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A 'Mental Diet' for Weight Management



Getting healthy and losing weight is not an easy endeavor — especially, if you are not following a mental diet. So much energy and focus tends to go into the physical components of weight management, but the mental aspects are just as vital. I would like to propose a “Mental Diet” to go along with the physical aspects of weight management.

For Breakfast
The morning can be a critical compass to direct your focus for the day. Even if you are not a “morning person” that is full of energy, it is important is to start your day off with intention. This means that you will set aside time for self-care before too many responsibilities or distractions consume your morning. The morning is actually the best time for exercise or meditation, even if it is for five minutes, as you will have less excuses/distractions and more “willpower” in the morning. As the day progresses, we deplete our “willpower tank” which tends to result in an inability to tackle difficult tasks in the evening. So, the ingredients for a good mental breakfast include: At least five minutes of exercise or meditation, self-focus, gain insight and perspective on the day and start the day after taking care of yourself first.

For Lunch
It is important that you schedule time to break for lunch. If you are the type of person that gets busy and easily distracted, you will want to set an alarm to remind yourself to take a break. We are such as fast-paced society that we may not pay attention to how much and how fast we are eating. It’s not uncommon for people to engage in “mindless” eating while sitting at their desk, in front of the TV or driving — suddenly you realize that the food is gone and you have not paid attention to satiety. Instead of just go through the motions of putting food in your mouth, focus on eating slowly and truly paying attention to each bite and monitoring how we feel. The ingredients for a healthy mental lunch include: 15-30 minutes to recharge by refueling with a calm, mindful meal or shake.

For Dinner
You need to have a moment to digest the day. It is important to recognize that “emotional eating” and cravings may increase toward the end of the day. Unfortunately, you may have used most of the energy from your “willpower tank” and begin to want sweets or snacks after dinner. After a long day, “rewarding” yourself with unhealthy foods may sound like the perfect way to unwind. However, indulging in unhealthy foods will only leave you craving more and potentially feeling guilt and remorse. Instead of trying to “eat” your emotions, talk it out or journal your thoughts and feelings. As you prepare for sleep, limit your time with “screens” such as TV, phones and computers and start to focus on relaxation. So the healthy mental dinner includes: Reduce the mental weight of the day by writing down three things that went well for the day and if there is anything that you might need to do for the following day.

Behavioral change and extensive patient education materials are interwoven into all of Robard’s weight loss programs. If you’re a medical provider and would like more information, click here.

Blog written by Devin Vicknair, Ph.D., LPC, Behavioral Health Coordinator at Gwinnett Medical Center: Center for Weight Management.




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Is Food Your Friend or Enemy?




Frequently, patients tell me they want to “change their relationship with food.”  This lofty-sounding desire is often expressed after significant weight loss following a diet, after a life-changing event or during recovery from disordered eating. Some refer to it as making “peace” with food, as if they have been at war with it all their lives. And perhaps they have.

How we change that (food) relationship — or not — greatly depends upon how we view food. Merriam-Webster.com (medically) defines food as: “Material consisting essentially of protein, carbohydrate, and fat used in the body of an organism to sustain growth, repair and vital processes and to furnish energy.” Food is, first and foremost, the important fuel that keeps the body alive. So, it makes sense that quality “fuel” put into the body would produce a healthier-running organism.

But beyond being a source of macro and micro-nutrients, food also provides pleasure. Nature could have permanently provided us earthly inhabitants with some bland-tasting, gray-colored sustenance to meet our nutritional requirements for survival. Instead, nutrition is packaged in a plethora of delightful colors, smells, tastes and textures. Along with man-made food preparation methods, we now have a phenomenal multiplicity of choices. “Extreme variety” —with food available almost as soon as we can imagine it — is both a blessing and a curse. And one could argue that the availability of today’s super palatable convenience foods doesn’t help. So, we need to know how to reasonably combine nutrition and pleasure, calories and nutrient density. We need balance.

Next, if we want to truly improve our food relationship, we have to slow down, learn to savor and listen to our bodies. When we dismiss our bodies’ hunger signals (usually pretty discernable) and satiety signals (sometimes more like a whisper), our food behavior can move us quickly from starved to stuffed — neither of which is a positive or pleasurable experience. And while we also need to learn that mild hunger is not something to be feared (most of us are blessed enough not to experience food insecurity) our concern with seeking food and thoughts about food also should not interfere with daily life.

Lastly, food really needs to be food. It can’t substitute for or squelch our emotional expression on a regular basis. If our “default” is to eat when an emotion arises, we are no longer nourishing ourselves as intended. Food is not a persona — not our “friend” or our “enemy.” To put food back in its place, people often initially need some structure. Planning meals and snacks at regular intervals, eating a wide variety of plant foods, lean proteins, whole grains, healthful fats, drinking enough water and tracking intake are some sensible ways to start. And because food attitudes, just like emotions, can be contagious, having a good “food mentor” is not a bad idea.

So improving one’s food relationship — just like a relationship between people — involves the desire/willingness to change, which takes times and effort. There is no room for self-blame or blaming others for our personal food history because, as adults, we are each responsible for the food we put in our mouths. There is only room for learning and growing, one day at a time — one meal at a time. Sometimes we can do this on our own and sometimes, as with relationships, we need outside help. And it takes patience. But the rewards of improving one’s food relationship are very rich, and go beyond weight management to include health, a sense of gratitude, confidence, and a growing appreciation for nature. It’s never too late to start the process.


Blog written by By Rosemary Mueller, MPH, RDN, LDN, Advocate Medical Group — Advocate Weight Management



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3 Facts About Food Addiction




As the obesity epidemic continues to grow, more and more physicians are considering treatment. Obesity is recognized as a chronic disease by the American Medical Association, and even binge eating, which can lead to obesity, has been officially classified as an eating disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V).

As doctors work to find more effective ways to treat obesity, the underlying causes of weight gain are also being considered. While societal factors and lack of education on exercise and dieting certainly play a role, physicians should also consider even deeper causes of excessive weight in the individual, including food addiction.

Recent studies have begun to show that the pattern of weight loss and regain, combined with the inability to control eating habits, clinically presents like an addiction. The clinical presentation and symptom profile between substance abuse and food addiction is
well documented.

To learn a little more about food addiction, take a look at this infographic and download our free white paper on food addiction by clicking here.


Blog written by Vanessa Ramalho/Robard Corporation

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