Health Podcast Post

Emotional Hunger with Dr. Adrienne Youdim

George Grombacher February 8, 2023

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Emotional Hunger with Dr. Adrienne Youdim

LifeBlood: We talked about emotional hunger, how weight loss is a simple but difficult process, how unmet needs in our lives leads to overeating, the role of hormones, and the way forward with Dr. Adrienne Youdim, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, Founder and CEO of Dehl Nutrition, and author. 

Listen to learn why you already know everything you need to lose weight!

Check out Adrienne’s recent TED Talk!

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

Adrienne Youdim

Dr. Adrienne Youdim

Episode Transcript

Unknown Speaker 0:00

george grombacher 0:15
this is George G. And the time is right, welcome today’s guests drop off with Dr. Adrian UDM. Dr. Adrian, are you ready to do this? I’m so ready. Let’s do it. Let’s go. Dr. Adrienne is an associate clinical professor of medicine at Cedars Sinai Medical Center. She’s the founder and CEO of Dell nutrition. She’s the author of hungry for more and the host of the health byte podcast. Adrian, excited to have you on tell us a little about your personal lives more about your work and why you do what you do.

Dr. Adrienne Youdim 0:47
I’m excited to be here. And, sure. So I am, I am first a mother to three.

I am a wife, a daughter, a podcaster, and entrepreneur and a physician. And so I wear many hats, all of which I think really are underneath this umbrella of

of using simple tools to live well. I think there are so many tools at our disposal that are easy, not sexy or expensive. But that we can really employ to level up our lives and to live better. We talked about before the recording kind of the similarities between how we deal with food and how we deal with money. Right. And so I think the simple tools really underlie whatever the goal may be financial freedom, emotional freedom, addressing you know, our relationship with food, our relationship with others, these simple tools really get to the heart at our heart of what we really want for ourselves.

george grombacher 2:00
I appreciate that. And one of my favorite did not my saying, I heard somebody say years ago, they said it sounds easy, but does hard. And I think diet exercise and being physically healthy, sounds really easy. It’s really hard to do and being good with money is pretty basic, but really, really, really hard to do.

Unknown Speaker 2:24
What is uncovering your true hunger? Yeah, absolutely. Well said, I actually just did a TED talk a few months ago, where I mentioned, my like punch line was,

Unknown Speaker 2:37
it’s really simple. But it’s really hard.

Unknown Speaker 2:42
And so to that, to answer your question of understanding your hunger,

Unknown Speaker 2:48
you know, we have we experience hunger, usually physically, right. And that makes sense. It’s very straightforward if physical hunger to nourish ourselves or for nutrition, and we experienced that in our bodies with hunger pangs, and that is mediated by a bunch of hormones that kind of dictate our hunger.

Unknown Speaker 3:09
What’s interesting, and what I’ve learned in my work,

Unknown Speaker 3:13
you know, in being a very, I call it doctor, a doctor, you know, white coat doctor, there was always this other hunger, this kind of underlying hunger that I was experiencing and appreciating in the room. And as a doctor, a doctor, I felt like it was not my place to call out, you know, that hunger, Hey, your your job sucks. You’re in an emotionally draining relationship. You’re not feeling connected. But in fact, the science shows that those difficult emotions that stem from our basic needs being unmet, our basic psychological needs being unmet, resulting in difficult emotion, literally hijack our hunger hormones. So even if you want to be super doctor and scientific about it, when you’re feeling sad, disconnected, lonely, it elicits a hormone of hormonal reaction that makes you feel physically hungry for food. Like you’re not hungry for food, right? And how often even those of us who are in this space who are super aware, have found ourselves rummaging in the pantry. And you’re like, What the hell am I doing here? I just ate 30 minutes ago. We’ve all done it, George, for sure.

Unknown Speaker 4:35
But I think it’s important to say that there is a scientific basis to that because we attribute a lot of shame around it. And I think when we know that it’s our body’s kind of habitual response, then it takes away the shame. And then once you get that out of the way you can deal with what’s at hand, which is that there is an unmet need that is triggering them.

