them I would not have our child. I would not be happy. I don’t even know if I’d still be alive.
So using food as medicine and supplements to fill in the gaps when needed, that changed my life so much that I want to start the podcast to help others. I knew that it wasn’t just physical. It had to be emotional and mental because I recognized that I had overeating, and binge eating, and that there was emotional stuff around that, there are other factors. We’re not separated. Our emotional and mental body affect our physical body and vice versa. So we have to just get that true health is about all aspects of our life, and wanting to improve them, and seeking the information to improve them, and being willing to try new things. So every time I interview someone it’s like I’m trying new things and implementing them in my life.
[0:41:13] Dr. Glenn Livingston: I love it.
[0:41:14] Ashley James: Your work has been monumental. You really, really help me. Actually, listeners can check out your podcast because I was on your show. You did your system, like a little taste test of your system.
[0:41:27] Dr. Glenn Livingston: I coached you for a session.
[0:41:29] Ashley James: Yeah, you coach me for a session. You helped me breakthrough something that I felt like I had no control over. In one session—it was very cool. Listeners can hear that. Give a plug, what’s the name of your podcast?
[0:41:47] Dr. Glenn Livingston: You could find that at—just go to neverbingeagain.com and click on the blog and all the podcast episodes are there. If you go to truehealtheating.com and you sign up for the book, you’ll get copies of full-length coaching sessions that I did where you can not only hear me coach Ashley but other people too. It’s all free. That’s over there.
[0:42:11] Ashley James: Cool. So truehealtheating.com and then you sign up for the free book. Then in addition to the free book, you’re getting recordings of these coaching sessions.
[0:42:22] Dr. Glenn Livingston: You get recordings of the coaching sessions, you get free food plans starter templates for every type of dietary philosophy—low carb, high carb, vegan, point counting, calorie counting. We’ll show you sample rules that people use for different dietary philosophies. So truehealtheating.com and sign up. That’s the best thing you can do. Click on the big red button, sign up for the reader bonuses, and you’ll get a free copy of the book, and you’ll get the coaching sessions, and you’ll get all the other goodies.
[0:42:56] Ashley James: Nice. When we had you on the show last—episode 231—so it’s been a while, I can’t believe it. It’s been just under 200 episodes ago. That doesn’t even sound right. I’m friends with Glenn on Facebook since I had him on the show the first time. I guess I just felt like I had interviewed you more recently since I feel like we talk every day through Facebook. By the way, Glenn is a really fun person to follow on Facebook. He’s got probably the best Facebook posts I have out of every single person I’ve ever followed. I’m serious, I’m serious.
Your posts are so fun, and sometimes very insightful, and sometimes very silly, but they’re always really beautiful. So I appreciate that. While everyone is complaining, and griping, and there’s so much drama in the world, you bring such a lightness to it that’s also sometimes very contemplative. It’s light. I definitely encourage people to follow Glenn Livingston on Facebook as well. Since we had you on the show of many moons ago you had just published your second book. You have done a lot since then. Update us, what’s been going on in the world of Glenn Livingston since then?
[0:44:25] Dr. Glenn Livingston: The first book contains everything you need to stop overeating, it really does. Like I said, you can get a free copy of it on the site where we told you. What I found though—after I published the book—there was a great desire for coaching. At first, I started doing the coaching, and then I developed a program, and then I had coaches that were coaching underneath me or with me—it’s more accurate—who I train and supervise. We heard all these very specialty stories like, “I managed to never binge again with everything except for nighttime eating. I can do really well until 10 o’clock at night and then I blow it,” or “I’m really good except when I have my period,” or “I have the hardest time when I’m traveling. I have the hardest time when I’m super, super tired.”
We recognized that there was a need for a book about very specific situational triggers, so we wrote a book called 45 Binge Trigger Busters. That’s probably the most popular alternate book that we’ve written so far, but then we wrote a book on nighttime eating. I say we, I have a business partner. I’m the primary author for most of the books, but he really does help me tremendously. His name is Yoav Ezer. He’s the CEO of my company. I’m old enough and mature enough to know that I don’t make a good CEO. I’m more of a mad scientist, and psychologist, and a marketer.
We wrote a book about nighttime overeating, which has some very specific protocols associated with it that seemed to help. We wrote a workbook for people who either couldn’t afford the coaching program or were more do-it-yourself kind of people. That actually has turned out to be—we just launched it about a month ago. It’s been extremely popular. I had no idea how much even demand there was for a workbook in the market, but we thought through a lot of the exercises we were doing with coaching clients, we put it in there. Whatever books did I write? I wrote my autobiography as it pertains to food called Me, My Pig, and I.
