Change your thinking, lose the weight

June 21, 2018 | by Heather Bautista, ND, CNS, LDN
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

So many people struggle with their weight. Today, 7 in 10 adults and 1 in 3 children are obese or overweight in the United States.

Obesity can have a devastating effect on your health and well-being. It can increase your risk of medical conditions like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. It can lead to depression, anxiety and low self-worth. Obesity affects all areas of life, including relationships and work.

It’s not as if we aren’t trying to lose the extra weight. We go on diets, buy low-calorie foods, and join the gym. But losing weight isn’t as simple as eating less and exercising more.

The causes of obesity are complex. Genetic, biological and environmental factors often interfere with our best efforts to lose weight. Stress, anxiety and depression also influence our ability to maintain a healthy weight. Many of us use food to make ourselves feel better.

Losing weight is one of the hardest, most frustrating and most psychologically taxing things a human can do. A major aspect of weight control involves our emotions and how we relate to food. The thoughts, feelings and beliefs underneath our behaviors can sabotage our weight loss efforts.

How can you avoid yo-yo dieting and establish a psychologically healthy relationship with food?

Start with adopting a healthy nutrition plan (focus on long-term eating habits) and an exercise plan that works for you (make it fun!). Also, find ways to reduce stress, get good sleep, and be kind to yourself.

Next, Psychology Today shares these strategies to help you lose weight and keep it off:

  • Plan it out. Allow adequate time in your day for buying, preparing and eating healthy food. Set an alarm if necessary so you don't get stuck watching TV or working at the computer.
  • Stock up on healthy snacks. Find ones that have a pleasing texture and taste. You may like the crunchiness of carrots or the smoothness of frozen yogurt. Drinking a cup of hot tea with your midafternoon snack may make it feel more satisfying. Try to control sugar cravings. 
  • Ask family and friends for support. Ideally, working on weight loss together means you can encourage and support each other and help keep each other on track.
  • Stay "in the moment" while eating. Avoid eating at the computer or while driving, or multitasking while you eat. Tune into the experience of eating, what tastes and textures you feel like, how satisfying the food is, and what it feels like to be hungry or full.
  • Remind yourself of your weight loss goal each day. You could paste a picture of a thinner version of you on your desk, or write your reasons for losing weight on a note card that you keep with you.
  • Don't get caught in thinking traps. Reward yourself occasionally with an extra snack or a small dessert. If you have a bad day, don't use it as an excuse to go off your diet for a week. Remind yourself to get back on track as quickly as possible.
  • Tell yourself "I can do this." If you catch yourself thinking negatively, switch to thinking about other situations in which you successfully learned a new behavior. Visualize yourself resisting temptation or throwing the extra weight into the ocean to keep motivated.

If you don't succeed at first, keep trying. Weight is a difficult issue, intrinsically connected to our emotions and habits. Successful weight loss involves re-learning a healthier way of living — and thinking!

Read Doug’s story: My weight-loss journey started “by accident”

Edward-Elmhurst Health offers both surgical and non-surgical options to help you achieve permanent weight loss and the healthy, active life you were meant to live. Learn more.

Heather Bautista, ND, CNS, LDN, naturopathic nutritionist with the Integrative Medicine Clinic, can educate you in choosing a healthy lifestyle to help you achieve your weight goals. 

Edward Elmhurst Health & Fitness uses a behavior modification approach to weight loss. Explore Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness.

Related blogs:

How to stop using food to make yourself feel better
6 tips to help you get slim for good
When is it time for bariatric surgery?

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