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    What is Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy?

    What is Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy or REBT?

    Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy, also known simply as REBT, is a type of psychotherapy and a philosophy of living created by the well-known and renowned psychologist Albert Ellis in the 1950s.

    Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy’s (REBT) roots are based on the concept that when we become upset, it is not the actual event taking place that upsets us, but rather the beliefs that we hold that cause us to become depressed, anxious, furious… and so on. In other words we are upsetting ourselves. Think of a recent example where you were upset or angry? What were you telling yourself about the situation? What were you ‘demanding’ of yourself…? Or someone else…?

    The idea that our beliefs upset us was first articulated by Epictetus around 2,000 years ago when he said: “Men are disturbed not by events, but by the views which they take of them.”

    The Goal of Happiness

    Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy

    According to Albert Ellis (pictured left) and Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), the vast majority of us want to be happy.

    Who wouldn’t? We all want to be happy whether we are alone or with others. We want to get along with others — especially with one or two close friends. We want to be well-informed and educated. We want a good job with good pay. We want to enjoy our leisure time…

    Unfortunately, as most of us know, life doesn’t always allow us to have what we want or go in the direction we would like.

    And life is so often ‘not fair’. Our goal of being happy is often compromised by, as Hamlet states so well, the ‘slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.’

    However, when our goals are blocked we still have a choice: we can respond in ways that are healthy and helpful, or we can react in ways that are unhealthy and unhelpful.

    Let’s take a closer look at what makes a belief, or a thought, healthy or unhealthy…

    The ABC Model in Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT)

    Albert Ellis and REBT suggest that our reaction to having our goals blocked (or even simply the possibility of having them blocked) is determined by our beliefs. To illustrate this, Dr. Ellis developed a simple ABC format to teach people how their beliefs cause their emotional and behavioural responses:

    A. Something happens.
    B. You have a belief about the situation.
    C. You have an emotional reaction to the belief.

    For example:

    A. Your employer falsely accuses you of taking money from her purse and threatens to fire you.
    B. You believe, “She has no right to accuse me. She’s a bitch!”
    C. You feel angry.

    If you had held a different belief, your emotional response would have been different:

    A. Your employer falsely accuses you of taking money from her purse and threatens to fire you.
    B. You believe, “I must not lose my job. That would be unbearable.”
    C. You feel anxious.

    The ABC model shows that A does not cause C. It is B that causes C. In the first example, it is not your employer’s false accusation and threat that make you angry; it is your belief that she has no right to accuse you, and that she is a bitch. In the second example, it is not her accusation and threat that make you anxious; it is the belief that you must not lose your job, and that losing your job would be unbearable.

    The Three Basic Musts

    Although we all express ourselves differently, according to Albert Ellis and Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), the beliefs that upset us are all variations of three common irrational beliefs. Each of the three common irrational beliefs contains a demand, either about ourselves, other people, or the world in general. These beliefs are known as The Three Basic Musts.

    1. I must do well and win the approval of others for my performances or else I am no good.
    2. Other people must treat me considerately, fairly and kindly, and in exactly the way I want them to treat me. If they don’t, they are no good and they deserve to be condemned and punished.
    3. I must get what I want, when I want it; and I must not get what I don’t want. It’s terrible if I don’t get what I want, and I can’t stand it.

    The first belief often leads to anxiety, depression, shame, and guilt. The second belief often leads to rage, passive-aggression and acts of violence. The third belief often leads to self-pity and procrastination. It is the demanding nature of the beliefs that causes the problem. Less demanding, more flexible beliefs lead to healthy emotions and helpful behaviors

    Disputing

    The goal of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) is to help people change their irrational beliefs into rational beliefs. Changing beliefs is the real work of therapy and is achieved by the therapist disputing the client’s irrational beliefs. For example, the therapist might ask, “Why must you win everyone’s approval?” “Where is it written that other people must treat you fairly?” “Just because you want something, why must you have it?” Disputing is the D of the ABC model. When the client tries to answer the therapist’s questions, s/he sees that there is no reason why s/he absolutely must have approval, fair treatment, or anything else that s/he wants.

