Do you struggle maintaining or losing weight? Do you feel like you have tried virtually every exercise and diet tip under the sun, but still struggle to achieve your weight loss goals?
You’re not alone.
Most people focus virtually entirely on the physical aspects of weight loss; diet and exercise. However doing so can actually inhibit them from achieving their weight loss goals long-term.
Because they fail to realise we are all emotionally connected to food.
How Do We Form An Emotional Connection With Food?
The act of eating triggers neurotransmitters in our brains that give us a sense of pleasure, much like the kind of pleasure one would experience from euphoric drugs or falling in love. This teaches us to associate good feelings with eating food.
This association, plus powerful marketing and advertising of food, and the relationships with food we observe and learn from others as children, collectively causes us to become conditioned to use food not only for nourishment, but also as a means of comfort.
Think about it – sweet treats at Halloween, chocolate on Valentine’s Day, turkey, stuffing and all the trimmings at Christmas, cake and goodies on our birthdays, and a sweet treat as a reward for good behaviour; and all of these traditions emotionally connect us with food.
By the time children reach their teenage years, a firm emotional connection with food has been established.
Why Does This Affect My Weight Loss Goals?
By overlooking this emotional connection; a person is simply not fully equipped to achieve their weight loss goals in the time frame they have set out for themselves.
Many people assume that a lack of exercise is the biggest barrier to weight loss. However, our emotional connection to food can prove to be the biggest hurdle.
If you want to feel healthier, eat healthier and live healthier, the journey doesn’t start with diet and exercise. It starts with figuring out what drives your behaviours. Why do you eat certain foods?
What times of the day do you crave some foods, and why? Why do you succumb to cravings?
By spending a little time getting to understand why and when you eat, you are much better equipped to stick to your healthy diet and exercise programs, as you can take actions which help you overcome these negative associations.
When the going gets tough or the strategy isn’t quite producing results as quickly as you would like, it is easy to “fall off the wagon”, give up, and turn to food for comfort.
By identifying and becoming aware of your behaviours in regards to food, this is far less likely to happen.
And, more importantly, once you have achieved your weight loss goals, you are more likely to be able to maintain your weight, as you will have developed a much healthier relationship with food.
How Can We Identify An Emotional Connection With Food?
The key to managing an emotional connection with food is to acknowledge and develop awareness of this behaviour and the triggers. Consider keeping a daily diary that logs your food consumption and mood to help identify any unhealthy eating habits.
Before you eat anything, ask yourself if you’re eating because you’re hungry or because of a specific emotion, for example happiness, sadness, or boredom. Be as specific as possible with the type of emotions you are experiencing; don’t just note that you feel good or bad.
Note that you feel angry, frustrated, upset, euphorically happy, etc. Ask yourself – why is it that I’m reaching for this particular food, at this particular time?
Do this for a couple of weeks, and you’ll start to observe the patterns. Usually these are quite clear and easy to identify.
Look at your positive behaviours as well as negative behaviours – it’s important to understand why and when you demonstrate positive eating habits just as much as your negative ones.
By developing an awareness of any potential triggers, you can learn to “catch yourself” before you repeat bad behaviours and can learn how to redirect your thoughts and actions.
To Achieve My Weight Loss Goals, Is Following A Healthy Diet & Exercise Program Still Necessary?
Absolutely! The key takeaway from this article is that to accomplish your weight loss goals and maintain a healthy weight, you must take an integrated approach. You must engage both your body and your mind.
While joining a gym and stocking the refrigerator full of healthy foods will help with the physical aspects of weight loss, you must also work to tackle the emotional and psychological aspects that will greatly influence your journey; be it through something as simple as keeping a food diary, or engaging the help of weight loss therapists and psychologists.
If emotional baggage continues to affect your weight and deter your weight loss goals, you need to address your underlying emotional and psychological patterns.
Integrated Health Specialists can help you to unlock the key to permanent weight loss by dissecting your lifestyle habits, and finding the root causes of your poor eating habits.
Achieve the results you have longed for with our unique, holistic Integrated Weight Loss programs.
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Michelle van Namen 25 years of international experience working with human behaviour. She is a registered Psychologist in Australia. Michelle is an internationally accredited Master Practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming, Hypnotherapy and Life Coaching. She is also a qualified practitioner in Nutrigenomics, Reiki Jin Kei Do, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), EDMR, Integrated Spiritual Alignment (ISA), Crystal Therapy and Aromatherapy.
Michelle’s holistic approach to health and well-being means that she addresses not only your symptoms, but all potential contributing factors which may be affecting your well-being are taken into consideration. She views the client as an active participant in the healing process, rather than simply a passive recipient of “health care” and pharmaceuticals.