Monika Kuzminskaitė on Food & Eating PsychologyHealth psychologist, with special love for food and eating mattersSome time ago
104: "Slim and happy" and other magical thoughts "I really want to lose weight, because then I would be able to..." something-something. Often it is - dress nicer, get compliments, find a (better) husband, job, friend, be promoted, start working out, get on the cover of the magazine or appear on TV show, earn my million. Then I will feel confident, happy, accomplished and fulfilled - anything, really. The future picture is so colorful, so beautiful, so inviting for embrace, that we do not really stop to consider how realistic are our goals are. You will feel better BECAUSE you will look better. Really? Well... statistics say - no. Here are two magic and completely incorrect thoughts: first, that when I will lose weight, everything will magically get better. Second - when I will lose weight, I will be able to do exactly the same as before (which led me to my current state), but I will not gain weight again because EVERYTHING WILL BE DIFFERENT. People usually overestimate the impact of their good looks on other people - and by quite a margin. OK, let's say you saw somebody really pretty on te street, a moment, two or three passed - did you offer him or her your heart, great career and all of your money? Oh, this is not how it works, but nobody really talks to people who are not pretty? Or only non-pretty people talk to other non-pretty people? And then pretty people live with pretty people, look at each other all day long, enjoy each other and need nothing else in their lives? While non-pretty people live with non-pretty people and need to put lots of effort every day into filling time with meaningful activities, culture, science, relationships and children? Well... Of course, I am making this more intense than it is on purpose. But really, how many doors do you truly believe beauty opens, if there is no colorful, smart, great personality to back it up? How long do you think you can ride on beauty alone? People set unrealistic goals (for example that they will stop arguing with themselves, will stop criticizing and scold themselves. In reality it is often the opposite - in attempt to look like they would like to, people put all personal and loaned effort into this, experience lots of anxiety, stress, fatigue and become meticulous observers and critics of themselves. There is no time to praise yourself because it is not "it" yet. And when this "it " will happen, then there will be no need to praise yourself, because then the magic of "it" will work, and everything will naturally be great. But the habit of pressuring yourself, criticizing and punishing yourself will not go away. Reasons to be unhappy about yourself will appear in most unexpected places, because you are already USED to do so. HAbit is like an old favourite shoe - comfortable and cozy, and doesn't let go easily. Especially, if you do not pay attention to it. When putting a lot of effort into losing X amount of weight, do not really learn skills to maintain the weight. Great efforts are justified because it is TEMPORARY, just for a short while, I can do this - and then it will be great ALL THE TIME. But you cannot deceive nature. If you will do as you did always, the results will be like they always are. If you change something only temporarily, changes will be temporary as well. Diet is not magic, it does not change your body which systematically and sincerely responds to everything that you do and you eat. Do you believe that it will not happen you, because you have magic powers, seven days of cabbage soup and you will be slim and happy forever after? Did you spend those seven days considering which food is valuable and which is comparable to drugs (because you eat it only to feel pleasure)? Or perhaps you were working on strengthening your skill of repeating "I am not limiting myself, I will eat everything that tastes good", which will definitely lead you to different place from the one you were already in? Or perhaps you secretly planned that this "sin atonement" in soup will give you licence to eat twice as many cakes and not suffer anymore? This is irony, intentional, cynical. Strong magic requires strong antidote. Finally, people put too much focus on looking good - and way too little effort on feeling good. Remember, the initial magic formula was - I will feel good because I will look good? But what steps did you take to develop and improve your well being? Did you start a positive diary? Did you try to learn to see both good and bad sides in everything? Did you try to improve your tolerance and empathy? Did you learn to rest and relax? Did you understand how to choose what is important and what is not? Or perhaps all that you did was more like a war plan where everything is focused on a single goal - lose X? Because that one deficiency, this one alone, will overwhelm everything else that could help you grow as a person and enlighten your soul? Hmm. When you achieve a great and important goal, you will probably experience a despair and a feeling of inner emptiness. Because "this is it". Something that you dedicated a lot of time and effort to, what defined you as a person - is suddenly gone. Who are you after you cross the finish line? While you were running - you were a runner, and after you finished? Who are you now? A person who weighs X? Brain dopamine (which helps to not give up while you are losing weight) is not there anymore, and your head experiences a hormonal drought. Yes, it is quite normal that when you achieve the goal, you become sad. And this is exactly the place where you will need a detailed and clear plan what will you do when you lose X. This is when the magic will be gone and a new beautiful phase will begin. Did you spend time planning and preparing for it? DO you have empty hangers and budget for your new clothes? Do you know what new job you will want, and are you ready to start doing it, when you will be noticed for your beauty? No? The beauty was supposed to take care of your skills as well?... On the other hand, if you know of this pitfall that happens right after you achieve your goal, then you can calmly expect it and just observe it. If you are not feeling well right now - it does not mean that you did not achieve something great and amazing just now. It only means that you are in a slight shock right now. It also does not mean that you must take on something else just to dive back into the river of most pleasant dopamine right away. Let your achievement sit peacefully under the tree for a while, and go back to it in a short while. You will definitely enjoy it. So.. am I against weight loss? God forbid. Healthy person and overweight are not really overlapping concepts. Do I overestimate the importance of health? Well, yes. I do enjoy bending and picking up a fallen chestnut or knowing how much the ticket to the other side of the world costs than being miserable about not being able to bend down and reach them or knowing what is the price of all the medicines that I need. I do enjoy focusing on other things than illnesses. Just that. I strongly believe that everyone is free to choose on what they spend their time. I am sure that after choosing unhealthy food and illnesses, people also can be happy. And I would really like to talk to them... Am I against the beauty? No way. I can spend hours in the forest or at the lakeside, I can always stare at the nice musculature of the person who is passing me (remnants of my work at the fitness club...) or graceful movements. Or beautiful language. Or sharp humour. It is a real magic that completely amazes me. But when I miss the real magic - I open Harry Potter or Earthsea books. That's where the real magic lives. My name is Monika, I am health and nutrition psychologist. I help to deal with daily and difficult questions about behavior, thinking, emotions. I write, teach and provide psychological counselling. Book my talk to ask more! Photo: Sanchez Lin from Pixabay #spoonfulofreason #psychology #losingweight #bodyweight #overweight #magic
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Monika Kuzminskaitė on Food & Eating PsychologyHealth psychologist, with special love for food and eating matters3 days ago
4: So where's psychology in eating? Short answer is - everywhere. Habits. Choices. "Must have" wishes. Holidays. Gifts. Punishments. Non-verbal feeling expressions. Image (vegans, also). Happiness and serotonin. What tastes good and what is healthy, also what is trendy. Science of nutrition, I suspect, is much more about psychology than about physiology. What we eat is most often NOT what body requires at the moment (even though we very often state that we have some kind of "energy boost", and this is why we crave for something sweet. "It's what the brain wants!"). Usually it is what we are used to eat. And habits is truly a meadow of psychology. Why do we have habits like we do is shaped by the culture, family traditions, significant events in our lives, significance that we assign to food and eating (compared to other activities), usual environment in which we eat - and the company of people, and a whole lot of other factors. By the way, we do not usually think about the reasons why we eat the way we do. If we choose from several alternatives (choice, again, is the field of psychology), the final decision is shaped by the opinions and attitudes, environment (fast food stand on the street or Italian white tablecloth restaurant?), time e dedicate for eating ("quick bite"?), your prediction about opinion of other people about your choice (including whether you care at all), knowledge about digestion and nutrition ("if I avoid gluten, my skin will be fabulous"...), automatic thoughts ("I will be very weak if I don't eat right now"), time we spend choosing... Decision not to choose or choose the same thing every time is also a decision! Food may be an important symbol and sign of well-being (Christmas roast, Sunday pancakes, coffee with friends or birthday cake). It also may be a lifelong punishment (like a crust on warm milk... "you are not going anywhere until you are finished with this!"), or a way to show special attention or enforce image (anything from mom's meatballs to Valentine's chocolates or desserts with diamonds). Childhood food leaves especially strong memories, and it consciously or unconsciously becomes our comfort (or punishment) food during times of distress (1). Even where physiology should rule, psychology still peeks from around the corner. After we eat fatty and sweet food (think ice cream), the brain rewards us with a dose of neuromediator serotonin (2, 3). At the same time we think - we are happy. And this happens every time, automatically, as if a button was pushed. And not really because we actually