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One of the surprising things Dr. Daniel and Tana Amen have learned in their encounters with addicts is that the treatment centers they visit often feed them bad, unhealthy food. The problem is that this food affects their brains, thus making it even harder for them to stick to the new patterns necessary for their recovery. In this episode, Tana Amen shares how one of these experiences encouraged her to create a system of healthy eating that works, even for those on a tight budget.
For more information on Tana’s new book, “The Relentless Courage of a Scared Child”, visit https://www.thomasnelson.com/9781400220762/the-relentless-courage-of-a-scared-child/
Daniel Amen, MD:
Welcome to the Brain Warrior’s Way podcast. I’m Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
And I’m Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years using tools like brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit amenclinics.com.
The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to brainmd.com.
Welcome back. We are so excited you’re with us grateful, and-
… Tana and I are grateful you’re allowing us to talk about her new book, The Relentless Courage of a Scared Child. There’s so many lessons from that Salvation Army story, and I want to talk about more, but I have another review I want to read-
… First. And this is, I love this, mom brain. I have so many people telling me that when they had a baby their brain completely changed.
Oh, I had pregnancy dimension, no one ever told me it wasn’t going to go away.
So this is from Jamie4658, “I enjoy listening and learning. I’d love to hear your opinions about mom brain and how the brain changes after motherhood, as well as any healthy tips on how to handle the stress and anxiety motherhood may bring.”
Yeah, we need to do a whole series on hormones, because I actually did a presentation in a forum on that very topic, because that was such a big thing for me.
Any quick tips for Jamie?
It’s normal that it happens. It actually is a biological thing. Your brain prunes itself when you get pregnant, and so it changes, your chemistry changes and part of that is done so that you will do anything to protect your nest.
You’ll put up with way more than you ever did before or ever will again, after you have empty nest syndrome. Because guess what, it’s going to change again when you go through menopause and it’s going to prune itself again, and you’re going to become more testosterone dominant.
Where before your female hormones were more dominant, when you have children, now your female hormones are going to drop, testosterone is going to be more dominant. And you’re going to tell people, “you know what, forget you. I’m doing it my way.”
But knowing that is important because now you can begin to recognize that’s what’s happening. It’s not that everybody’s trying to irritate you it’s that your brain is changing. So if you don’t want to end up divorced, pay attention.
So as you’re starting into menopause, I guess I should be really careful.
Well, and the thing is I’m aware of it. So for me, I take hormones. Not everybody wants to take hormones. That’s a personal choice between you and your doctor. And when I heard that everybody thinks that divorces are filed during middle age because of men, but it’s not true, it’s the women who are filing because they’re just done.
75% of the time.
They’re done. And so when I heard that, I’m like, “Whoa. Okay, I need to be aware of my own behavior during this time.”
Well, let’s stay married, for sure.
Yes. So when I go in the room and close the door he knows, if I’m like, “just today is not a good day. You need to just…” He’s like, “Oh, okay.” He’s very cooperative, so it’s good.
All right. Back to the Salvation Army story and working with these addicts. And I think one of the big lessons is they only had what, 85 cents a day to feed them?
And they were basically feeding them a toxic diet of simple carbohydrates.
And they weren’t aware of it, the intentions were always good.
But this is happening in virtually every addiction-
… Treatment center-
Right. Addiction treatment centers.
… In the world.
And they already come with a damaged brain because of the substance abuse damages the brain. Anybody’s who’s been paying attention to this podcast knows alcohol is not a health food. Marijuana is not going green, the stuff damages your brain. And so if you’re trying to get better, which comes from a series of decisions to be better, and yet they’re perpetuating brain damage with toxic food. That’s why Laura, who had followed me for years, she’d come to my lectures and we became friends, she got convicted about what she was feeding her beneficiaries. And it was terrible like all drug treatment programs and you really help them change on a budget.
Right? No, on a really tight budget. So that’s why when people write to me and they’re like, “I want eat healthy, but I can’t.” I’m like, “look, you can. I promise you I’ve written numerous blogs on this, on how to eat healthy on a budget.” Yeah, you might not be shopping at the most expensive gourmet stores and buying everything organic, but you can do this. There are ways to do this. And I write about it extensively. So in Brain Warrior’s Way I write about it, in the cookbook I write about it because it’s one of the number one barriers in people’s minds. And that’s what I want you to get today. It’s in your mind. If you actually have the tips and the tools, you can do this.
And Oh, by the way, if you are struggling with your mood, if you’re struggling with trauma, like I did with past trauma, if you’re struggling with things like eating disorders, if you’re struggling with those issues, your nutrition and your lifestyle choices and your decision-making is critical to your healing. And I didn’t know that at the time. I did several hundred hours of metabolic medicine, and when I realized the connection between food and my mood, and I realized everything they put on the end of my fork matters, I don’t ever want to be so depressed again that I want to die, because I’ve been there. When I realized that it actually affects compulsive behavior, it affects depression, it affects anxiety, where was that information when I was growing up?
And you went to an eating disorder program.
I did. And fucking never went back, because I felt like I got labeled as defective, as opposed to just teaching me how to handle the anxiety. I think eating disorders are always different, but for me it was more about managing my anxiety, and it was a form of control over the chaos all around me, and…
Well, we’re going to get to the eating disorder, to the molestation, to cancer, depression, into your crazy father. We’re going to get to all of that. I want us to spend a few minutes and talk some more about you working with the people at the Salvation Army and just how pivotal it was to open up and tell your story. Because I think what it really did is it connected you.