    Insight

    Albert Ellis and Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) contend that although we all think irrationally from time to time, we can work at eliminating the tendency. It’s unlikely that we can ever entirely eliminate the tendency to think irrationally, but we can reduce the frequency, the duration, and the intensity of our irrational beliefs by developing three insights:

    1. We don’t merely get upset but mainly upset ourselves by holding inflexible beliefs.
    2. No matter when and how we start upsetting ourselves, we continue to feel upset because we cling to our irrational beliefs.
    3. The only way to get better is to work hard at changing our beliefs. It takes practice, practice, practice…

    Acceptance

    Emotionally healthy human beings develop an acceptance of reality, even when reality is highly unfortunate and unpleasant. REBT helps you develop three types of acceptance: (1) unconditional self-acceptance; (2) unconditional other-acceptance; and (3) unconditional life-acceptance. Each of these types of acceptance is based on three core beliefs:

    Unconditional self-acceptance:

    1. I am a fallible human being; I have my good points and my bad points.
    2. There is no reason why I must not have flaws.
    3. Despite my good points and my bad points, I am no more worthy and no less worthy than any other human being.

    Unconditional other-acceptance:

    1. Other people will treat me unfairly from time to time.
    2. There is no reason why they must treat me fairly.
    3. The people who treat me unfairly are no more worthy and no less worthy than any other human being.

    Unconditional life-acceptance:

    1. Life doesn’t always work out the way that I’d like it to.
    2. There is no reason why life must go the way I want it to
    3.  Life is not necessarily pleasant but it is never awful and it is nearly always bearable.

    Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) Today

    Clinical experience and a growing supply of experimental evidence show that REBT is effective and efficient at reducing emotional pain and is particularly effective for treating anxiety disorders. When Albert Ellis created Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) in the 1950s he met with much resistance from others in the mental health field. Today, it is one of the most widely-practiced therapies throughout the world. In the early days of REBT, even Dr. Ellis did not clearly see that consistent use of its philosophical system would have such a profound effect on the field of psychology or on the lives of the millions of people who have benefited from it.

    Demons on the Boat

    Imagine you’re steering a ship far out to sea. Below the deck, out of sight, lies a vast horde of demons, all with enormous claws and razor-sharp teeth.

    These demons have many different forms. Some of them are emotions, such as guilt, anger, fear or hopelessness. Some are memories of times you’ve failed or been hurt. Others are thoughts like “it’s too hard,” or “I’ll make a fool of myself,” or I’ll fail.” Some of them are mental images, in which you see yourself performing badly or getting rejected. Others are strong urges to drink too much, smoke, harm yourself, or overt. And still others are unpleasant sensations, such as tightness in your chest, or a knot in your stomach.

    Now, as long as you keep that ship drifting out to sea, the demons will stay below. But as soon as you start steering toward land, they clamber up from below deck… flapping their wings, baring their fangs and generally threatening to tear you into little pieces. Unsurprisingly, you don’t like that very much, so you cut a deal… “If you demons stay below deck, out of sight, I’ll keep the ship drifting out at sea.” The demons agree, and everything seems OK… for a while…

    The interesting thing is. although these demons threaten you, they never actually cause you any physical harm. Why not? Because they can’t! All they can do is growl and wave their claws and look terrifying — physically they can’t even touch you. And once you realise this, you’re free. It means you can take your ship wherever you want — as long as you’re willing to accept the demon’s presence. All you have to do to reach land is accept that the demons are above deck, accept that they’re doing their very best to scare you and keep steering the ship toward shore.

    The demons may howl and protest, but they’re powerless because their power relies totally on your belief in their threats.

    But if you’re not willing to accept these demons, if you’ve got to keep them below deck at all costs, then your only option is to stay adrift, at sea. Of course, you can try to throw the demons overboard, but while you’re busy doing that no one is piloting the ship, so you run the risk of crashing into the rocks or capsizing. Besides that, it’s a struggle you could never win, because there’s an infinite number of those demons in the hold.

