First things first, the only really effective way to lose weight, and for that weight loss to be lasting over time, is to make a change in habits, eat healthily and exercise. However, starting to make that change is not always easy since we are very involved in our routine, we do not know how to change it or there are some problems behind that make us maintain those unhealthy habits. That is where psychology can lend us a hand, and help make these changes. Here is a list of techniques that you can put into practice to help you start your new healthy lifestyle.
Psychological strategies that help us lose weight
Go shopping on a full stomach
Shopping hungry not only causes us to buy more food than we had planned in addition, probably going for the most striking and least nutritious – the type of food that satisfies quickly, without providing any nutritional benefit and causing you to feel hungry again in a very short time – but also, according to a study by Jing Xu and his team even make you want to buy more material things not related to food.
Some studies suggest that imagining yourself eating a certain type of food numerous times causes you to end up feeling less desire to eat that food and therefore eat less. That is, making a mental representation can generate habituation to the stimulus. This can be a useful technique if there is a particular food that you know is unhealthy, but you have a strong desire to eat. However, this technique should only be carried out when we are willing to dedicate time and effort, because imagining yourself eating a food a few times – and not enough to create habituation – can cause the opposite effect and we end up eating more.
Learn to manage impulsivity
The reality is that we probably need the help of a psychology professional at this point, but according to some studies, including one by Lumley and his team, greater impulsivity could be related to higher consumption of food with large amounts of saturated fat and added sugar. Learning to control our impulsiveness could be of great help to improve our diet.
This may sound contradictory, but the reality is that dieting and having very heavy restrictions on food can cause an intense and difficult to control craving to consume those “forbidden” foods. The ideal makes, little by little, a change in eating habits, without doing restrictive diets.
Anxiety problems can cause us to binge on food
In this case, as in the case of impulsivity, it is most likely that we will need help from a professional. Although there are some basic techniques, such as learning to do diaphragmatic breaths or Jacobson’s progressive relaxation that we can learn and will help us. In any case, anxiety problems, according to research such as Fitzsimmons-Craft, can cause us to binge, probably as a method of controlling anxiety. If we learn to manage anxiety with more effective and healthy techniques, we could avoid having to resort to such binges.
Breaking the association between our social circle and food
The reality is that many of us associate food with social gatherings. The problem comes in that, according to some research, we associate meetings with friends with unhealthy food or junk food. Therefore, it is more possible that although we take care of ourselves at home, when we go out with friends we end up eating foods that we know are unhealthy and unhealthy. Breaking that association could help us maintain healthy habits no matter who we are with.
If I don’t see it, I don’t eat it
According to Wansink and his team, we eat what we have insight. These researchers found that people who had fruit in their kitchens weighed less than those who had sweets, cereals, or sugary drinks insight. The advice, therefore, would be to remove from our home, or at least from our sight, the less healthy foods and change them for healthy ones. Because we will eat what we see.
As we can see, all the techniques are aimed at making it easier for us to go without that unhealthy food to which we are so accustomed and the facilitate the transition to a healthy life, without magic recipes, in addition to treating the underlying problems, such as anxiety, that may be maintaining our unhealthy lifestyle. The more we put them into practice, the healthier we will feel, and the easier it will be to turn this routine change into a habit.