There are many factors that influence the food choices we make every day – from self-sabotaging thoughts and emotional eating habits to environmental cues. The good news is that there are powerful mental strategies you can use to help you lose weight – and keep if off for good.
Here are some strategies you can use:
Visualise your last meal
According to research, remembering – and visualising your last meal reduces appetite and curbs the desire to snack. It’s believed this works by activating the hippocampus, an area of the brain that influences decision-making and appetite regulation. So go ahead and evoke a vivid memory of your last meal!
Create a detailed action plan
When your goals are not specific enough then your resolve might melt and you’ll find yourself back at square one. Set yourself ‘when, where and what’ plans. Make a note of all the obstacles – and opportunities – you may face and how you could respond to each. Ask yourself: ‘When and where is a good opportunity for me to act on my healthy eating goal and what would this action be?’ This strategy helps you become more mindful, reduces conscious mental effort and consequently, makes healthy eating behaviour more automatic.
Boost your self-belief
We all know that a positive attitude can brighten a bad day, so it is with healthy eating. Self-efficiency – the belief that you can handle a challenging situation can assist in weight loss. Develop the habit of saying to yourself: ‘I can control my eating when food is available’ (availability), ‘I can resist eating when physically rundown’ (physical discomfort) and “I can resist eating when others pressure me’ (social pressure). Each time you resist the urge to eat for other than hunger reasons, you build your self-efficiency for the next challenge.
Screen for self-sabotage
Sometimes people self-sabotage because staying the way they are is less threatening than changing. Watch for self-sabotage when you feel the need to avoid social situations like functions or travelling on a plane. Some people fear the potential range of unknowns which unconsciously might be perceived as threats, for instance, attention from people. Take a few minutes to think this through by dividing a piece of paper into two columns one headed: ‘Why I might want to stay cuddly’ and the other ‘Why I may want to be slim’ and jot down the things that come to mind. Becoming more mindful and conscious of your motivations is a powerful first step towards not self-sabotaging.
Beat the binge with mindful eating
Anyone who has experienced compulsive or emotional eating knows that it has nothing to do with physical appetite. This is where mindful eating can help you. Mindful eating means tapping into your internal hunger and satiety signals. When you stop to listen to your body’s signals you may find that you’re satisfied before you clear your plate. Before eating, ask yourself: ‘Am I hungry?’ ‘Am I thirsty?’ and if you answered ‘yes’ then ask yourself: ‘What type of food/drink do I want?’ Once you start to become more mindful of your needs – and listen carefully to your body’s signals, you’ll be in a good position to eat mindfully.
To learn more about strategies for using the power of you mind to think yourself thin see: Think Yourself Thin