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How can a psychologist help you manage your weight?

Despite being experts in behavioural change, psychologists are sometimes overlooked as a professional resource to help people manage obesity or ongoing weight concerns. Psychologists can help individuals of any age and their families to control their weight  with personalised treatment plans that focuses on changing thoughts, attitudes and behaviour. Some people may have more complicated weight concerns with chronic disease, like diabetes often making weight management a challenge. Seeking help from a clinical psychologist can help you address any emotional difficulties relating to chronic illness that may be interfering with a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Psychologists commonly use cognitive behavioural therapy when treating a person who is struggling with their weight. This form of therapy helps the person address their thoughts and behaviours surrounding eating whilst addressing any underlying causes, like self-esteem issues or depressive disorders.

According to Kylie Ball, Research Fellow at the School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences at Deakin University, “Some of the most effective strategies for encouraging healthy living, exercise and positive eating habits come from CBT” (Australian Psychological Society; “Obesity: attaining positive outcomes” Rebecca Camilleri and Rebecca Mathews)

Many of the clinical psychologists at Psychology Consultants have specialised knowledge and experience in weight management and are committed to achieving long-term success for client’s who present with these concerns. For more information on our team of Clinical Psychologists, visit the Brisbane Psychologists page of our website.

How to practice Mindful Eating

Mindful eating is nothing new, its just that our fast pace lifestyles have stolen the time we use to give to sitting down to a set table and really enjoying  and appreciating our food. Its something our grandparents and great grandparents would have done naturally. So why is mindful eating ‘a thing’ and what are the real benefits of mindful eating?

Mindful eating stems from the Buddhist practice of mindfulness and is just one of the ways we can practice this age old way of being. When food use to be used to satisfy hunger and nourish the body, our modern world has transformed food into a great love affair and for some causes trouble relationship with food.

So, what is mindful eating and how can we start making it part of our daily existance?

Mindful eating is eating with intention and attention. That sounds very simple but eating without distraction can be difficult with phones, emails and the demands of daily life.

Some basic ways to start encouraging mindful eating include:

  • Being aware of your physical cues vs emotional cues. In short, eat when you are hungry not when you are tired, emotional or have ‘3:30itis’
  • Fulfil your emotional needs with something other than food, this might be a walk, a chat to a friend or something you consider personally indulgent.
  • Enjoy your food, think about the connection you have with it, where it came from and how it is going to nourish your body.
  • Eat distraction free, turn off your phone, TV or other distractions that you can control and try to focus on the taste, smell and feel of the food as you eat it.

Applying these tactics daily will foster a healthier relationship with food and provide a myriad of other health benefit.


Breaking Christmas Bads

By Kathryn Smith , Clinical Psychologist

With the excessiveness of the festive season a distant memory (except for those pants that no-longer fit) and the calendar diary looking fresh and inspiring, most of us take the time to reflect, look forward and set goals for the year ahead. Interestingly (and maybe a direct correlation with said festive cheer) statistics show that ‘weight loss’ ranks as the number one New Year’s resolution.

So why do we set this goal, year after year, and why do we so often fall short of achieving it?

Perhaps this is because our weight loss goals are slightly unrealistic? Commencing a hardcore exercise regime whilst eating gluten free, carb free, organic salads might be difficult to maintain unless you are an elite athlete or live with ‘The Commando’.

So here are are some tips from Clinical Psychologist, Kathryn Smith, on how to keep your New Year’s resolution going strong.

    1. Practice Mindful Eating. What does this actually mean I hear you ask? Try observing the textures, taste, smell and even sound, enjoy and savour the food. The more you observe, often the more satisfied you feel.
    2. Break Bad Eating Habits. A phrase you will often hear from the mouth of a child is: “I’m hungry” when a lot of the time they are actually bored and not in fact hungry. Well… adults do this too. So next time you find yourself staring into the pantry, ask yourself’ “Are you actually hungry?”
    3. Sit Down to Eat. Avoid eating on the fly. Sit down, put down your phone and make a proper experience out of eating, you might find you enjoy the food and count the meal as one.
    4. Weigh up your options. If you are unsure of the caloric value of what you are about to devour, look it up, as often this information is quite enlightening and can clarify a source of previously discounted kilojoules. Don’t mistake fat free or gluten free for being kilojoule free!
    5. Check in with reality. It sounds hideous but a weekly weigh in will help keep you on track, it’s hard to know how you are doing without a set of scales or a measuring tape.
    6. Wait and See. Research indicates that it takes on average 15-20 minutes for the stretch receptors in our stomach to send a message of satiety to our brain. So before you rush off for a second helping, maybe wait and see.
    7. Be Kind to Yourself. Take a self compassionate viewpoint and be aware of your self-talk. Gently encourage yourself as you would a friend if you make some poorer choices or do not have the expected weight loss. Avoid the “all or nothing approach” as many people will give up their new regime as soon as they have missed something.

Despite being experts in behavioural change, psychologists seem to be overlooked as a resource for weight loss management. However, by using cognitive behavioural therapy, a psychologist can help patients address their thoughts and behaviours surrounding eating whilst addressing any underlying causes, like self-esteem issues or depressive disorders.

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