‘Junk Think’ is a problem that many of us face when trying to successfully manage our weight. With so many diets, weight-loss regimes on the market, not to mention the advice (be it helpful or not) about managing our weight from friends and family, it’s no wonder our mind gets clouded with negative thoughts and ideas that leads to a misguided relationship with food.
To successfully manage your weight, leading psychologist Dr Louisa Hoey believes it’s important to recognise that it’s not always what we eat that affects our weight loss goals, but rather what we think.
Although we may not know it, we come across these negative thoughts about food every day, so in order to recognise and rectify these Junk Thinking habits, here are Dr Louise Hoey’s top tips:
1) Focus on the long term - if you are looking to lose weight and keep it off, be mindful that quick fixes won’t work and often will do more harm than good.
2) Let go of your rules – They say rules are made to be broken, but when we break our self-imposed food rules, we feel like a failure and probably turn to food for comfort - a very effective way to stack on unwanted kilos. Research commissioned by the Tony Ferguson Weight Management Program found that over half of all Aussies believe that self-discipline is extremely important when it comes to losing weight, however, the issues is not you and your self-discipline, it’s the rules themselves. Take 10 minutes to write down all the rules you have around food (e.g. no carbs in the evening, only eat sweets on the weekends) and now replace that rule with one new golden guideline: "I can have it if I want it but do I really feel like it".
3) Change the good and bad mindset - Thinking that certain foods are bad sets us up to feeling guilty when we eat them and feeds into the deprivation trap. It is healthier to think about how we use food. Eating take away pizza every night for dinner would be a bad use of pizza, but having pizza every now and then isn't bad for you. In addition, research by the Tony Ferguson Weight Management Program found that a desire not to waste food drives overeating in over a third of Australians. Replace mindsets like this by asking yourself “am I really still hungry or am I eating this because it is there?”
4) Keep a journal – look at what you eat and when, and what your thoughts and feelings were at the time of eating. Try to determine the triggers for any emotional eating. Being aware of these triggers will help you manage them! In time, you can learn to manage these emotions in ways other than by eating.
5) Don’t deprive yourself – research proves that if you prohibit certain foods, it will make you want them more! Let yourself eat foods that you love, but do it mindfully and make sure you check in with yourself first: "I can have it if I want it but do I really feel like it"
6) Seek the right support – If you want to lose weight, seek the right support, be it from friends, family, and/or experts in weight management, such as the Tony Ferguson Weight Management Program that helps people address their relationship with food and build healthy and realistic food habits for life.