Oh, they were shocked. I had people coming up to me afterwards going, “I had no idea. I never would have known.” And I’m like, “well, of course you wouldn’t have known, because I spent all this time building this wall.” And that’s when I realized it.
And the wall was a defense mechanism against pain.
And it began to crumble at that point. That’s when it started.
It was a defense mechanism against pain, and then you actually started to connect with them.
A lot, yeah. No, I really liked them. I really cared, yeah. It was really interesting. I have so many amazing stories, just life-changing stories, a woman who had lost her kids because of her drug use, they were taken from her, the gang banger I went grocery shopping with. Just so many moments that I had where I was able to not just connect with them, but teach them the tools I had learned. And I, in a million years, would never have guessed that the pain that I went through, the depression I went through, the wanting to die, all the icky ugly stuff that I had to unpack in order to get well, that that would be the thing. Those would be the things, that pain would be the thing that would actually become my purpose in life. So rather than running from it, it was almost like God was going, “let me use this. Let me help you use this for good.
And part of being able to do that was the therapy you went through-
… Realizing you’re not alone-
I’m not a victim.
… A lot of people go through trauma. There’s estimated, 20 million Americans have post-traumatic stress disorder, it’s 7.5% of the population, probably now since the pandemic. And there’s certain things you can do that help, and there’s certain things you do that absolutely don’t help-
… That make things worse. Remember any of the tips for the food, that they could do it on a budget?
Oh yeah. Well, it’s pretty extensive, it would take more than a few minutes. It’s in the Brain Warrior’s Way, I write about it extensively, you can also get it on my website at tanaamen.com. But first of all… Well, I categorize things. For people who are really on a budget, ABC. These are the things that you need to buy that are organic, that are grass fed. They’re the most toxic, the most dangerous. The next one is, okay, we can get a little bit on this because this is not going to hurt you as much. And then C is, we don’t need to go organic on these. So you can go to environmentalworkinggroup.org and you can get the Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen, they will tell you which ones. You need to focus on being organic.
I’m going to go off for two hours if we start this, but if you go to my website, all those tools are there. In the Brain Warrior’s Way cookbook, the tools are there. It teaches you how to use your leftovers without tossing them, how to shop. And I have grocery lists on my website so that you don’t buy things you don’t need, and you don’t buy extra. So it actually helps you with exactly the amounts you need for each meal. People waste more food than they think. And that’s what was discovered is that the reason people are spending so much money on healthy food is because yeah, it’s a little more expensive, but it’s mostly because people are wasting most of it. They’re not using it effectively.
Well, Trader Joe’s, for example, has these great chicken thighs, hormone-free, [crosstalk [00:11:23] and they’re not expensive at all.
Walmart and Costco now have a ton of stuff.
Yeah. So you can do this. Because we really didn’t increase the amount of money they spend.
No, we couldn’t.
… Because they didn’t have anymore.
And what I loved was the excitement that once they realized if I change my diet, I think better-
… I lose weight. And I remember they’d come up to you with their pants.
Huge pants. And one of them was so great. One of them came up to me, and he has these giant pants and he’s really in pretty good shape at that point, he was exercising and he’s got these giant pants that used to be his, and he goes, “I finally have a six pack, but the kind that won’t get me arrested”. It was really cute. They actually have really good sense of humor, and they were really great.
When we come back I want you to talk about Thomas and that story. It’s just a story I’ll never forget. And we have an event coming up free, December 12th.
We really hope you’ll join us.
We’re going to give away an evaluation at one of the Amen clinics at the end, you have to stay to the end. Great speakers, Dr. Caroline Leaf, Pastor Miles McPherson, Paster Derwin Gray. And we have pastors because we love them and they are masterful at dealing with trauma.
Well, one of the reasons that I just had to have Derwin Gray there is because I heard his story. And you wouldn’t think that I’d be so connected to him. I just felt this immediate affinity to him. He’s this black pastor that grew up in the South and he grew up in a pretty toxic environment, really toxic environment. And the minute I heard his story, I just felt connected to him, and I’m not exactly sure why.
And he’s an NFL player.
Yeah. I had to have him speak because he is just magnificent at taking pain and just turning it around for people, and giving you hope.
And Pastor Miles McPherson is the senior pastor at the Rock in San Diego, one of the fastest growing churches, who wrote a book called The Third Option-
That’s why we wanted him in.
… Which is amazing, and about how to deal with the racial divide and trauma that does associate…
We’ve had some pretty great conversations, raw. Raw, hard conversations, but they are so necessary and it’s been so great. So I wanted to share that
So, December 12th, please sign up for it, send the link to all of your friends and you can also go to relentlesscourage.com. And if you pre-order the book at Amazon or barnesandnoble.com or anywhere great books are sold. Tana has a whole list of guests for you, including a video course that she and I created specifically for you. So stay with us.
If you are enjoying the Brain Warrior’s Way podcast, please don’t forget to subscribe so you’ll always know when there’s a new episode. And while you’re at it, feel free to give us a review or five-star rating, as that helps others find the podcast.
Dr. Daniel Amen:
If you’re considering coming to Amen Clinics or trying some of the brain healthy supplements from BrainMD, you can use the code podcast 10 to get a 10% discount on a full evaluation at amenclinics.com or a 10% discount on all supplements at brainmdhealth.com. For more information, give us a call at 855-978-1363.