    “But that’s horrible!” you may well protest. “I don’t want to live surrounded by demons!!” Well, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you already are… And those demons will keep showing up, again and again, as soon as you start to take your life in a valued direction.

    Now, here’s the good news: if you keep steering your ship toward shore (no matter how much the demons threaten you), many of them will realise they’re having no effect and will give up and leave you alone. As for the ones that remain… after a while you’ll get used to them. And if you take a good, long look at them, you’ll realise they’re nowhere nearly as scary as they first appeared.

    You’ll realise they’ve been using special effects to make themselves look a lot bigger than they really are. Sure, they’ll still look ugly… they won’t turn into cute fluffy bunnies, but you’ll find them much less frightening. And you’ll find that you can let them hang around without being bothered by them. And in any case, as you continue on that voyage you’ll find it’s not just demons that turn up… there are also dolphins, angels and mermaids!

    And it doesn’t matter how far away from shore you are. The instant you start heading towards it, you’re living life… you’re having an adventure… you’re moving in a valued direction. As Helen Keller said: “Life is a daring adventure, or nothing at all…”

    A variant of Passengers On The Bus – The Happiness Trap – Dr. Russ Harris, M.D.

    Categories: behavioural psychology

    Control What You Can and Ignore The Rest

    I’m sure you’ve heard the Serenity Prayer? It goes like this:

    “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference.”

    Reinhold Nieburh came up with it around 1934. The Stoics were preaching that basic idea… oh… about 2000 years earlier.

    The Stoics were really big on control. But they weren’t control freaks at all. A key part of Stoicism is just asking yourself: “Can I do anything about this?”

    If you can, do it. If you can’t… then you can’t. But worrying achieves nothing but stress.

    What the Stoics are saying is so much of what worries us are things that we have no control over. If I’m doing something tomorrow and I’m worried about it raining and ruining it, no amount of me stressing about it is going to change whether it rains or not. The Stoics are saying, “Not only are you going to be happier if you can make the distinction between what you can change and can’t change but if you focus your energy exclusively on what you can change, you’re going to be a lot more productive and effective as well.”

    Here’s a quick visual to help get the point across:

    So, next time you’re worrying, pause and ask yourself: “Do I have control over this?” If you do, stop worrying and get to work.

    If you don’t have control, worrying won’t make it better. And going back to the first point, it might be a good idea to ask yourself what your belief is that’s causing all this worry… Yup, it’s probably irrational.

    So sadness, anger and worrying are irrational responses and they’re not the right way to react when things happen. So what is the right way to react to stuff that doesn’t meet your expectations?

    Accept Everything — But You Don’t Have To Be Passive

    This is the bit everybody has trouble with. Nobody likes the word ‘accept’ — we think it means ‘give up’ — but it doesn’t.

    Let’s look at it this way: what’s the opposite of accept? Deny. As in ‘denial’ — and nobody ever recommends denial.

    Albert Ellis told people they’d be much happier if they removed the word ‘should’ from their vocabulary. ‘Should’ is denial. You’re saying your expectations deserve to override reality:

    • “My kids shouldn’t be misbehaving!” (News flash: they are)
    • “Traffic shouldn’t be this bad!” (Um, but it is)
    • “It shouldn’t be raining!” (Say it louder — complaining might work this time…)

    Denial is irrational, and as we just learned, irrational beliefs are where negative emotions come from. So the first step is to accept reality. But that doesn’t mean you have to be passive.

    You accept the rain. It’s here. Denial and shoulds won’t change anything… but that doesn’t mean you can’t grab an umbrella.

    Acceptance to us means resignation but to the Stoics it meant accepting the facts as they are and then deciding what you’re going to do about them. The problem is that because we have expectations about how we want things to be, we feel like acceptance is settling, when in reality we have no idea what could have happened instead. This awful thing might have saved us from something much worse. Or maybe this is going to open us up to some new amazing opportunity that we can’t yet conceive. The Stoics are saying, “Let’s not waste any energy fighting things that are outside our control, let’s accept them, let’s embrace them and then let’s move on and see what we can do with it.”