[0:46:46] Ashley James: Oh my gosh, that’s so cute. Did you come up with that one yourself?
[0:46:53] Dr. Glenn Livingston: I came up with that myself, yeah.
[0:46:53] Ashley James: Did you come up with the title before you wrote the book? Did you have an aha moment? I want to know, how did you come up with that one?
[0:47:02] Dr. Glenn Livingston: Jim Carrey has a movie called Me, Myself and I and it happened to be on Netflix or something as I was writing the book. I said, “That’s it. It’s Me, My Pig, and I.”
[0:47:14] Ashley James: Love it. Isn’t it Me, Myself and Irene or something?
[0:47:18] Dr. Glenn Livingston: Is that what it is?
[0:47:19] Ashley James: Something like that, yeah. I think so. I saw it ages ago. But that’s so cute. If they haven’t heard the past episodes, tell us a bit about the pig for those who haven’t heard about it.
[0:47:34] Dr. Glenn Livingston: I went through the whole story in this episode about the difference between loving yourself thin and being an alpha wolf that takes charge. The way that I took charge was I decided to call my reptilian brain my inner pig. This was before I was a vegan or knew anything about the treatment of pigs in the world or anything like that. It was not something I was going to publish. It was going to be a private journal—just my way to overcome my own food problem. I named it my inner pig.
I would make a rule that says, “I’ll never have chocolate Monday to Friday.” Then if I heard a little voice on my head that said, “Come on, Glenn, you worked out hard enough,” even though it’s a Wednesday. “You’re not going to gain any weight, you might as well.” I would say, “That’s not me, that’s my pig. I don’t want chocolate. Chocolate is pig slop during the week. I don’t eat pig slop. I don’t let farm animals tell me what to do. Stop squealing. Go back to your cage.” That’s how I got better.
All the years of sophisticated psychology—for the people that don’t know, I was also a corporate consultant. I was doing these million-dollar projects. I was publishing all these papers. I was on TV and radio. I had all these sophisticated things to say, and I think I’m a compassionate person. I’m joking around a little with you today, but I usually come off as more compassionate. The way that I recover was to say, “I don’t eat pig slop. I don’t let farm animals tell me what to do.” It would wake me up at the moment of impulse, and it would give me this extra microseconds to remember who I was and why I wanted to make that rule in the first place.
It wasn’t a miracle. Sometimes I make the wrong decision anyway, but it eradicated the sense of hopelessness and powerlessness. It eradicated the sense of you failed a thousand times before so you’re going to fail forever. I started to feel like I have the ability to make choices. I made choices and I got better. If you look at my top weight versus about where I am now, it’s about 80 pounds different. My triglycerides went way down and my psoriasis and rosacea went away.
I developed the ability to stick to the plan that I would make for myself. I wouldn’t take anybody else’s diet or rules. I don’t recommend anybody take my diet or rules. I guide people in the principle to autonomously decide what they want to eat and how to stick to it. That’s where the pig comes from. You don’t have to call it a pig. I kind of wish that I didn’t in retrospect.
[0:50:12] Ashley James: No, I think it’s brilliant. I think it’s brilliant. Some people could get confused because they have a different perception of pig. Of course, you’re using the Western stereotype of the pig that just binges, and just can never get enough, can never be satiated. It’s also used as a negative insult, but that for you was a break state. That allowed you to just stop the old pattern long enough to take control.
[0:50:47] Dr. Glenn Livingston: But you can call it your food monster or your food demon. What you don’t want to do, you don’t want to think of it as a wounded inner child or a cute pet. It’s not an alternative part of your personality. You’re not trying to reintegrate this. Most forms of psychology will say, “You need to own your shadow. You need to look at these disowned parts of yourself and recognize that this is part of you and love it also. That way you won’t be so frightened of it and it won’t be able to act out on its own.”
That’s not the solution that worked for me. The solution was to disavow these impulses. To define pig squeal as any thought, feeling, or impulse would suggest that I will ever break my rules between now and the day that I died. By definition a squeal is destructive. Why would I want to identify with those destructive urges?
I cast that out of my identity. I assigned all doubt on uncertainty about my ability to stick with the plan. I got a lot of this from Jack Trimpey, by the way. He wrote a book called Rational Recovery. I had to remodify an awful lot of things to make it work for food. I found that that empowered me to develop a success identity because all of these destructive thoughts were no longer me. They were just neurological junk as Kathryn Hansen says, and I became a different person.
After a while, it was not just white-knuckling it and sticking to rules. It was changing my identity about the kind of person that I was with chocolate, and pasta, and pizza. I didn’t have to think about it after a while. Just like the first couple of months you’re learning how to drive. You’ve got a concentrate on the rules or road, but then after a while, you can daydream, and listen to music, and talk to your friends.
