What Do Your Thoughts Have to Do with Eating and Weight Loss? (Continued)
If Claire were thinking these thoughts it is likely that her mood would decline and she may feel fed up, anxious, and/or depressed. If she were thinking these thoughts and feeling these emotions it is probable she would experience some changes in her bodily sensations such as fatigue and irritability. If she were thinking these thoughts, feeling these emotions and experiencing these bodily symptoms, it is likely that her subsequent actions may be affected. For example she may snap at a family member who asks how her healthy eating is going. Or she might decide to eat something fattening as a ‘treat' to cheer herself up.
According to the theory of CBT, all of these experiences — thoughts, emotions, body sensations and behaviors — interact to bring about a certain outcome. CBT focuses on your thoughts as playing the central role in our psychological wellbeing. Therefore by changing your thinking patterns you can change the emotions you are experiencing and the behaviors you are most likely to engage in. this means if you can gain insight and control into your thinking styles, you can gain control over your eating behaviors. Exciting isn't it?
So how can you change your thinking patterns? Perhaps you can identify with the example of Claire and have had the experience of getting on the scales, realizing you hadn't lost any weight and feeling disappointed. However Claire's reaction was only one of a number of possible ones. Other possibilities are, "Well it's only been a week – I'll keep going for another week and see how I get on." If you were thinking these thoughts it is likely you would have a different set of moods, a different set of body sensations, and therefore a different set of behaviors. Instead of snapping at your partner or deciding to eat a sweet treat to comfort yourself you may instead think, "This IS frustrating, but what can I have for dinner tonight that is healthy and will help me stay on track to reach my goal next week?" You might tell your partner you are disappointed and ask for a hug or a reminder of how good you'll feel once you've reached your goal.
This shift in thinking has the potential to profoundly affect both your emotional experience around eating and your subsequent behavior. Focusing on your thoughts and replacing unhelpful thoughts with more supportive and empowering ones can help you to reach your weight loss goals and overcome the barriers that prevent you from behaving the way you would like in relation to eating.
In the next article I'll be discussing the 5-step process of how to challenge the thoughts that don't empower you around food. Looking forward to connecting with you then!
Dr. Jen Nash is a clinical psychologist who has lived with diabetes for more than 20 years. She runs www.PositiveDiabetes.com, an education, therapy and coaching service that supports people with type 1 and 2 to manage the emotional and psychological impact of day to day life with diabetes.
NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.
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