    So, next time things don’t go your way, don’t deny reality. Accept it. It’s here. Then ask if you have control over it. If you do, do something. If you don’t, ask if your beliefs are rational.

    That’s how you go from: “It shouldn’t be raining! We can’t go to the park! The day is ruined!” to “Yeah, it’s raining. No park today. Let’s watch an awesome movie.”

    Alright, we’ve covered a lot of Stoic methods for beating bad feelings. That covers defense. Let’s talk offense. In the next article we’ll look at how you can improve your life…

     

    Events Don’t Upset You — Your Beliefs Do

    events and beliefs

    We all like a bit of ancient wisdom. But how many of us have actually read any of the Classics? How ancient wisdom, the Stoics and Albert Ellis can help you

    The funny thing is, we’re more likely to live happier lives if we visit the classics section of the book store than the self-help aisle. So, if we don’t read the classics, how can we learn what one group of brilliant dead blokes —The Stoics — had to say? Well, let’s have a go…

    Events Don’t Upset You — Beliefs Do

    So, you get dumped by someone you’re totally in love with. Feel sad? Yes. The world feels like it’s going to end. I think we’ve all been there… Let’s move on… Same scenario, but afterwards you find out that person was actually a psychopath who killed their last three partners. Feel sad you got dumped? No, you’re thrilled…

    So, clearly getting dumped isn’t the important issue here. What’s changed? Actually, nothing other than your beliefs.

    If you lose your job and you believe it was a lousy job anyway, and you also believe it won’t be hard for you to get a better job, you’re likely not going to be too bothered.

    However, if you believe it was the greatest job ever and believe you’ll never get another one that good — you’re devastated. Emotions aren’t random. They follow from beliefs.

    So, let’s move on to the Stoics. They believed there are no good or bad events, there’s only perception. Shakespeare put it well when he said: “Nothing is either good nor bad but thinking makes it so.” What Shakespeare and the Stoics are saying is that the world around us is indifferent, it is objective. The Stoics are saying: “This happened to me,” is not the same as, “This happened to me and that’s bad.” They’re saying if you stop at the first bit, you will be much more resilient and much more able to make some good out of anything that happens to you.

    Does this sound too simple? Well, yes, actually it is that simple. But this philosophy is what led renowned psychologist Albert Ellis to develop Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy (or REBT) which was the first form of the more-widely known Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) pioneered by Aaron Beck and now well accepted as one of the most effective treatments for depression, anxiety and other disorders, including disordered eating.

    Most Bad Feelings Are Caused by Irrational Beliefs

    Next time you’re feeling negative emotions, don’t focus on the event that you think ’caused’ them. Ask yourself what belief you hold about that event. And then ask yourself if it’s rational:

    • “If my partner dumps me, I’ll never get over it.”
    • “If I lose my job, my life is over.”
    • “If I don’t finish reading this post, the writer will hate me forever.”

    Only the third one is true. The other two are irrational. And that’s why you get anxious, angry or depressed.

    Revise your beliefs and you can change your feelings: “Even if I lose my job, I can get another one. It’s happened before and I was fine.”

    So, you’re revising your beliefs to overcome sadness and anger. Great. But what about when you’re unhappy because you’re worried about the future?

    In the next article, Control What you Can and Ignore the Rest, we’ll look at the Serenity Prayer, the Buddhist angle and more about the Stoics…

     

    Thinking About Food

    The more we learn about the different aspects of hunger we sometimes mistakenly begin to think of “Mind Hunger” as something that is a problem.