I want to tell you a funny story about the pig. The one place that it’s not good that I really wish it didn’t—people don’t always know my name because the idea of pig, and pig slop, and I don’t eat pig slop, and I don’t let farm animals tell me what to do. That’s so salient that they think of me as, “Oh, he’s that doctor who has a pig inside him.” Once in a while—I used to like to do this if I go on a first date or something—I’ll be in a bookstore and someone will come up to me look start pointing like I’m familiar to them but they don’t know my name. They just go, “Pig guy, pig guy, pig guy.”
[0:53:15] Ashley James: This happened when you’re on a date?
[0:53:17] Dr. Glenn Livingston: Yeah.
[0:53:18] Ashley James: No way. Tell me. Tell me what happened.
[0:53:21] Dr. Glenn Livingston: She thought it was funny and I explained it to her. It’s not really the impression you want to make on your first date.
[0:53:27] Ashley James: Did you guys go out on a second date?
[0:53:29] Dr. Glenn Livingston: No, but I wouldn’t have gone out with her a second time either. I hope she doesn’t hear this.
[0:53:37] Ashley James: It’s all for the greater good. It’ll all work out in the end. I really do believe that there’s some kind of serendipity that happens. The universe sometimes—it all plays out for a reason.
[0:53:54] Dr. Glenn Livingston: She was not an awful person or anything, we just were not a good match.
[0:53:58] Ashley James: Right, right, right. It’s so funny that you’ve been known as the pig guy. Glenn Livingston’s a really easy name to recall—for me at least.
[0:54:09] Dr. Glenn Livingston: Dr. Livingston, I presume.
[0:54:11] Ashley James: Yes. Of course, of course.
[0:54:15] Dr. Glenn Livingston: Something you’ve never said, thank God.
[0:54:17] Ashley James: Dr. Livingston?
[0:54:19] Dr. Glenn Livingston: Dr. Livingston, I presume.
[0:54:21] Ashley James: I presume that’s who you are. Sure.
[0:54:24] Dr. Glenn Livingston: I’m older than you. I’m older than you. There’s a famous story about an explorer that goes to Africa named Dr. Livingston. When his assistant/friend finally finds him he says, “Dr. Livingston, I presume.” Ever since I was a kid there are about eight doctors in the family.
[0:54:46] Ashley James: Oh, people are using that. I have a friend named Forrest and he actually loved the Forrest Gump movie. He grew up with it and everyone used to yell, “Run, Forrest, run.” He thought it was funny. I’m just surprised he didn’t grow up scarred from it.
[0:54:59] Dr. Glenn Livingston: Because by the 47th time someone else says it you think, “No one else ever said that to me before ever.”
[0:55:09] Ashley James: When you talked about your inner pig in our past interviews I actually got the name of my inner thing right away. It just came to me that I have an inner brat. She’s an inner brat.
[0:55:23] Dr. Glenn Livingston: I remember that.
[0:55:25] Ashley James: Right. She wants what she wants when she wants it. She’s like a little nasty five-year-old that is hopped up on sugar. She throws tantrums—little inner brat. When you made that distinction it was like the light went on like, “Oh, okay. I have a little inner brat. I need to tell her, ‘No, we’re not having a second serving of pasta or we’re not going to go through the drive-thru. We’re going to eat kale. You’re going to enjoy a kale smoothie and you’re going to stop nagging me.’” It’s been very clear to me that by putting it in that context—and you said like with the pig.
It’s good to like make it a little bit comical because I feel like it’s part of that break state and part of you getting control back. But like you said, it’s not about reintegrating, it’s not about loving it. It is a part of our brain that wants to kill things, eat things, and sleep with things. The thing is we can’t, like you said, you don’t pee on the street or pee in a meeting. You have control of your body. Good, good, good that you do, but we also don’t run around just having sex in the street or killing people—thank God. I’m knocking on wood here. That we all keep control of these urges, but the one urge that we let go is food because it’s socially acceptable.
If we say that bingeing is that same part of the brain that wants to just mate with everything it’s like, “Okay. Well, I’ve been able to my entire life control the urge to just randomly mate with something in the street or kill someone just because they made me angry. I’ve easily, easily been able to control that and I can figure out how to control that urge to overeat because that’s part of the same mechanism.”
[0:57:24] Dr. Glenn Livingston: It’s just another element of being a civilized person in society.
