6 ways your brain can help you lose weight

Your mind can be your most powerful asset when it comes to making positive lifestyle changes.

Written by Clare Collins

If you are determined to lose weight and make permanent changes to your lifestyle – when it comes to both food and exercise – your brain has to make a commitment to assist in being positive and enjoy the benefits of these changes.

Here are some tips for getting your head in the game.

1. If you think you can, you will. The most important step in losing weight is believing in yourself. You can conquer a weight problem. Give yourself time, and realise that your new attitudes and behaviours will take practice and continued attention. As they say, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ – there will be slips along the way, but your resolve has to be strong to overcome these and move forwards.

2. Never eat just to eat. You must feel hungry in your stomach. Analyse your hunger cues so that you are in tune with your body. Once you begin paying attention to how you are feeling before and after you eat, you can make changes in what and how much you eat according to your hunger.

3. Be conscious of what you are eating. Mindful eating means being aware of what and how much you are eating. Give yourself permission to sit down, focus on your food (or drink), eat slowly, chew your food, enjoy each mouthful and register when you are satisfied and stop eating.

4. Focus on the positive outcomes rather than just what the scales are telling you. You may be feeling happier with your food choices, your reduced alcohol intake, reduced portions, feeling better in your clothes, starting to exercise – all these things deserve recognition as they create continued motivation. Making permanent sustainable change is essential. Getting healthy is not an end goal. Life is not like that. It is about your mind helping you navigate the good times and the bad times. The goal is to be more knowledgeable about food, make healthy choices and enjoy food in the correct amount. A ‘bad’ day is just part of the journey – nothing more.

5. Identify your triggers. Everyone who is trying to lose weight has obstacles in their lives that can make achieving success difficult. Once you identify these personal challenges, you can develop a plan to overcome them. For instance, confrontation and family issues are common triggers. Using your anger or frustration as an excuse to eat is just a form of self-punishment – and what did you do to deserve that? Think of another outlet – exercising, bathing or telling people how you feel are better strategies.

6. Wake up every day and feel great – naturally! Exercise allows your brain to think more clearly, and the brain underpins your success. The more exercise you do, the faster you will see results, and the better you will feel both emotionally and physically.

Written by Clare Collins

Clare Collins is Professor of Nutrition and Dietetics and Deputy-Director of the Priority Research Centre in Physical Activity and Nutrition at the University of Newcastle. She has over 20 years' experience as a clinical paediatric dietitian. Visit No Money No Time to check how healthy your diet is and find quick, cheap and easy meal ideas.

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