    Mind Hunger (as it’s come to be defined) is composed of thoughts about food and eating. For example:

    • Numbers such as: “ One slice of cheddar cheese has 113 calories.”
    • Facts such as: “One egg has more than your daily requirement of cholesterol.”
    • Instructions such as: “ You have got to stick to your diet. Do not eat anything that contains white sugar or white flour!“
    • Fears such as: “If you eat too much cholesterol you might have a stroke or heart attack.”
    • Criticism: If your Inner Critic creeps in, the thoughts in your mind about food and eating can take a very unpleasant and even destructive turn, such as: “You broke your diet by eating a piece of your niece’s birthday cake — you’re a hopeless failure.”

    When Mind Hunger takes charge, it can become a problem. This seems to happen when people lose connection to their internal sources of information about hunger and rely instead on external sources of control such as diets, calorie counting and frequent weight checks.

    Minds like Information

    Our minds “feed on” scientific and medical information. We like hearing about the latest research on healthy or unhealthy foods. However, that information is always changing. Eggs were ‘good’ during my childhood, but when I was studying nutrition they became ‘bad’ because they contain cholesterol.  Now they’re labeled ‘good’ again, because they are an inexpensive source of protein and don’t actually raise serum cholesterol. When information about what is healthy changes, our minds can become chronically anxious about eating. And anxiety is not nourishing — not for our minds, bodies or hearts. Additionally, when we feel anxious, we may think we are hungry, since anxiety and hunger share many of the same physical and mental symptoms. We may feel anxious so we eat… then we feel more anxious for eating inappropriately… so we eat more… and on and on!

    When our minds orient toward an external locus of control, it tends to pull us away from the valuable sources of wisdom within our own body.  But this doesn’t mean that our minds should be ignored. Diabetics, for example, may be able to detect the sensations in the body that occur when their blood sugar drops — an aspect of what is sometimes called Cellular Hunger.  Then it is essential that they listen to what their mind says about the sensations that signal hypoglycemia, and follow that advice: “We need to get some sugar into our body now to avoid problems!”

    Our mind can also help us distinguish between real food and ‘food-like substances’, through intelligent reading of labels.  Our mind could also point out that we are going to have a very busy afternoon, and it’s not a good idea to skip lunch, and also remind us that we can eat the first three bites mindfully, even if we have to eat the rest of lunch in a hurry.

    Balancing Mind and Heart

    Mindful eating is embedded in awareness. From overarching awareness we can check in to body sensations, assessing eye, nose, ear, touch, mouth, stomach and cellular hunger. We can check in with our mind to hear what it is saying, and also with our heart, for emotional cues related to hunger. Taking all this information into account, from awareness we can choose what to eat and how much to eat. Awareness brings choice, and choice brings freedom, freedom to enjoy the simple pleasure of nourishing ourselves.

    Can you think of other examples of when your mind can be helpful as you shop, cook and eat mindfully?

    As you practice assessing the nine hungers before eating, are you able to better balance what the mind says about food and eating with the physiologic cues that come from your body?

    Categories: Anxiety, Mindfulness

    Top Ten Psychosomatic Symptoms

    headacheThe origin of a psychosomatic illness is within the brain.


    The illness is the brain’s attempt to throw a person’s consciousness off guard by inducing physical changes in the body, in order to prevent the person from consciously experiencing difficult emotions, such as rage, sadness, and emotional distress.

    People with psychosomatic illnesses contribute millions if not billions of dollars to the medical industry in the form of various treatments, including operations, medications, physical therapy, etc. People can spend decades chasing down physical symptoms when the root causes of their problems are emotional. Many addiction rehab programs will be conducted in residential or inpatient settings. During this period, residents live at the facility and interact with their peers, therapists, and doctors. This allows for round-the-clock supervision and, when necessary, access to medical services. Such a level of care is especially appropriate for those who may have psychological dependencies that they need assistance with or co-occurring mental or physical health issues. Learn more what is inpatient rehab? Get more information on how it works here.

    The reality is that somatic symptoms are extremely common. Research has found that approximately one-third of all physical symptoms fall into this category. However, patients are not quick to accept or believe that their symptoms do not have an actual physical cause. Only about 15 to 20 percent of patients will accept such a diagnosis.