[0:57:29] Ashley James: Right. Yeah. Tell me more about this not eating at night or this nighttime eating because that’s the thing I’ve been working. I’ve heard people say—guests have said on the show—we only have a certain amount of willpower. I think even you talked about it. By 11:00 PM we have no more willpower left. For me, I’ll eat really healthy during the day, but if I’m staying up past a certain hour I get hungry again and then it’s like the willpower is not there.
[0:58:04] Dr. Glenn Livingston: There’s an eight-part protocol that we came up with after having—we paid some researchers to do an exhaustive secondary research survey, look at all the research that’s been done. Then we did our own research into our own population. We did either surveys, and we talked to everybody. We figured out that there were actually eight things that people were doing who successfully stopped eating after a certain time at night. The first one was they knew the difference between nighttime and daytime. This sounds kind of silly but there was a very clear demarcation point.
If you think about a vampire movie, the characters always know the difference between sundown and the daytime. They know when the sun sets. There’s a variety of activities that they go through. They might put garlic on the door. They might pour salt around the house. They might prepare their secret wooden stake weapons or something like that. They might post a [inaudible 00:59:09] at the door. The heroes in a vampire movie—and the music always changes when the sun is down and the mood of the movie is much different because everyone’s on high alert. There’s a very clear demarcation point and there’s a ritual that people go through in order to punctuate that demarcation point.
We found that the people who were successful, they adopted some type of ritual. It wasn’t necessarily at the same time every day. It could be as soon as dinner was done. Some people will say, “I’ll stop eating at 8:000 every night unless dinner doesn’t start before 7:00,” and then they’re allowed to go a half-hour later or something. There’s a ritual. One of our customers Liv—I have permission to say all this. She claps her hands and she goes, “Dinner and done.” The dishes are away. She goes, “Dinner and done.” Saying that out loud ritualistically moves her from her lower brain to her upper brain. She knows that now she’s got to protect herself from we call it pigula. Pigula whispers at night.
The pig squeals during the day and pigula whispers at night. Pigula is more seductive. Then once you’ve done that ritual, another ritual could be clapping your hand three times as if you’re dusting them off and saying, “Kitchen is closed.” Other people have more physical rituals where they’ll change clothes, or take a shower, or go through a moisturizing routine, or do something to their body—which feels like it’s in a physically different state so they know that they’ve entered the decompression time living night time before bed when you start to let go of the day and wind down to go to sleep.
Those were the most obvious things that people were doing, but then we found that the people who were overeating at night—who stopped overeating at night—most of them had not been breakfast eaters beforehand. Most of them didn’t like to eat until they were 11:00, 12:00, 1:00 in the afternoon. They would say that they just don’t like breakfast, and part of the reason they don’t like breakfast is because they’re eating late at night and they’re too full in the morning. They discovered that they had to move their first meal to earlier in the day and that needed to be more substantial. They couldn’t let their pigula be saving calories for late at night. They needed to keep their blood sugar up in the morning, afternoon, and evening.
That was something that when we work with people, they have to force themselves to do this. It’s something that comes naturally to them, and most of them don’t want to. A matter of fact, a lot of people try to shut me up when I tell them that. A lot of people are very involved with intermittent fasting. I will tell them that—I don’t dispute the medical benefits of intermittent fasting. I think that it’s very valuable in many ways, but I prefer that if someone’s involved with binge eating that they don’t do that for six to twelve months after they recovered from the binge eating.
The reason is I think there’s an evolutionary mechanism in the brain that says, “If calories and nutrition are not available for a period of time when they are available we need to hoard them.” I think that’s the essence of the feast and famine environment that we evolved in. I think that overcoming binge eating involves signaling the body—and the brain in particular—that there’s a regular reliable course of nutrition and calories flowing through at all times. That’s part of why we’re finding the people that overcome nighttime overeating are eating more in the morning. They also have a more satisfying lunch.
We came up with a saying that says, “Add some crunch to your lunch.” Can you put some celery, or carrots, or peppers, or something that makes you feel like you’re actually chewing, and crunching, and getting some of that oral aggression out while you’re eating. I’m actually not joking. It is funny but it feels like a meal. It feels more like a meal. If you’re having a good solid breakfast, and you’re having some crunch with your lunch, by the time you get to dinner, you’re not quite as overwhelmed.
The other thing has to do with self-care. It goes along with the fact that there are only so many good decisions we can make during the course of the day. See, it turns out that your decision-making tank about food is also impacted by your decision-making tank about non-food items.
[1:03:55] Ashley James: How so? That’s very interesting.
