The Key Psychological Rules of Weight Loss
There are some psychological rules that you really should know.
Let’s go over them here so you can increase your chances for weight loss success.
Think about them and use them.
Many people believe that losing weight is just a matter of changing what you eat or how much you eat. But, in reality, it’s not that simple. Losing weight is more about changing your brain and the way you think. This is why the typical “rules for dieting just don’t work.
If you want to make lasting changes to your health and reduce your weight permanently, you need to fully understand the psychological barriers that are causing your dieting attempts to fail.
To start by changing your eating habits is particularly tricky because eating is something we MUST do for our continued survival. Unlike other unhealthy habits, like smoking or drinking, you still must eat every day to live. Dieting is simply not an option for extended periods. Your body literally demands food, and your mind has lots of influence over your ability to focus and enjoy life when you don’t listen to these cues.
Instead of being driven by logic and reason, your food choices, or at least food cravings are most often driven by brain biochemistry, habit, addictions to substances found in food, and external stimuli. We are motivated most by our emotions, which means that stress, depression, and other feelings heavily influence our food choices and rationalization for the inability to maintain a particular way of eating.
Your Brain is Great at Making Excuses
Because your brain and ability to make food choices is controlled not just by reason but also by all these other factors, your will can weaken over the course of any given day. And because you’re affected by these factors, your ability to stay committed to new habits and to change your patterns of behavior is quite weak.
There is virtually no limit to how far humans will go to rationalize their unhealthy choices or explain their poor eating habits. Being aware of this power of your brain can be helpful in overcoming this unfortunate reality.
The World is Full of Food Cues
When your body feels hungry, it releases hormones that make you notice food more. It’s an evolutionary response that’s designed to keep you alive. But, in today’s world of food abundance, it can be difficult to ignore.
And this hormonal response is designed to make you notice those things that are highest in energy stores (i.e., calories and fat) rather than the healthiest choices. So, you’ll see the cupcake more often than the healthy salad. For those trying to lose weight, these psychological cues can be hard to overcome.
Deprivation Creates Temptation
When you decide a particular food or category of foods (like carbs) are off-limits, your brain automatically wants these more and will crave them at higher levels than if you enjoyed them in moderation. When you tell yourself you can’t have something, your instinct is to “sneak” these treats, so you’re more likely to overindulge in this food.
We Think in “All or Nothing” Rules
Rigid rules are challenging to follow, especially 100 percent of the time. When we make a mistake or go off plan, our brains will then just throw in the towel for that day, week, or month rather than just get back on track with the next food choice.
Many people start thirty-day challenges only to find themselves lacking resolve after a week or two and are unable to restart their healthier food choices until the beginning of the next month. This is because they can only think in terms of all or nothing, black or white.
Knowing that your brain works this way and the psychological rules that govern your thinking can be helpful in overcoming these forces and successfully changing your eating habits.