were short for something fat and sweet. So... think before you put anything in your mouth. And why. It's all in your head! My name is Monika, I am health and nutrition psychologist. I help to deal with daily and difficult questions about behavior, thinking, emotions. I write, teach and provide psychological counselling. Book my talk to hear load more about psychology in nutrition! Photo: Devanath from Pixabay #spoonfulofreason #psychology #eating #food ------------------------------------------------------------------ 1. If you are good you can have a cookie: How memories of childhood food rules link to adult eating behaviors: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Rebecca_Puhl/publication/8679359_If_you_are_good_you_can_have_a_cookie_How_memories_of_childhood_food_rules_link_to_adult_eating_behaviors/links/0c96052f38db04e424000000.pdf 2.Serotonin, Eating Behavior, and Fat Intake: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/j.1550-8528.1995.tb00214.x/pdf 3. You Are What You Eat: How Food Affects Your Mood: http://dujs.dartmouth.edu/2011/02/you-are-what-you-eat-how-food-affects-your-mood/#.WJoLPPl969I

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Monika Kuzminskaitė on Food & Eating PsychologyHealth psychologist, with special love for food and eating mattersSome time ago
We choose food most often (statistically speaking) based on taste. There is also another, a wider concept - food reward, which is composed of food taste, decreasing of hunger, created pleasure (liking of food) and perceived motivation to eat (wanting). Food reward is a driver of amount o food we eat and commonly thought to be related to obesity. But perhaps food liking and wanting are interacting with weight in different ways? People on a diet during this study had decreased food liking across all food categories, in one year after the study without any interventions - body weight was regained, appetit control weakened and food liking returned to initial level. Overweight women (when compared to normal weight women) did not want high fat/sweet food more, but they wanted low fat/sweet food less. Wanting low fat food was associated with improved appetite control and less fat mass, and wanting high fat food was associated with decreased appetite control and more fat mass. 👆 so, diets bring temporary results (we knew that, right?). If you want your eating method to be helpful in reaching your weight goal - make sure you choose the nicest words and definitions for your food (thus increasing your motivation), low-fat food in this case. Do not eve use anything that related to struggle, limitations, deprivation or similar. This is the expression of your utmost care and love for your body! My name is Monika, I am health and nutrition psychologist. I help to deal with daily and difficult questions about behavior, thinking, emotions. I write, teach and provide psychological counselling. Book my talk to know more about psychology and food entanglement! Study: https://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/29323/ Photo: Steve Buissinne from Pixabay #spoonfulofreason #psychology #food #eating #reward #wanting #motivation #pleasure

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Monika Kuzminskaitė on Food & Eating PsychologyHealth psychologist, with special love for food and eating mattersSome time ago
Well, I read this one with one eyebrow raised and kept thinking about the children who demand that their foods do not touch in the plate. But the research is not about them. After reading at least three times and thinking about it for a bit longer, it does make some sense. So, the research compares how people make assessments about the food that is served "separated" (all products in groups and not touching one another) or "mixed" (like in a salad or stew). - participants believe that "separated" food is less caloric, even if it obviously is (for example, fried snacks) - when eating "separated" food, participants eat more mindfully, they also believe that such food affects body weight more - when eating "separated" food participants also control the amount of the consumed food more - even though here I keep thinking of parties and rivers of snacks flowing freely across the tables and plates; it is possible to eat more of the snacks than to have more salad that you need a spoon or fork to eat... then again, research was done in the lab, not at the party. My conclusions are these. Whenever you can, eat with your hands (this is not part of this research, but you can control the amount of food you eat better, besides, you will get more pleasure out of eating). If possible - try eating food that is "separated" - not salads and stews, think poke bowls of buddha bowls direction. During parties (not fancy dinners, but talking and snacking parties) drink water, and if this does not sound like a plan - get yourself a plate for your portion of snacks, so you don't go foraging across the big platters. And, bon appetit! My name is Monika, I am health and nutrition psychologist. I help to deal with daily and difficult questions about behavior, thinking, emotions. I write, teach and provide psychological counselling. Book my talk to ask more! Research: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/joss.12647 Photo: Miu Sua on Unsplash #spoonfulofreason #psychology #food #eating #perception #calories

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