[1:03:57] Dr. Glenn Livingston: If I make you do math problems before I offer you a marshmallow, you’re more likely to have the marshmallow than if I didn’t make you do those math problems because I engaged you in thinking and decision-making about the right answer. If you’re spending an awful lot of time doing email during the day, every email is a decision, “Is this spam? Do I delete it? Do I delegate it? Is it critical? Do I have to respond now? Can I defer it?” There’s a lot of brain glucose that gets burned up while you’re figuring out what to do with each email.
If you’re living in an environment where you’re constantly impinged upon for decision making—and those kinds of decisions could involve, “Mommy, who’s taking me to soccer practice? Mommy, are we going to have pizza or hamburgers for dinner tonight?” If you’re constantly impinged upon to make decisions all day long, taking two ten-minute breaks during the day or even two five-minute breaks during the day where you put down your phone, and you turn off your computer, and you walk away from people, and you just breathe, or walk outside for a moment, and get away from all the input. Get away from all the input. Get away. Don’t make any decisions at all for ten minutes twice a day. You can restore the decision-making capability to a certain extent.
It would be better if you can go for a jog. It would be better if you could take a nap. It would be better if you could do something a little longer, but those two 10-minute breaks a day can make a difference. You’ll find that when you get home at night it’s easier. The other thing that people do is since our decision-making capability is worse at the end of the day than the beginning of the day, decide what’s for dinner and prepare it before you leave in the morning. Put it in Tupperware, have it sitting in your refrigerator so that when you get home you can just put it in the microwave and go to town. You don’t have to make any more decisions. You’re eliminating a lot of that willpower draining energy at night that you’re not good at.
[1:06:03] Ashley James: Delete the word microwave, replace with stove because I don’t promote microwaves.
[1:06:15] Dr. Glenn Livingston: I don’t even use the stove. I’m a raw vegan for people that don’t know. I don’t force this on people.
[1:06:24] Ashley James: Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, totally, totally. I was just teasing because you’re like put it in Tupperware. I’m like, not plastic. Put it in a microwave, no microwave.
[1:06:31] Dr. Glenn Livingston: I’m trying to speak in the language of the masses because I don’t want to put up too many barriers for people. I want them to stop bingeing first and foremost because if you stop having 20,000 calories a day and you microwave a bowl of brown rice and peas, I think you’re a lot better off.
[1:06:49] Ashley James: Yes.
[1:06:52] Dr. Glenn Livingston: But I agree with you, Ashley. Look, my ideal is that I eat fruit and leafy green vegetables. I actually have a dehydrator on top of my stove because I don’t use the stove. I don’t understand why people think that the byproducts of fire are good for us in any way, shape, or form. Didn’t we learn our lessons with cigarettes? It’s a whole different story, right? No microwaves, no stoves. If you were to come live with me for a month you’re going to be shocked.
[1:07:21] Ashley James: Oh my gosh. I think I’d love it. If you do all the food prep I think I’d love it. I was raw vegan for six days and it was great. I did it during the summer. Easy to find all the fresh produce, but I got bored with eating the same food over and over again. I got bored. So day seven I’m like, “Oh, man. If I have to eat another zucchini noodle bowl with marinara,” which was so delicious. I think I just figured out how to make one good dish and it was delicious. My husband was like, “I could eat this way the rest of my life,” but I don’t know if I’m cut out to do raw vegan but I definitely eat raw sometimes.
[1:08:04] Dr. Glenn Livingston: I don’t push that at all. I work with people on all sorts of diets.
[1:08:07] Ashley James: No, no, you don’t. You don’t. It’s interesting that some people find liberation in restriction. Back when I lived in Toronto, I was friends with a woman. I could see her face. I think her name was Jen—beautiful, wonderful woman. I was a teenager and she was in her 20s. We were taking a leadership program through Landmark Education where we had to meet once a month on the weekends. We met weekly on Tuesday nights. Saturday—for those of the Jewish faith—is the day of rest where you’re not supposed to do anything. You’re not supposed to carry anything but the Bible. You’re not supposed to drive a car, turn on a light switch, and she was transitioning to Orthodox.
She was going to marry an Orthodox Jewish man, and she was transitioning to Orthodox. She said, “I want to attend on Saturday but I have to walk if I want to go.” She lived on the other side of Toronto—the other side. I volunteered to walk with her. I got to her house before the sun rose, and we walked clear across all of Toronto and got there in time for our course. The whole time we talked about this because I was really fascinated. She was a dancer. She had long hair. She was very free and why was she going to choose to be in a relationship with a man where she had to shave her head, make a wig out of her own hair, never allow anyone to see her hair again, never dance with people other than women, never show any skin beyond the wrists or something like. Just the restriction after restriction.
