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Psychology and Weight Loss Management

Studies show that the average Australian adult is above a healthy weight. Two-thirds of those adults are currently going through some weight loss program. Unfortunately, 40 percent of that lost weight is regained in the first year after losing it.

Many people believe that eating less and exercising more will help them with their weight loss. It’s true that those two factors are very important, but maintaining your weight after losing it takes a lot more than that.

Research from dietician and PhD Scholar Gina Cleo shows that if a person changes their habits, they can maintain long-term weight loss.

A big part of weight control is understanding and managing thoughts and behaviours which can derail a person from their goal. A psychologist can provide help in this area, helping you stay on track.

Treatment plans are different for each person. However, the goal is to develop skills and techniques to change old beliefs, eating habits, behaviour and environments. All these factors contribute to achieving weight management goals.

You might be asked to keep a log of your food intake, your thoughts and feelings. This is a way for you to recognise and address behaviours.

Dismissing Old Beliefs

Many people live with beliefs and behaviours that are sabotaging their weight loss and making themselves feel bad when they can’t achieve their goal. Some of them are:

  • I must eat all the food on my plate
  • I need dessert after my meal
  • I can eat whatever I want because I exercise
  • I’m eating because I’m stressed/sad/bored

Changing Eating Habits

A major step in losing weight long-term is changing unhealthy eating behaviours and thoughts. The following steps might be helpful.

  • Keep a food diary. Write down what you ate, how you felt during the day, your thoughts, what was your environment like and what did you do. Going back and reading that might help you understand your behaviours and choose what to change and what to keep.
  • Track your activity level. Don’t just track how much time you spent at the gym or how many exercises you did. Consider how much you move around in general. Getting a pedometer will help you monitor this more effectively.
  • Establish regular, consistent eating habits. Don’t skip meals thinking that you can eat those calories later. Skipping meals slows your metabolism and makes you vulnerable to binge-eating.
  • Practice mindfulness. Often people with eating problems don’t pay attention to their hunger levels when they eat. A psychologist can help you learn mindfulness techniques to heighten awareness and to eat when you are hungry.
  • Become aware of what you associate with food. Sometimes people connect emotions or activities with food, like eating when they are watching TV. When you acknowledge these behaviours, you can change them. If it’s an emotion, next time you grab a snack, think; am I hungry or is it boredom, stress or sadness that’s making me eat? If you are not hungry, find another way to cope with those emotions.

Get Support

Changing your habits and behaviours is difficult, but deciding to do so is a step closer to a healthier you. Psychological Health Care provides counselling and support to help you achieve your weight management goals. To find out more, contact us for an initial consultation.