The weight loss industry brings $614m in revenue in Australia alone growing 1% annually, with the top contenders being Weight Watchers, Lite’N’Easy and Jenny Craig. Just switch on the TV, open a magazine or read an article online and you’ll practically be punched in the face with innumerable advertising for the latest weight loss diet or regime.
It’s tiring and confusing, because people are divided as to whether they should count calories, count carbs, go on a soup diet or eat paleo. Everybody wants to know the ultimate secret to weight loss and the industry clouding everyone’s judgment by not providing clear and consistent information.
So what if I said you could actually use your heart and your mind to lose weight? Sounds poetic, but hear me out. Food choices and consumption habits all start with our behaviour. And what comes before behaviour? Thoughts. Intentions. Desire. These thing spring out of our hearts and flow into our minds, causing us to either reach for the cookie or apple.
I would like to introduce a simple incorporating cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) into your eating habits. Yes, we are bringing psychology and weight loss into the same pool because they are so closely linked! Thoughts -> behaviour -> results.
- Become aware of what you’re feeling, e.g. “I’m feeling like I want a doughnut. I’m craving sugar.”
- Label it assertively, “This is a craving I’m experiencing. I don’t really need the doughnut, it’s just my brain that’s addicted to sugar.”
- Do another behaviour, i.e. go for a walk around the block, listen to some music, read an article. Do anything that distracts you.
This all sounds very preliminary, but what you’re doing is redirecting those thoughts that give rise to the behaviours that are destructive to your health and weight loss goals. You’re changing brain pathways so that the feeling of wanting sugar will lessen over time. It won’t happen immediately, but as you consistently practice this skill, it will become easier to so deny the bad food. After a period of time, you would have ingrained a habit into your brain – think of it like hardwiring a program into your computer!
Drug and alcohol addicts can use the exact same model because the principle is essentially the same – change your thinking, change your behaviour, change your outcome.
So to recap: 1) Be aware of your feelings 2) Label those feelings assertively 3) Do another behaviour.
You can’t control the cravings and associated thoughts that pop into your head, urging you to stuff your face with whatever chocolatey gooey goods, but you can control your behaviour. And that’s what CBT is all about.