Why was she happy and excited? Beyond the fact that she was in love with this man. She was actually excited to become an Orthodox Jew. She explained to me in our very long walk that in the amount of restriction—she was raised in a setting where she had no restrictions, and she was loose, and could do whatever—she found that she just ended up not really liking herself. But with these restrictions in her faith, it actually gave her more room to be who she was. She actually found more comfort in the rules that she decided to take on.
That twisted my mind because I always thought that freedom and no restrictions were the ultimate way to live, but people—in certain circumstances—find that restrictions forced them to become more creative, and more self-expressed, and feel more comfortable, and at ease. Your example is your system, you create rules around your food. That ends up giving you more freedom. It’s like restriction could equal freedom in a sense. It’s really neat.
[1:11:21] Dr. Glenn Livingston: I don’t think of it as restriction necessarily but you could. I’ve got a lot to say about this. Can I talk for a moment or two?
[1:11:28] Ashley James: Absolutely. Please do.
[1:11:30] Dr. Glenn Livingston: First of all, I believe that freedom sits on top of discipline, it’s not opposed to it. It’s only because of the discipline of the engineers who put together my car that when I turn the wheel 30 degrees to the right and I press on the gas pedal that it goes in that direction. I can open up my radius of locomotion and travel all over the city. It’s only because of the discipline of the city planners who put stoplights in the most dangerous intersections and yield signs in the ones that weren’t so dangerous. They organized it and really looked at the whole city in the way that was laid out that I can freely move about. It’s only because of my discipline, and having learned the rules of the road, and abiding by them that I can go about the day and do all that.
Anybody who’s more than 16 years old knows the tremendous freedom that comes once you learn how to drive, but there’s a discipline you have to develop first. It’s only because—I’m a jazz musician—I studied the scales exhaustively and I know the structure of music that I can improvise outside of them and express my soul. Jim Rohn said, “A life of discipline is much better than a life of regret.” What I think is that either you’re going to be free or your pig is going to be free. Either you’re going to be the master or the pig is going to be the master.
I want to be the master of my fate. In order to do that. I’ve got to accept the adult responsibility of controlling my impulses with discipline. It’s a fact of life and I think that people are confused about freedom versus discipline. They think that they’re giving something up. My pig could say, “You can’t give up chocolate, that’s way too boring. You can’t live without that stimulation and pleasure.” By giving up chocolate, I have largely lived free of any major health concern. I am 80 pounds thinner than I used to be. I could walk on the world as a thin, confident, healthy, handsome man, and be a leader in my field. I can hike a mountain a lot quicker, which means I get to spend more time on top enjoying the sunset, or the fresh air, or the view, or feeling the bit of hike a tall mountain was the feeling of owning the mountain when you get to the top.
It’s only because of all those disciplines that I thought I can do that. If I continue to eat chocolate, then I would be depriving myself of all of those things. It’s never really that we are depriving ourselves of pleasure. It’s a question of which pleasure are we depriving ourselves of, and have we made a fully informed choice? Well, because the pig will concentrate you on, will focus you on the short-term pleasure that you’re giving up. But that’s not all there is. There’s long term pleasure too.
[1:14:46] Ashley James: Instant gratification.
[1:14:48] Dr. Glenn Livingston: Right. Maturity involves recognizing that sometimes we sacrifice short-term pleasures to pursue longer-term pleasures. Sometimes we give up the roller coaster of highs and lows for more of a contented life. That’s the difference between going to an amusement park, and having these adrenaline rushes, and then having to wait in long lines between them versus floating down the river in a kayak, and enjoying the fresh air, and watching the breeze float the willows back and forth. As we get older and we mature, we usually opt for more of the contented sustainable pleasures in life rather than the fleeting pleasures that burn us out quickly.
We move more from the live fast and die young end of the continuum to the live slow and enjoy the ride, which is necessary when you get older because there were fewer years left, right? So you want to make them last as long as you can. The last thing I want to say, Ashley, about that is that your pig will tell you that boredom is intolerable. We live in a world of excessive stimulation. Go count the number of scene changes on any television show or movie. How many bombs, and naked women, or scantily clad women, or car chases, or fireworks are you seeing when you are looking at a coming attraction?
We’re led to believe that we need this constant input and constant overstimulation of our senses. The natural experience when you let go of that is the experience of boredom. When you experience life the way that it is meant to be, it seems boring because you don’t have all that stimulation. There’s just you, and there’s nature, and there’s other people, right? It takes a while for your nervous system to adjust to that. There’s a phenomenon called down-regulation, which means if you overstimulate the nervous system in some way you will stop responding.
