YOURS (UK) - - Feeling Great -

‘That need for food isn’t a fact, it’s just a thought and a thought can’t make you do any­thing’

If you want to shift your mind­set and those pounds long term, then the first step is to ac­cept that there is no quick fix. “Go­ing on a short-term diet will never be a long-term so­lu­tion,” says Dr Ja­fari. “The only last­ing so­lu­tion is to have a healthy pat­tern of eat­ing that you can live by.”Take the time to un­pick your emo­tional eat­ing habits and you’ll find los­ing weight much eas­ier.

Step 1 Be aware of your plea­sure seeker

“There’s a part of your brain I like to call the ‘plea­sure seeker’,” says Dr Ja­fari. “It’s the bit of your brain that tells you that you need a bar of choco­late at 10pm, it wants a short-term hap­pi­ness hit and it wants it now. Un­for­tu­nately, it’s pretty hard to shut that lit­tle voice off, but there are ways to make it qui­eter.”When you hear that lit­tle voice telling you to grab that sec­ond help­ing, lis­ten to it and then pause for a mo­ment. Recog­nise that it is just a thought. That need for food isn’t a fact, it’s just a thought and a thought can’t make you do any­thing.

Step 2 Make a con­scious de­ci­sion

Once you’re aware that the plea­sure-seek­ing part of your brain ex­ists, you can start to ques­tion it. “When it starts to make a noise ask your­self what your cur­rent goal is and whether eat­ing some­thing now is ac­tu­ally worth it,” says Dr Ja­fari. “Some­times the an­swer will be yes, and at other times the an­swer will be no. The key is to take re­spon­si­bil­ity, make a con­scious choice and then ac­cept that de­ci­sion.” If you de­cide to eat the bis­cuit, then give your­self per­mis­sion to fully savour it. There’s no point in eat­ing some­thing and feel­ing bad about it. En­joy the food, but don’t ex­pect the plea­sure seeker to be quiet as a re­sult – he’ll likely be nag­ging you to eat an­other be­fore you’ve fin­ished swal­low­ing, so at some point you will need to say no.

Step 3 Be aware of true hunger

It can take a while to learn to dis­tin­guish be­tween phys­i­cal and emo­tional hunger. When you feel the need to eat some­thing out­side your nor­mal meal times, ask your­self if you’re re­ally hun­gry. If you don’t have any phys­i­cal symp­toms (see pre­vi­ous page) wait 10 to 15 min­utes to see if the crav­ing goes away. If you’re hun­gry you’ll feel hun­grier, if you’re eat­ing emo­tion­ally try to dis­tract your­self by go­ing for a walk, for ex­am­ple.

Step 4 Keep go­ing

“One of the big­gest mis­takes when try­ing to lose weight and keep it off is mak­ing rad­i­cal changes to eat­ing and ex­er­cise rou­tines that are un­sus­tain­able,” says Dr Ja­fari. “They change too much and then give up. You’ve prob­a­bly heard that it takes 21 days to form a habit, but it ac­tu­ally takes about 66 days.” Make small, sus­tain­able changes that you can stick with – a brisk five-minute walk ev­ery day, or tak­ing the long route home from the shops.

Step 5 Tell your­self you’re worth it

“Mak­ing healthy eat­ing and reg­u­lar ex­er­cise a pri­or­ity often in­volves giv­ing your­self per­mis­sion to pri­ori­tise your health and look after your­self too,” says Dr Ja­fari. “Women often put ev­ery­one else’s needs first, tend­ing to put their chil­dren, hus­bands, friends and even work above them­selves.” Set aside some time each week just for you, it will give you time to tackle your mind­set so you can look after your fu­ture health.

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