    To be technical, the proper term for psychosomatic illness, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is somatic symptom disorder. Medical Center Dental Group is a great example of a full service dentist’s office, offering both cosmetic and general dentistry services. The aim of orthodontist The Woodlands preventive care is to avoid gum disease, enamel wear, cavities, and other preventable dental conditions. Visit woodlandsorthodontist.com for more information. There is an overlap across the spectrum of somatoform disorders, and this designation helps reflect the complex interface between mental and physical health. Cure your skin rashes with the help of Iridesse Skin Care.

    What follows is a list of the ten most frequent somatic illnesses:

    1. Chronic Pain Syndrome
    2. Fibromyalgia
    3. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
    4. Gastrointestinal syndromes
    5. Migraine headaches
    6. Frequent need for urination
    7. Tinnitus and Vertigo
    8. Allergic phenomena
    9. Skin rashes (Eczema, hives, acne, etc.)
    10. Eating disorders

    References:

    American Psychiatric Publishing (2013). Somatic Symptom Disorder.  American Psychological Association Fact Sheet.

    DeAngelis, T. (2013) When symptoms are a mystery. American Psychological Association 44(7). P 66

    Sarno, J.E. (2007) The Divided Mind: The Epidemic of Mindbody Disorders. New York, NY:  Harper

    Sharie Stines, Psy.D

    Categories: behavioural psychology

    The Psychological Reason Diets Are Hard To Follow

    New study points to a radical new approach to dieting: choosing a diet you can actually enjoy!


    As every dieter knows, planning a diet and actually following through are two completely different things. A new psychological study reveals exactly why this is.

    The reason is that most people think their conscious thoughts and intentions will change their behaviour, when in fact they don’t.

    What really drives a lot of actual, real-world dieting behaviour is the emotions.

    Dr Marc Kiviniemi, a public health researcher at the University at Buffalo, explained:

    “The crux of the disconnect is the divide between thoughts and feelings. Planning is important, but feelings matter, and focusing on feelings and understanding their role can be a great benefit.

    If you’re sitting back conceiving a plan you may think rationally about the benefits of eating healthier foods, but when you’re in the moment, making a decision, engaging in a behavior, it’s the feelings associated with that behavior that may lead you to make different decisions from those you planned to make.”

    Weird diets which make you eat foods you don’t like or hardly any food at all are doomed to failure.

    Dr Kiviniemi continued:

    “First of all, the deprivation experience is miserable. If you didn’t associate negative feelings with it to start, you will after a few days. The other thing that’s important is the distinction between things that require effort and things that are automatic.

    Planning is an effort that demands mental energy, but feelings happen automatically. Deprivation or anything that demands a high degree of self-control is a cognitive process.

    If you put yourself in a position to use that energy every time you make a food choice that energy is only going to last so long.”

    Any potential diet should be centred around a radical approach: enjoying what you eat.

    Dr Kiviniemi said:

    “In the dietary domain, eating more fruits and vegetables is fabulous advice. But if you have negative feelings about those food choices, they might not represent elements of a good plan.

    It’s not just about eating healthy foods. It’s about eating the healthy foods you like the most.

    Think seriously about how you’re going to implement the plans you make to change your behavior, and that includes not only the feeling component, but how you plan to overcome a negative reaction that might surface during a diet.”

     

    Categories: behavioural psychology, health, Weight Loss

    Behaviour Key to Successful Weight Loss

    Behaviour key to successful weight lossBehaviour key to successful weight loss

    Learning about the nutritional value of food is not enough to achieve weight loss. Behaviour is key to successful weight loss.

    Learning to pay attention to your emotions is a more powerful weight-loss strategy than greater nutritional knowledge, a new study finds. 

    With obesity rates rising, many policy-makers argue that nutritional education will help people make better decisions.

    The new research, though, points to the greater benefits of learning to understand and respond to your own inner states over and above nutritional education.

    In one study, published in the Journal of Marketing Research, a group of people were given a nutritional knowledge course and they were taught to recognise basic emotions in both themselves and other people.