If you live underneath the subway, after a couple of weeks you don’t hear the trains going by anymore, you sleep like a baby because your nervous system has been overstimulated and it doesn’t respond to that noise anymore. If you have a chocolate bar every day, you stop enjoying the taste of it as much as you did when you first started, you don’t get the same level of pleasure, and you certainly don’t get this pleasure from an apple like you used to. Thankfully that process reverses itself in a phenomenon called upregulation.
If you stop having sugar, for example, then within six to eight weeks your taste buds double in sensitivity, and your neurological system starts to produce the dopamine that it used to in response to apples, and produce, and that kind of stuff. The upshot of this is that the experience of becoming unaddicted from food is always the experience of going through boredom. On the other side of that are two things. First of all, there is the enjoyment of the way that life actually is. There’s a calming of the nervous system. There’s a satisfaction, and contentment, and peace that comes into your being.
We started this whole conversation by saying this woman has found peace at dinner when she never had that before. That’s on the other side of boredom, not that far away. Maybe six to eight weeks you start to feel that, but on the other side of that is your life purpose. See, when you’re not distracted by the overstimulation, then your libido—your life’s energy—can start to go into what’s really important to you. You’ll start to want to take on some other project.
Maybe that just means spending more time rolling around on the floor with your kids. Maybe it means tidying up the house. Maybe it means applying for a promotion. Maybe it means volunteering. I don’t know. For one way or another, you’re going to find yourself inspired to channel the pleasure-seeking energy that you used to channel into excessive taste stimulation. You’re going to channel it into things that feel very worthwhile to you. When you do that, pig slop looks pathetic. It’s much less interesting in contrast. So your pig doesn’t want you to get there so it says, “This is way too boring.”
Now the truth is, I don’t mean to push you to be a raw vegan. I don’t have any need for you to do that, but the people that do it successfully, they spend a lot of time researching at first—different ways to stimulate the senses with raw vegan things. There are all types of recipes. You can make where I’m eating pizza. You can make raw vegan mac and cheese. There are all kinds of things that you can do and they’re pretty darn good if you put the time, and energy, and you got the equipment to do it.
Over time, even that starts to seem too stimulating, and you gravitate towards what most people would think are very boring meals. More days than not, I have bananas and romaine lettuce for breakfast and lunch. More days than not. Then I’ll make myself some kind of special salad at dinner. I’m not bored at all with it. I really look forward to it. I don’t really want the excessive stimulation because then I spend more time thinking about food. Over the years, I’ve gotten so much more excited about all these other things that it doesn’t seem natural to me to find all my pleasure from food anymore.
I feel like I spent 30 years looking for all my pleasure in food. I want to spend the balance of my life making a difference and putting my energy someplace else, which is not to say I don’t get pleasure from food anymore, I do, but it’s not the same. I don’t have the same proportion of my libido dedicated to the food pleasure as I used to. Does that make sense?
[1:20:51] Ashley James: Absolutely. Everything you said, I was thinking about we’re all going through COVID-19 right now. This is what’s happening now, although people listen to these episodes even years after we record them because they’re still relevant information. At the moment, the whole world. I was just listening to Al Jazeera. I find listening to foreign news even more interesting than our news because you get like just a little bit of a different spin sometimes. There’s Artie. I like listening to many different news outlets and just seeing the different opinions, but there are countries that are shutting down in Africa.
There are several countries shutting down cities—completely shut down. There are some cities that made it illegal to travel. It’s just the crackdown is happening more and more. I’ve lived just outside of Seattle with my family so we’ve been in quarantine and only leave the house—well, we get out in nature go, go for walks. Even now, the governor of Washington is starting to say—he was saying like a week ago, “You can still go for a bike ride. You can still go for a walk.” A few days ago he said, “Don’t leave your house no matter what even if it’s just for essentials.” Now he’s saying don’t even go outside to walk your dog. It’s just getting to the point where people are people are stir-crazy.
Luckily we live in a house, but if I was living back in our old apartment, man I would be going nuts. I had no room in that apartment. I’m feeling, I’m feeling for the people who don’t have a yard to walk in. At least I can go in the backyard and garden. I can get in the sun. Our kid can run around.
[1:22:36] Dr. Glenn Livingston: Can you imagine what prisoners feel like?
[1:22:39] Ashley James: Yeah, exactly. Or what animals that we put in the zoo. I’m thinking about people or animals who are always held captive. We are all going through that. We’re all affected by COVID-19 in one way or another, but I’ve noticed in the last week my eating habits shifted because I’m home more. I found myself eating because I’m bored. I’m not doing anything because normally, we’re always out and doing stuff.
[1:23:18] Dr. Glenn Livingston: You’re sinking the input.
