Beating food addictions | Dr Jud Brewer

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Episode #316. Overeating is not your fault. But it is in your control – just not in the way you might think. Food addiction, or feeling out of control when it comes to making food choices, is a common experience that many of us will face at some point in our lives. The good news is, you’re not just “undisciplined” – you’re working hard against a system that was not built for your success. Learn how to reclaim your agency over food in Episode #316 with psychiatrist, neuroscientist, and self-mastery expert, Dr Jud Brewer.

“Awareness is that key ingredient for any type of habit change.”

Dr Jud Brewer, a New York Times best-selling author and internationally recognised expert in habit change and mindfulness, is the Director of Research and Innovation at the Mindfulness Centre and a professor at Brown University. With over 25 years of experience, Dr Brewer has developed innovative mindfulness programs for treating smoking, emotional eating, and anxiety, including app-based solutions. His work, funded by prominent institutions and featured in major media outlets, explores the neural mechanisms of mindfulness using advanced neurofeedback techniques. Dr Brewer is also the founder of MindSciences, now part of Sharecare Inc., and the author of The Craving MindUnwinding Anxiety, and The Hunger Habit.

“Food is not going to fix an emotion, it’s just going to distract us momentarily and feed the habit of eating when we have a strong emotion.”

Learn Dr Brewer’s secret to gaining control over your eating habits (and no, it’s not willpower). Discover why we overeat, the reason you can’t break bad habits, and how to take back your power over food as we unpack the science of behavioural change.

Specifically, we discuss:

  • Introduction: Understanding the Brain and Habit Formation (00:13)
  • Key Elements of Habit Formation (02:55)
  • The Brain’s Role in Decision-Making and Habit Change (10:02)
  • The Impact of Awareness and Mindfulness on Habit Change (14:58)
  • Analysing Eating Habits and the Food Environment (24:35)
  • Survivorship Bias in Successful Habit Change (27:36)
  • Emotional Eating and Coping Mechanisms (31:17)
  • Addressing Guilt, Shame, and Systemic Failures (36:24)
  • Environmental Influences on Eating Patterns (41:18)
  • Breaking Negative Eating Habits: Weight Loss Journey (49:00)
  • Effective Strategies to Stop Destructive Habits: Breathwork (58:53)
  • The Role of Psychedelics and Meditation in Overcoming Negative Eating Habits (1:01:24)
  • How the Brain Changes When We Modify Eating Habits (1:04:36)
  • Pharmacology vs. Mindfulness: Which Is More Effective? (1:07:57)
  • Practical Tips to Overcome Night Cravings (1:19:10)
  • Measuring Success in Habit Change (1:28:50)
  • Debunking the 21-Day Habit Formation Myth (1:34:51)
  • Conclusion and Final Thoughts (1:35:54)

I hope this conversation helps you shift your mindset towards food and the many potential reasons people might struggle with food control. Whether this conversation benefits you personally or helps you become more empathetic about what others are struggling with, Dr Brewer’s expertise provides an insightful perspective on this topic.

Connect with Dr Jud Brewer on InstagramTwitter/XYouTube, and Threads. Learn more about Dr Brewer on his website,, where you can also order his latest book, The Hunger Habit.

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More about Jud Brewer, MD PhD

Jud Brewer MD PhD (“Dr. Jud”) is a New York Times best-selling author and thought leader in the field of habit change and the “science of self-mastery”, having combined over 25 years of experience with mindfulness training with his scientific research therein. He is the Director of Research and Innovation at the Mindfulness Center and professor in Behavioral and Social Sciences and Psychiatry at the Schools of Public Health & Medicine at Brown University. A psychiatrist and internationally known expert in mindfulness training for addictions, Brewer has developed and tested novel mindfulness programs for habit change, including both in-person and app-based treatments for smoking, emotional eating, and anxiety. He has also studied the underlying neural mechanisms of mindfulness using standard and real-time fMRI and EEG neurofeedback. He has trained US Olympic athletes and coaches, foreign government ministers, and his work has been featured on 60 Minutes, TED (4th most viewed talk of 2016, with 19+ Million views), the New York Times, Time magazine (top 100 new health discoveries of 2013), Forbes, BBC, NPR, Al Jazeera (documentary about his research), Businessweek and others. His work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, American Heart Association, among others. Dr. Brewer founded MindSciences (which merged with Sharecare Inc. in 2020) to move his discoveries of clinical evidence behind mindfulness for anxiety, eating, smoking and other behaviour change into the hands of consumers (see for more information). He is the author of *The Craving Mind: from cigarettes to smartphones to love, why we get hooked and how we can break bad habits* (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017), the New York Times best-seller, *Unwinding Anxiety: New Science Shows How to Break the Cycles of Worry and Fear to Heal Your Mind* (Avery/Penguin Random House, 2021) and the forthcoming book The Hunger Habit: why we eat when we’re not hungry and how to stop (Avery/Penguin Random House, 2024).

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