Unknown Speaker 5:00
emotion that is beckoning us that is calling out for our attention. Now, to your point of simple but hard. It’s not like when you have that cheat bag of Cheetos in your hand. It’s saying, oh my god, you know, you’ve been in this marriage for 20 years, and you haven’t nourish it, and therefore, it’s it’s not fulfilling, or your job is not fulfilled, or whatever the case may be. It requires pause. It requires us getting out of that automated response to sit back and say, Man, I’m not hungry. I was in the kitchen 30 minutes ago. So what is this? What Am I really hungry for? And in my book, hungry for more, I talk about the stories and the science of how do you identify these underlying hungers, and they are simple, but they’re also really challenging and emotional. And quite frankly, we shy away often from those difficult emotions. But in doing this, I’m hoping to give people permission to lean into that feeling and use it as an opportunity to live well.

Unknown Speaker 6:14
Well, I think that that is super powerful, right there. And it’s, it’s interesting, first and foremost, that having that when our basic needs aren’t met, it’s an actual hormonal response that says, go eat something, you are hungry, even though I just I just ate and I know that I’m not actually hungry, but that I’m being hijacked. And if then my pattern is to just go through that and go and eat something and I do that, well, that’s going to cause me to then gain weight. And that’s then is that fair to say? It’s just, it becomes sort of a coping mechanism. And it’s a codependent relationship that I have with food.

Unknown Speaker 6:56
It becomes a habit, like, let’s just simplify it, right? Because I get I I’m very careful not to. I’m not a therapist. So I don’t want to like diagnose people or use words that sounds, you know, diagnosing. I also, you know, want to be careful not to pathologize people, I feel like on one hand, we like to know that we have, there’s a name for what we’re doing. Because then it’s again, validating. But then I think sometimes it’s physicians and mental health professionals. We put labels on people, and then people are like, Well, shit, I’m a bla bla bla, which condemns me to a life of blah, blah, blah. So what I’m saying is that this is a normal, physiologic response. Some people have it to a greater degree, some people have it to a lesser degree, if we if we lean into it and do it regularly. Well, now we develop this cyclical pattern in our brain, that trigger right triggers the anxiety, uncertainty, sadness, loneliness, irritation, sleep deprivation actually causes the same changes in hunger hormones. So it doesn’t have to be necessarily an existential crisis. It can just be Netflix. No, but trigger, trigger results in discomfort. And then we scan our brain. Hey, what do I do to get rid of that discomfort? Oh, yeah, I have a glass of wine every night or? Oh, yeah, I have, you know, that. spoonful of Nutella. Nutella is always in my pantry. So I like to joke about that. Or, you know, whatever, a spoon of ice cream, right? And if you do it enough times that your brain is like, Duh, I don’t have to think about this. I just, it’s automated. I know what makes me feel good is the ice cream. And yes, it feels good. Right. And so I want to also if you don’t mind address this like counterculture, or like almost canceled culture against weight loss that has developed this whole culture of like, it feels good. Why are we denying ourselves? Why are we repressing what feels good? And I’m all about not being overly restrictive, right? I’m not saying like, like I said, that Nutella is in my pantry, eat the Nutella. What I’m saying though, is that when we give in to that feeling, that immediate feeling thing that gives us a good feeling. We’re really doing ourselves a disservice not only because we’re gaining weight, or because we’re becoming maybe habitual consumers of alcohol or tobacco or whatever. But it doesn’t even scratch the itch. Right? It doesn’t even it’s a bandaid. It doesn’t even scratch the itch, which is why we go back again and again and again. And now you’re in front of the refrigerator for the fifth time, because it didn’t address the underlying issue, which was you’re really feeling lonely right now. Right? So

Unknown Speaker 9:57
if we can pause and we can try

Unknown Speaker 10:00
try and uncover what the underlying feeling in and get out of that automated response, which does become this, I guess dependency on food to use your words, then yes, we can break that codependency, that’s what we’re going to call it. But more importantly, where we are now giving ourselves the opportunity, we’re taking the invitation of figuring out what the hell is it that we’re so hungry for, to begin with? And that, that is where the power is, that is where the magic is.

Unknown Speaker 10:35
Good, that makes all sense of the world.

Unknown Speaker 10:38

Unknown Speaker 10:41
do I need to, to go down that path to go into the basement? And or whatever? Do I need to discover why it is that I’m not happy?

