For some of us, losing those few extra kilo’s can prove more challenging than we think. And that’s because food is more than just our source of nutrition. In fact, there’s an entire psychology behind our everyday eating habits.
The point is, losing weight involves more than just changing your eating habits. You need to change your mindset and that’s the hard part about losing weight. The constant struggle to resist cravings; the willpower to refuse that extra slice of pizza.
Fortunately, once you change the way you think about food, it will be way easier for you to adopt healthy eating habits.
Here are seven psychological reasons why you might be struggling to lose weight:
#1 Emotional eating
If you eat in response to your negative feelings – especially when you’re not hungry – then emotional eating might be the reason why you’re not losing weight. This means that your emotions, and not your body, dictate your eating behaviours.
Emotional eating is a form of self-sabotage that limits your control over dieting and eating behaviours. When reaching severe cases, it can lead to obesity and other life-threatening conditions. In fact, recent studies indicate emotional eating might be a marker for atypical depression.
If you tend to engage in unhealthy eating habits as a response to stress and unpleasant emotions, perhaps body image & weight loss counselling might be the answer. By training your mind to become aware of how emotions can influence your eating behaviours, you can start looking for ways to cope with stress without resorting to comfort food.
#2 Mindless eating
Another reason why losing weight can be extremely challenging is mindless eating.
We live in a world where time is money and 24 hours a day isn’t enough to cover our tight schedule. As a result, we often tend to eat on-the-go, stuffing ourselves with whatever we can find at the nearby food cart.
In other words, eating is no longer a moment of calm when we enjoy some well-deserved nourishment, but something we do between tasks. Unfortunately, this unhealthy eating habit can result in weight gain. And that’s because, just like in the case of emotional eating, we’re not in control of ourselves so we end up eating more than we need.
As a rule of thumb, having a meal should be a separate activity in your busy schedule. So, get off your desk, put away your smartphone, and enjoy your meal mindfully.
#3 Lack of self-confidence
When you’re dealing with weight problems for a long time, there’s a good chance you might be dealing with self-esteem issues as well. It’s not uncommon for people with a few extra kilo’s to feel self-conscious about their body. Not to mention the internalised weight stigma that causes tons of distress for which comfort eating is often the unhealthy coping mechanism people resort to.
On top of that, one failed diet attempt after another can seriously affect your self-confidence often leading you to believe losing weight is an impossible task.
And that’s why experts often recommend acceptance as the first step towards healthier eating habits that will help you stay in tip-top shape.
#4 Irrational beliefs about weight loss
As you probably know, when it comes to losing weight, the way you perceive food, and eating in general, plays a vital role. If you believe losing weight is impossible or food is your only source of comfort, you won’t feel motivated enough to implement healthy eating habits.
Once again, it’s not always about eating less but changing your beliefs about food and weight loss. When you begin to see food as merely a source of nourishment, you will no longer use it to ‘comfort’ your unpleasant emotions. When you begin to understand that losing weight is challenging but not impossible, you will adopt healthier eating habits and those extra kilo’s will vanish in no time.
#5 Lack of motivation
Before you decide to lose those extra kilo’s, the first question you need to ask yourself is – Why do I want to lose weight?
Is it because you want to be more attractive? Is it because you’re preoccupied with your health? What is it that motivates you to adopt healthier eating habits?
Lack of motivation is one of the most common obstacles when trying to lose weight. And that’s mainly because the benefits that result from implementing healthy eating habits occur after a couple of weeks of ‘clean’ eating.
If you wish to stay motivated, make sure to remind yourself why you wish to lose weight. Focus on the result of these positive changes, every time you think about cheating on your diet. It’s all about patience and discipline. As soon as you notice the first positive changes, your motivation will skyrocket.
#6 Unrealistic beauty standards
We live in a society characterised by strict beauty standards. From an early age, we are taught that physical beauty is a symbol of success and high social status. We ‘worship’ beauty bloggers by following their social media posts and we dream of a taller, slimmer, or curvier version of ourselves.
However, we can’t blame society for the way we perceive beauty. We can’t even blame the beauty “experts” who promote unrealistic beauty standards. But what we can do is take responsibility for the way we perceive beauty.
When you accept the fact that beauty can come in all ‘shapes and sizes,’ you cease to set yourself for failure by trying to achieve impossible beauty standards. You’ll be amazed to see how easy it is to lose weight once you accept your body.
#7 Negative body image
The way you choose to see your body dictates the way you treat it. In other words, it’s impossible to motivate yourself to adopt healthy habits, if you keep telling yourself you’re ugly beyond repair and no matter how hard you try you will never be beautiful enough.
Before you make any changes to your day-to-day eating habits, focus on fixing your relationship with your body. That means, learning to see yourself as a perfectly imperfect human being – with qualities, defects, and a whole array of physical and psychological aspects that you can improve. Remember, it’s not about being perfect, it’s about improving yourself one step at a time.
Overall, there are many psychological factors that can influence weight gain and weight loss. If you wish to lose weight, start by accepting yourself just the way you are. Once you’re in a positive mood, those extra kilo’s will soon be history.