The Key to A Healthy Weight? Your Mind
When it comes to maintaining and achieving a healthy weight, many Americans may be missing the mark, according to a recent national survey.
The poll, commissioned by Orlando Health, found that only 1 in 10 people thought that psychological well-being was a factor when it came to weight loss.
"In order to lose weight and keep it off long term, we need to do more than just think about what we eat, we also need to understand why we're eating," said Dr. Diane Robinson, neuropsychologist and Program Director of Integrative Medicine at Orlando Health.
According to Robinson, most people focus solely on the physical aspects of weight loss. The survey found that 31 percent of Americans think a lack of exercise is the biggest barrier to shedding pounds, while 26 percent think it's diet. Twelve percent of Americans say the time commitment is what keeps them from losing weight.
Robinson explained that many people are conditioned to use food for comfort.
"That's not a bad thing, necessarily, as long as we acknowledge it and deal with it appropriately."
The mind is such a powerful tool to a healthy weight, yet equating food with a sense of reward can become problematic for many people, she said.
To cope with and recognize the emotional connection you have to food, Robinson recommends keeping a daily "food and mood" diary, where you look for unhealthy patterns. She also suggests identifying which foods you associate with comfort, positive memories, or stress relief - and asking yourself before you eat, "Am I eating this because I'm hungry?"
The end goal, she explained, is to remove the emotional attachment to food and to use it as nourishment, not as a coping mechanism.
"When we're focused on the physical aspects of weight loss, many of us have no problem joining a gym or hiring a trainer," she concluded. "How about joining a support group or hiring a psychologist?" she said. "If getting your body in shape hasn't worked out yet, maybe this time start with your mind."