The Psychology of Weight Loss: Distractions

whey proteinEffective long term fat loss is achieved by abandoning the typical Western diet and instead consuming a high quality diet based on traditional eating practices. Such practices include a diet based on high quality sources of protein, fruits, vegetables, dairy, whole grain cereals and adequate fibre and micronutrients. For those that are relatively new to a high quality non-Westernised diet, it may at first be difficult to maintain the discipline needed to follow these eating practices. Western foods can be addictive and many find it hard to abandon the diet for this reason. As well as unlearning old tastes and behaviours associated with the Western diet, there are almost unlimited distractions that are present that interrupt the sometimes careful preparation and clarity of thought required to follow a high quality diet. Distractions come in a number of forms, and can be subjective in their nature. Understanding and being able to cope with distraction is therefore paramount in fat loss is going to be successful over the long term.

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Saying focussed on the specific fat loss goals that have been set is important. Be prepared for distractions and learn to ensure that they do not affect your healthy eating routine.

General life stress is a particularly insidious source of distraction as modern living induces large stress responses in individuals and this can drive people to consume comfort foods. Refined carbohydrates are comforting foods because they can cause the release of large amounts of insulin, and this has the effect of increasing the synthesis of serotonin in the brain. Having the discipline to avoid refined carbohydrates is therefore important, but is only part of the solution. Avoiding stress is paramount and although it is not alway possible, there are ways that the effects of stress can be minimised. Being physically fit has been shown to reduce the impact of stress, as it build resistance to the effects of general stress reaction. The effects of chronic stress can include neurotransmitter depletion in the brain, a condition whereby the brain runs out of the amino acids used to manufacture the chemicals released during periods of stress. Consuming amino acids like L-tyrosine and L-tryptophan can prevent neurotransmitter depletion.

Meditation is a useful technique that can be used to overcome stress. Studies show that those who meditate, or perform simple breathing exercises can significantly reduce the effects of stress. Meditation is also a great way to incorporate visualisation into a daily routine and this can reinforce positive habits and behaviours that allow fat loss goals to be more successful. Visualisation is particularly useful if a known distraction such as a wedding or family celebration is planned. Such events can make it very difficult to maintain healthy eating, and some individuals with active social lives may find such distractions are a regular occurrence. Learning strategies to allow healthy eating to continue are important. Restaurants or event management companies for example will usually accommodate healthy eating requests. Families will also usually be supportive of dietary practices, and so making them aware and using visualisation to prevent too much consumption of low quality foods at such events should be encouraged.

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Fruit is an very effective way to ensure that you alway have high quality food available. Nuts and seeds can also be carried with you in a bad and eaten when only low quality foods are available.

Work can also be a large distraction. Work colleagues will generally have poor diets and those who have not specifically educated themselves will be unaware of what good nutrition actually is. Preparing your own food is pivotal in a work situation where access to healthy food is not available. Most workplaces have access only to low quality foods from cafes, vending machines or specialised catering, and these can be a constant distraction to those trying to maintain healthy eating practices. If the smell of such foods is a distraction, take your lunch and eat it elsewhere. Make sure that enough high quality food is consumed so that you are not left hungry around such distractions and possible temptations. If work colleagues offer you low quality foods such as cake or biscuits, politely refuse. If they try to twist your arm make it clear that you will not change your mind. The important thing is to stay focussed and to not lose sight of your ultimate goal, taking each day as it comes and avoiding distractions.


About Robert Barrington

Robert Barrington is a writer, nutritionist, lecturer and philosopher.
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