This isn’t an example of addictive behaviour, but it does show us that our brains adapt in response to experience. New networks are formed as a result of certain experiences and readily reform through others. They are doing this all the time, and they are doing this throughout our lives. Dr Doidge points out that without this ability of our brains to adapt, we could never be able to create addictive behaviour in the first place.
And what this means is that getting our brains to adapt – also known as neuroplasticity – is the way to break free and take control of addictive overeating.
Not all amputees develop phantom limb pain, which suggests that brains can update themselves without any need for intervention. This is what happens when people say it was easy for them to make major and lasting changes in what they eat. But most people make changes along the lines of, “eat this, and don’t eat that”, and no matter what the “this” and “that” are, they run into trouble sooner or later.
It could be a very good idea to eat “this” instead of “that” – but when you get to work on changing your brain signalling in the process, long-term results are extraordinary. I find many people don’t understand this, but for those whose brains get stuck – and many most certainly do – a deliberate process is clearly required.
This is perhaps the best way I know of to describe my work. It encompasses more than this, but this principle of neuroplasticity is at its core. Even better, you don’t need to believe any of this… just be willing to give it a try and see what happens.