Holistic weight-loss strategies

For psychologists, weight loss isn’t about strict dieting. Instead, they favor a holistic approach that addresses both body and mind.

Examples of the weight-loss strategies psychologists often recommend include:

  • Self-monitoring. One of the most effective tactics for reducing or managing weight is self-monitoring. That means systematically observing and recording what you eat or how much you exercise.

    You might use a journal to record everything you eat, for example. Or use a pedometer to make sure you take 10,000 steps a day.

    This approach works. In fact, several studies have found that consistent self-monitoring contributes to about a quarter of weight-control success.

  • Accentuated cognitive-behavioral therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is an approach that focuses on changing unhealthy patterns of thinking and behaving. Sometimes that’s not enough, however.

    Psychologists sometimes recommend an approach that combines cognitive-behavioral therapy plus a protein-heavy form of modified fasting, appetite-suppressing medication, antidepressants or even surgery.

  • Meditation. Meditation is more than just a stress-reliever. It may also help you lose weight, especially if you tend to binge.

    Meditation can help you become aware of how you use food to take care of emotional needs, say psychologists.

    More importantly, meditation can help make you a more mindful eater. Research has shown that individuals with eating problems generally aren’t paying attention to whether they’re actually hungry or full.

    “Mindfulness” exercises can help heighten your awareness of such cues and keep your mind focused on the experience of eating.

  • Positive messages about eating. When it comes to children, psychologists focus on preventing weight gain.

    Encouraging positive attitudes about eating is one key strategy they recommend to parents.

    Studies have shown that making children diet or restricting their intake can lead to unhealthy eating behavior and even weight gain later on.

    In one study, for example, researchers examined adults whose parents had used food to control their behavior when they were children. They were more likely than others to have struggles with binge eating and weight cycling as adults.