[1:23:19] Ashley James: Then I just noticed I was walking around the house because I had to move around. I always end up—the kitchen is in the center of the house and I’m like, “Oh what’s in the fridge.” Look in the fridge for the 50th time today, “Oh, look in all the drawers. Oh, yeah. Okay, all the avocados are still there. What should I make for dinner? What should I make now? It’s 4:00 PM, too early for dinner. What can I eat now?” It was just food becomes an event because there’s nothing else to do.
I watched this happen because I like becoming the observer, and watching the behavior, and then going, “Ah, isn’t this interesting? This doesn’t need to control me but I can observe it.” Then that’s when it hit me, “Oh, good. We’re interviewing Glenn in a few days. We get to talk about this because I bet a lot of people have noticed bingeing or that justification. That little voice that wants to mate, and eat, and kill is getting a lot more attention now because we’re stuck at home.
[1:24:19] Dr. Glenn Livingston: Our business is actually up a little bit.
[1:24:21] Ashley James: I thought so.
[1:24:24] Dr. Glenn Livingston: I feel guilty about it because everybody is suffering. I’m working super hard. I’m working to help people. I don’t take much money out of the business.
[1:24:35] Ashley James: Glenn, Glenn, you have such a kind heart. Who else would feel guilty? You are helping people. Just think of the woman listener who said that through tears in her eyes that, “I have peace now. For the first time ever I ate dinner without anxiety and I have peace.” The money that you and your company make is a reflection of how many people you’re helping, you’re touching lives. Your book—although you give it for free—is the number one bestseller on Amazon. There are tons of fantastic reviews. Thousands and thousands of people have been helped.
[1:25:13] Dr. Glenn Livingston: We just crossed 4000 reviews today.
[1:25:17] Ashley James: That’s amazing. Congratulations.
[1:25:20] Dr. Glenn Livingston: That was the neurotic Jewish person in me, feeling guilty about making money and stuff.
[1:25:28] Ashley James: No, no, no. It’s so human. I’ve been looking around at these companies that are blatantly making a profit off of people suffering and the COVID-19 crisis. I’m in a lot of Facebook groups, but I’m in a marketing Facebook group and someone said, “Okay, covidpreneurs out there. What are you doing to turn a fast buck in this?” Because of this situation. I got angry. I said to myself, “I don’t want to make money off of anyone because of this.”
[1:26:06] Dr. Glenn Livingston: The truth is, it’s actually more unethical for me not to make money because I have to support a bunch of people in the company. We have to keep expanding the advertising. The banker doesn’t tell me at the end of the month, “Gee Glenn, you’re a really good person. You’re helping all these people. You don’t have to put your mortgage.” I wish they would.
[1:26:30] Ashley James: In your situation, your money means you’re helping people. There’s a direct correlation. Right now, people are stuck at home. They’re suffering and they’re seeking an answer.
[1:26:41] Dr. Glenn Livingston: It’s a good time to get a coach. It’s a good time to buy some of these books and look into it.
[1:26:46] Ashley James: Glenn, it has been such a pleasure having you on the show again as always. You can come back any time. Every time you publish six books just come back on.
[1:26:57] Dr. Glenn Livingston: I think I’m out for a while. I have those six books in me because we’ve done thousands of coaching sessions. I knew what all the issues were and we developed the answers. I not only do this myself, but I work in concert with these four other coaches plus my business partner, Yoav. They’re always coming up with insights, always looking at situations, and so I had all these answers in me from all the specialty situations. Never Binge Again was a book that really took me eight years to write because I did eight years of journaling before I turned it into a book. If you looked at it, it was only a month in the actual writing but it was eight years in development. It’s kind of the same thing for these six books. There were about four years and thousands of sessions in development, and I think that I’m out. I think I have to see another few thousand people before I come up with more.
[1:27:48] Ashley James: Very cool. You’re welcome back on the show any time. If a listener wants to work with you or wants to join your coaching program and become a coach, should they just go to truehealtheating.com and get the information there?
[1:28:00] Dr. Glenn Livingston: Everything starts at truehealtheating.com, sign up for the reader bonuses, and you’ll be led to the podcast, you’ll be led to the coaching program, you’ll be led to the Facebook forum, you’ll be led to the free copies of the book, and Kindle, Nook, or PDF format. If you want the physical copies, you can get them. There is a charge for those. Yeah, truehealtheating.com.
[1:28:21] Ashley James: Awesome. Thank you so much, Dr. Glenn Livingston, I presume. It’s been a pleasure. Stay safe. Stay healthy, everyone. Thank you so much for your beautiful episode. I just know this is going to help a lot of people.
[1:28:35] Dr. Glenn Livingston: Thank you, dear. It went by quickly. Thanks.
Rational Recovery by Jack Trimpey