Unknown Speaker 10:52
or and or can I simply recognize when I’m feeling this way I eat and then replace it with? I go for a walk?

Unknown Speaker 11:02
Right? Great question. So you know you, you’ve interviewed a lot of people, and I think you’re probably very grounded in this work personally, from what I’m gathering, these things come in layers, right? Like you have an aha moment. And then five days later, another aha moment. And then five years later, you’re like, Well, I’ve known this for five years. But wow, I just had an aha moment. So there’s different layers, to the complexity of our experiences. I think we’re meet yourself where you’re at, right? I think if you can just wherever you can meet yourself, and give yourself the opportunity for that awareness. Yes, just having that awareness is a big step. It’s not just it’s a big step, right. But then there are layers. And it’s funny because I’m, you know, part time still a practicing physician in in my my medical practice in Beverly Hills. And like, I had someone who’s came to mind yesterday, who was like, I have two kids, I’m, I’m working, you know, my parents are sick, I don’t have time. And like, I get it, I was there myself, you know, I don’t have time to deal with it. Just tell me what to do. Just give me the you know, the upshot.

Unknown Speaker 12:22
But this is what happens. You can dismiss it for a certain period of time. What I find though, is that the thing comes up, and it says, Who Who, George, I’m trying to get your attention. You’re like, No, damn it, I don’t want to listen to you. So you push it aside, then it comes back, you know, in another form, hello, remember me, I’m trying to get your attention. And so if people notice, it’ll come back. And it might, it’ll get to a point where it like, smacks you across the face. And it’s like damage. George, I need you to listen. And this may be an emotional, you know, distress. It may be a physical distress, you know, people who have chronic abdominal pain, headaches. I even had a patient who had tinnitus or ringing in the ears, we did all the workup for organic causes couldn’t figure out what was going on. It was this hunger that was trying to make itself known. So the answer is, yes, do whatever you can do, but recognize that if something is calling for your attention, it’s going to try and get it. So it you know, behooves us to give us the time and attention that it requires.

Unknown Speaker 13:33
Yeah, that makes sense. It’s, it’s the work and just engage in it.

Unknown Speaker 13:41

Unknown Speaker 13:42
and we didn’t used to be so obese. But we’ve you know, it strikes me that we’ve always struggled with stuff, my place in the world.

Unknown Speaker 13:55
Right. So nobody likes that word. But it is a clinical term, the degree that that addresses or refers to a degree of excess weight that we believe is harmful, about 30 pounds ish, depending on your height. I don’t want to get into the BMI. No one likes the BMI. There’s limitations, but suffice it to say that a certain degree of excess weight puts you at risk for high blood pressure, cholesterol, infertility, a bunch of stuff cancer. So, back in the 80s, the CDC started to collect data, and less than 10% of the population in any given state had this degree of excess weight. Fast forward 40 years and

Unknown Speaker 14:39
over 40% of Americans are considered to have obesity, about 10% are considered to have what we call morbid obesity, which represents about 100 pounds of excess weight and over two thirds of the population is considered to be overweight or obese. So not necessarily

Unknown Speaker 15:00
are harmful overweight, but getting there above what they should be.

Unknown Speaker 15:07
There’s a lot of reasons for that.

Unknown Speaker 15:10
It’s political, its social, its societal, its emotional, its psychological. Its spiritual.

Unknown Speaker 15:20
It’s a lot of things, you know.

Unknown Speaker 15:24
But again, I hate to be, I hate to be pessimistic, because there are so many things that we can do. And it’s not just eating celery sticks all day long.

