Without your brain to back you up, counting on willpower is wishful thinking: "That's like asking me to run a marathon with a broken foot."
Not that Peeke considers this science an excuse to give in to addiction. But it means that unhealthful eating habits are something to take seriously, especially during the holiday season, when there's no escaping the cookie parties, office potlucks, family gatherings and an endless list of other social engagements focused on food.
Although it's impossible to quit food cold turkey — without some very serious consequences — Peeke says you should try to lay off anything that you identify as a false fix. For Peeke, that's sweets. "You can put cheese and crackers in front of me and it won't do anything. With sugar, my brain lights up," she says.
What you don't eat, you can't overeat. And there are ways to substitute other foods so you don't feel deprived. "You have to experiment and figure out what you feel safest with," says Peeke, who offers the example of eating frozen yogurt instead of ice cream. Or, if you always want to devour an entire baguette, maybe switch to a whole-wheat pita, so you won't lose control.
Making these choices becomes harder when you're fretting that your gossipy cousin is about to spill your deep secret to the rest of the family, or you can't manage to figure out how you're going to get that gigantic project wrapped up by the end of the year.
"Stress is the Achilles' heel of everyone with addiction. It makes you cave to the crave," Peeke says.
The best way to tamp down these feelings and avoid grabbing something out of the fridge that you shouldn't? Exercise.