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Two Unusual But Effective Techniques to Control Overeating

control overeating

The U.S. population, according to the Centers for Disease Control, is increasingly becoming obese.  The CDC reports that currently, 35.7% of adults are obese.  And children are also affected– in 2011, nearly 18% of all children between the ages of 6-11 were obese.*

*Source:  Centers of Disease Control, http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html

While much attention is placed on diet, nutrition and exercise to combat obesity, the initial driver of the problem is the individual’s mindset.  There needs to be more studies on how people develop unhealthy eating habits and how those habits can be eliminated.  The key to solving obesity involves using ways to re-train the mind to adopt healthier routines.

If you are obese or overweight and desire to be leaner and more fit, do not start any diet without first addressing your mindset.  Your thinking patterns are essentially the software that controls your behavior.  They determine how you react when you feel hungry and when you are confronted with food.  It doesn’t make sense to go on a diet without “re-booting” your subconscious mind and eliminating unhealthy habits that reside there.   One can attempt to go on a diet and try to eat healthy, which can work for a while, but this  behavior is driven by the conscious mind and takes effort that is unsustainable.   It’s like holding your breath–eventually you have to come up for air.   You will fall back into your old habits and return to where you began.

So, how does one re-boot his mindset?  The answer:  do behavioral modification exercises.   Just like weight training exercises can rebuild the body’s muscles, various forms of behavioral modification exercises can gradually reshape the subconscious mind into one that drives healthy behaviors instead of unhealthy ones.  While you should not rely exclusively on your conscious mind for behavioral change, you can still use it to reprogram your subconscious mind.

The first mental exercise to help control overeating is the Staged Will Power Exercise.   Place one of your favorite unhealthy vice foods on your kitchen table, sit down in front of it, and stare at it for five minutes.   Resist the temptation to eat it (this is the challenging part of the mental exercise) then, throw it away (make sure it gets soiled so you cannot retrieve it and eat later) and eat an alternative healthy food like a small handful of toasted almonds and raisins.   When you throw away the unhealthy vice food, you will experience a feeling of alarm as it will be a situation entirely foreign to your subconscious mind.

Force yourself to weather this storm of protest and follow through with the exercise.  Repeat this routine every day for a few weeks.  It will require wasting food, but think of it as the cost of reprogramming your subconscious mind.  What you are doing is planting a seed in your subconscious that tells it you have a choice when faced with tempting foods; that you do not have to automatically reach for it whenever you see it, and that you do fine by avoiding it.  Keep doing this exercise with the main vice foods that you tend to overeat (cake, pies, cookies, potato chips, ice cream, etc.), and that thought seed will grow into a new, healthier habit that will displace your old unhealthy habit.

Another mental exercise to reprogram your subconscious mind is the Break the Momentum Technique.  When you are about to eat a meal, a number of primitive physiological events occur that encourage you to overeat.   It starts with the body’s secretion of the hormone ghrelin, which occurs primarily in the stomach, intestines, and pancreas.   This is the hormone responsible for the feeling of hunger.  Secondly, your mood elevates, as your body senses it is about to be nourished.  Then, you start salivating.  Saliva is your body’s first digestive response, along with chewing.  Next, your stomach may start contracting (the hunger growl).  It is anticipating food and is getting ready to churn it to aid in digestion.  When you are at this stage, it is like a locomotive gaining steam–when it goes into full speed, it is difficult to stop.

Here is where the Break the Momentum Technique comes in:  five minutes into your meal, force yourself to stop eating for the next five minutes.  It will be difficult at first, as those physiological effects are in full swing encouraging you to eat as much as you can.  By forcing yourself to temporarily stop, you slow down the momentum of these physiological events and the urge to eat is dampened.  This gives you more control over how much of the meal you want to eat.  Also, after five minutes your dinner plate is in disarray  so the food loses some of its visual appeal; and of course, it  gets a little colder, which further dampens the food’s appeal.  At this point, you are more aware to eat for nutrition, not for pleasure.  You are less likely to overeat.  When you resume, chew your food slowly.  You will feel fuller sooner, and levels of leptin will rise.  Leptin is the counter hormone to ghrelin that creates the feeling of satiety.

To summarize, in order to lose weight permanently, one must focus on changing his eating habits by reprogramming the subconscious mind.   The way to accomplish this is to do behavioral modification exercises repeatedly to weaken deep-rooted unhealthy thinking patterns.  Your subconscious mind will then drive healthier eating habits which eventually leads to permanent weight loss and optimum health.

For more actionable information on weight loss and optimum health, visit WeightLossMavens.com.

Dr. Dan Perez is a chiropractor, health and wellness expert, author, and publisher of http://WeightLossMavens.com. He is also a health coach and creator of online health courses for the general public.

1 Comment

  1. KR Rahman

    May 28, 2013 at 6:08 am

    I am talking here about the image that have used at the top of the article; is very intelligent image work indeed. Though there are many ways to give the sense of over eating, using image effectively added more and more attention of the readers. Thanks Dr. Dan Perez for your great sharing.

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