Losing weight is a decision we make. Being in the right mindset is the most important thing. Most people know basically what they need to do in order to lose weight. But being in the right mindset to stick with it day after day is sometimes the area that needs more work versus coming up with the right meal plan.
In my office we do a lot of work with emotional eating. Sometimes people come in to see me and we never even talk about the actual food. There are so many things in our life that impact the way that we eat. Anytime we eat when we are not physically hungry, we can think about it as “using food.” Just like someone else may “use” drugs or alcohol to create a feeling or numb a feeling, very often people reach for food for the same reasons. And this is really hard because food is very easily accessible and we can’t cut it out entirely like someone may do with alcohol.
Studies have shown that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps people to not only lose more weight but keep weight off longer because they are also working on incorporating strategies and tactics into their life to combat emotional eating. Many people have triggers that send them looking for food. It could be stress, boredom, sadness, anger, procrastination—a million things make us eat. But every time we eat for a reason other than physical hunger, it is a form of emotional eating. It is important to have tactics that you use to keep emotional eating in check.
One of the tactics I talk about with my clients is “Walking Yourself Through the Food Choice,” which is similar to a strategy used in Alcoholics Anonymous, when someone is instructed to “Walk themselves through the Drink.” If someone is trying to convince themselves they will just have one drink, they are guided to take a few minutes to think about issues such as: When was the last time they were able to have one drink? Did one drink turn to two? Did two turn to five? What was their behavior like after drinking? What were the consequences and was it realistic that they were going to stop at just one?
The same thought process can be used with food. If you are going to buy a bag of cookies, chips, crackers, nuts—anything that you need to “count out”—ask yourself: When was the last time I was able to stop at the “recommended serving size”? Do I always eat more than I plan to eat? How do I feel when this happens?
It’s important to know your limits and your triggers, and not put yourself in these very trying food situations.
The book I recommended to Jennifer is called The Beck Diet Solution by Dr Judith Beck. Many of my clients read this book, and when they do the recommended homework, it really helps to get them thinking about this weight loss journey in a more productive way, and a way that will create permanent weight loss.
Elizabeth DeRobertis, MS, RD, CDN, CDE