Being Well Podcast: The Science of Hunger, Habits, and Changing Your Relationship with Food with Dr. Jud Brewer
March 4, 2024

There are as many ways to have a difficult relationship with food as there are ways to eat. It’s hard to get conversations about these challenges right, but today on the Being Well Podcast, we’re taking the plunge and exploring the habit of eating when we’re not hungry with psychiatrist Dr. Jud Brewer. 

Dr. Rick, Forrest, and Dr. Jud start by discussing our often flawed approach to conversations about eating patterns, shame spirals, and the many problems with diets. They then move the conversation from what we eat to how we eat, applying Dr. Jud’s work on habits and craving to the challenge of emotional eating. Specific topics include the neuroscience behind how our hunger cues and emotional cues get mixed up, common habit loops related to food, reward value and the importance of creating a prediction error, the nature of craving as wanting without liking, mindfulness-based tools, and how we can create a bigger, better offer for our brains.

About our Guest: Dr. Jud Brewer is a psychiatrist, the director of research and innovation at Brown University’s Mindfulness Center, a professor in Behavioral and Social Sciences at the School of Public Health and Psychiatry at the School of Medicine at Brown University, and a research affiliate at MIT. He’s also the bestselling author of a number of books, including The Craving Mind, Unwinding Anxiety, and his most recent book.

Disclaimer: If you struggle with a serious restrictive eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia nervosa, the material in this conversation will not support your needs. Please consider working with your doctor or mental health clinician, or using the free resources at If you need immediate help, call the ANAD hotline at 1-888-375-7767.

You can watch this episode on YouTube.

Key Topics:

  • 0:00: Introduction and disclaimer
  • 2:40: The surprising finding from Jud’s smoking cessation program
  • 6:05: What Jud’s new book is not about, and information vs. behavior
  • 11:05: The mental health impact of dieting, and the problem with willpower
  • 18:05: Hedonic hunger, and food-mood wiring
  • 24:15: Bringing awareness to how we eat, and our cultural conditioning
  • 31:50: Developing freedom of choice, and the MBSR raisin exercise
  • 36:20: A walkthrough of mindful eating
  • 44:25: When you don’t want to let go of a behavior, and finding the bigger better offer
  • 52:50: Kindness, curiosity, and other tools for improving interoception
  • 57:00: Ways to find the bigger better offer
  • 1:07:45: Caring for our future self
  • 1:11:30: Recap

Forrest is now writing on Substack, check out his work there.

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Join Dr. Rick and Forrest Hanson every week on the Being Well Podcast for lively and thought-provoking conversation and practical tips for being happier, building inner strengths, and getting the most out of life.

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