Unknown Speaker 15:36
A great one I like to share with people is sleep. You know, sleep deprivation is engineered into our lives. We used to say you can sleep when you’re dead. That’s what I’m going to put us in the same generational category. I’m thinking that’s what like our parents taught us, right? These days. You know, my teens will say, I can sleep when my Netflix shows over. So there’s other competing priorities, right. But the bottom line is we’re not getting adequate sleep. This study show that even two nights of sleep deprivation, increased increases hunger hormones. So when they put people in a sleep lab, don’t let them sleep or let them sleep only five hours check their blood the next morning, hunger hormones go up by almost 30%. And then when they survey them, like what are you hungry for? They’re hungry for highly palatable foods. So I would say like when I was an undergrad, doing pulling all nighters, and I would walk into the coffee shop, and I’d be like, I need a doughnut. That was my hunger hormones for you. It wasn’t me, it was my hormones. But really, you’re not hungry for broccoli. When you’re sleep deprived, you’re hungry for like chips and doughnuts. So that’s an easy one, right? Like, get sleep, make it a priority in your life. I know there’s other things to do. But there’s a reason why we sleep. It’s not just you know, being dead, there’s actually many metabolic functions that are happening when you’re asleep. And when you don’t do them, you put yourself at risk for obesity, and other things like dementia and insulin resistance and diabetes. So I always like to see where people are at and give them to dues that they are amenable to. So again, I over talk, George, I can’t help myself, I’m a Pisces. But your question was, why are we at this point, and there’s so many reasons, but there’s also simple ways that we can take back our power and rein it in.

Unknown Speaker 17:44
I love that. On the website, you say that you have everything you need right now.

Unknown Speaker 17:50

Unknown Speaker 17:52
like so many other parts of our life, like personal finance, and whatever it is, there’s just mountains of complexity and people saying it’s this way and it’s this diet or it’s, you know, got to do it this way, and everything else is garbage or crap, but it’s not the answer is pretty simple. And we already know

Unknown Speaker 18:14
you know, I, I literally just got off of another podcast, where the person uses the word biohacking. And like, when I hear that word, I just, I just cringe like, I just want to like, tear every single hair out. Right, because what the hell is biohacking? Right? I mean, okay, I understand that some people like the sexy terminology, it’s motivating, but it’s like let’s demystify, and not make it more complicated. Right. biohacking basically means giving yourself the fuel that you need to nourish yourself properly. Whether that’s sleep, movement, nature, adequate nutrients with good wholesome food, it doesn’t have to be you buy a special kind of coconut oil, that you ruin a perfectly good cup of coffee with, so that you can biohack why, why do they do that? George? It drives me nuts. But yeah, it doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s difficult to your point. Just because it’s simple doesn’t mean that it’s not hard. And that’s important to say, because if people have expectation that it’s going to be easy, then they’re more likely to give up. No, it’s not easy, but it is conceptually simple.

Unknown Speaker 19:33
That makes sense. So when somebody picks up a copy of hungry for more, what what can they expect? What what are you hoping that that that they get out of reading it? You know, like you said earlier, we were met, there’s a lot of things that I do I have products I have, you know,

Unknown Speaker 19:51
but This to me is like my love letter to the world. I feel like it’s such an important read, because I basically call

Unknown Speaker 20:00
Up to 20 years of patient stories, and personal stories, I put them all in there. So if you were to read the book, you would know more about me than you ever wanted to know. But I do that on purpose because I feel like I in my role and the benefactor of all these stories, and I’ve had the good fortune of being like, oh my god, there’s a pattern here, and normally a pattern in my patients, but I can commiserate, I can relate to so many of these hungers. And so I offer people stories that they can find themselves in, no matter who they are. I had a 30 year old African American middleweight boxer who was training me who read my book and said, Oh, my God, I cried the whole time. So it’s like, here’s my demographic of an overweight individual coming to see me for weight loss. It tells me that these stories are universal. So the book is, you will find your story in there. And then hopefully find, be empowered. And then find the tools in order to identify your hunger and to live more aligned with your true selves.

Unknown Speaker 21:19
I love it.

Unknown Speaker 21:21
Well, Dr. Adrian, thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you? Where can they where can they find all things? Dr. Adrienne? Well, I am on Instagram. Most days Dr. Adrian you deem and if people go there, they can see my musings. But there are also links to my website newsletter book podcast, so they can explore if there’s anything else of interest or value. Awesome. Well, if you enjoyed as much as I did show Dr. Adrienne your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas. Find her on Instagram at Dr. Adrienne you deem a d r i e nn, e y o u di m. And I’ll certainly link that in the notes of the show along with all the different places that you can find her as well as where you can get a copy of your copy of hungry for more, and the podcast and everything else. So thanks again, Adrian. Thanks, George. And until next time, remember, do your part by doing your best

Transcribed by

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