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Mind-Body Connection & Weight Loss

Weight gain goes deeper than external stimuli and may reflect internal beliefs and thoughts. Learn how the mind-body connection can enhance both physical and mental health.

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The driving force behind weight gain is deeper than external stimuli and often reflects internal beliefs, impulses, and thoughts.

But by tuning into the subconscious mind, attentions can transpire into healthier behavior changes. This subsequently trickles into the health of the body and facilitates natural weight loss.

Before trying to clean up the diet or signing up for a gym membership, workout the mind with these tips!

The Mind and Weight Loss

The mind can be beneficial for achieving weight loss goals. However, enforcing a restrictive diet can be equally as detrimental.

Fixating with counting calories or losing a set amount of weight can be highly stressful and redirect weight loss efforts. This is especially true if going over allotted calorie limit or experiencing a weight loss plateau.

Instead of mentally obsessing over calories and weight, aim and strive to keep the mind and body in prime health. Reframing personal views on health and reevaluating goals can in turn promote natural weight loss.

Being more mindful and practicing mindful eating is useful to both physical and mental health.

Mindfulness & Mindful Eating

Being mindful is essentially a nonjudgmental awareness of the present moment. This awareness encourages individuals to make the most out of the situation at hand. In the context of food and nutrition, mindful eating is a nonjudgmental awareness of physical and emotional sensations while eating.

Mindful eating encourages individuals to recognize external motivators that drive behaviors to foods. Recognizing the smells, flavors, and textures of foods is also a strong foundation of mindful eating, in turn enhances food appreciation.

Nonetheless, mindful eating has helped individuals overcome food fears, disordered patterns, and weight-related barriers. It also cultivates a more positive relationship with food by promoting the notion of "all foods fit." The practice strips down the stigma of "unhealthy" or "bad" foods and incorporating all foods within the diet.

Individuals are also encouraged to eat based on internal cues of hunger and satiety. They should also recognize if eating resulted from a craving, also known as "head hunger."

Cravings vs. Hunger
Cravings are mostly built on both emotional and psychological motivations. True hunger occurs when food has not been consumed for more than a few hours. Hunger is also followed by physical effects, including a growling stomach and feelings of weakness.

Hunger persists until any sort of balanced meal or snack is consumed, while a craving can pass. Feeding into cravings is certainly okay and often advised to limit the risk of food binges from time-to-time. However, regularly succumbing to them may come full circle and cause physical and mental consequences.

Other Mind-Body & Weight Loss Tips

Weight can also be impacted by other factors related to mental and emotional health. These tips can help overcome mental barriers and lead to not only a healthy weight, but a healthier mind.

Combat Sleep Deprivation and Stress
In such a fast-paced society, sleep is often low and stress runs high. Unfortunately, the repercussions of sleep deprivation and chronic stress impacts overall well-being and quality of life.

The problem lies within the neuroendocrine system, which activates a series of hormones whenever feeling threatened. Such pressure can be beneficial amidst a flight-or-fight scenario. However, the ongoing release of stress-induced cortisol can be physically destructive.

When cortisol remains elevated, it may increase appetite and ultimately push us to eat more. And not to mention, food is often turned to as a coping mechanism, only driving and accelerating caloric intake. Stress can also start impacting sleep sufficiency, which only makes matters worse.

Inadequate sleep compromises the ability to think and ration properly. It also plummets energy levels, drives cravings towards sugar and fat-laden food sources, and runs the risk of weight gain.

Combat such negative consequences by practicing healthy stress management techniques. Cope with meditation and yoga, along with creating a healthy bedtime routine to facilitate a better night's rest consistently.

Dig Deep to Surface Negative Emotions
Underlying causes of negative emotions one may be enduring and facing, which may ultimately be impeding on health goals. Dig deep to surface these destructive influencers, as such feelings are likely to subside when managing the root of the cause.

For instance, being severely dissatisfied at work can tarnish energy and motivation. Simply talking with a boss or making a career change can ease negativity and develop a healthier lifestyle.

Be Around More Optimistic People
Swarming in a sea of pessimism can be mentally draining and physically harming. Start pulling the plug on and detaching from such negativity and be around more optimistic people.

A strong, supportive environment of family and friends can help boost mood and offer guidance or listening ear. Nonetheless, the positive energy can synergize efforts to a stronger mind-body connection.

Unleash Anxiety
Despite good intentions identified and created, fear and anxiety may hold one back from carrying out any sort of goals. In fact, constant worry may be confiding some to their comfort zone, including heading to the gym.

While it does require mental strength, unleashing such anxiety can release feelings of freedom and confidence in all facets of life.

Grant Self-Care
Self-care is vital to overall well-being and neglecting it can severely take a toll on mental and physical health. Granting self-care nurtures healthy relationships, boosts positive feelings, relieves stress, and improves self-confidence.

Focus on what the mind and body need consistently. This may include a day off work, jog to clear the mind, or journal to write down thoughts.

Written By Sydney Lappe, MS, RDN. Published on November 07, 2012. Updated on April 26, 2019.

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