    A comparison group was given just the nutritional knowledge course.

    Part of the emotion training involved being presented with food products and asked to notice how this changed their own emotions, and those of other people.

    At the end of the training session participants were asked to choose a snack.

    Those who had had the emotion training were more likely to choose the healthier option.

    The reason the emotion training is so useful is that people generally find it hard to be objective and observe their emotions dispassionately.

    In another similar study reported in the same paper, people were followed over a three month period to see who lost weight.

    Those who had had the emotion training lost most weight in comparison to a control group, and in comparison to those who had received the nutritional knowledge course.

    Part of the reason the emotion training works is it breaks down an automatic link in people’s minds between foods being unhealthy and foods being tasty.

    Without this automatic link, and by recognising the emotions associated with certain foods, it’s easier to make more healthy choices.

    The study’s authors said:

    “Consumers are often mindless.

    We not only demonstrate that emotional ability is trainable and that food choices can be enhanced, but also that emotional ability training improves food choices beyond a nutrition knowledge training program.”

    They conclude:

    “With a better understanding of how they feel and how to use emotions to make better decisions, people will not only eat better, they will also likely be happier and healthier because they relate better to others and are more concerned with their overall well-being.”

    The Psychological Key to Weight Loss

    behavioural therapy

    No, it’s not exercise! Ninety percent of people ignore psychological well-being as a factor in weight loss

    Most of us think diet and exercise — especially exercise — is actually the key to weight loss.

    In fact lack of exercise is not the cause of obesity, it is too many calories,  refined carbs and too much sugar. This may explain why most people who manage to lose weight, soon put it straight back on.

    Dr Diane Robinson, a neuropsychologist at Orlando Health, said:

    “Most people focus almost entirely on the physical aspects of weight loss, like diet and exercise.

    But there is an emotional component to food that the vast majority of people simply overlook and it can quickly sabotage their efforts.”

    The survey of over a thousand Americans found that:

    • 31% thought lack of exercise was the biggest barrier to weight loss.
    • 26% said it was what you eat.
    • 17% thought it was down to the high costs of being healthy.
    • 12% guessed that lack of time stopped people losing weight.

    Only 10%, though, supported the idea that psychological well-being was important in weight loss.

    The Psychological Key to Weight Loss

    Dr Robinson said:

    “That may explain why so many of us struggle.

    In order to lose weight and keep it off long term, we need to do more than just think about what we eat, we also need to understand why we’re eating.”

    The emotional connection most people have built up with food is surprisingly powerful.

    Learning to understand this connection can be more useful even than learning about the nutritional value of food.

    Dr Robinson explained:

    “If we’re aware of it or not, we are conditioned to use food not only for nourishment, but for comfort.

    That’s not a bad thing, necessarily, as long as we acknowledge it and deal with it appropriately.”

    Perhaps worst of all, comfort food doesn’t even actually improve our mood, research has found.

    Dr Robinson provides three tips for those looking to understand their emotional connection with food:

    1. Keep a daily diary of food and mood. Look it over for any patterns which emerge. For example, are there particular foods attached to particular moods?
    2. Spot the foods that make you feel good. Is it about evoking a memory or are you eating from stress?
    3. Before eating, think: do I need this because I’m hungry or is it something else (like stress). If it’s stress, food isn’t the way to deal with it.

    Fiona Wilkinson

    The Belief That Inspires Healthy Eating and Weight Loss

    Study identifies belief that could be crucial to inspiring healthy eating and weight loss


    People who believe they have control of their weight — and they were not ‘born fat’ — eat more healthily, a new study finds.

    Believing that DNA does not totally determine weight is also linked to higher personal well-being. The authors of the study, published in the journal Health Education & Behavior, explain:

    “If an individual believes weight to be outside of the influence of diet and exercise, she or he may engage in more behaviors that are rewarding in the short term, such as eating unhealthful foods and avoiding exercise, rather than healthful behaviors with more long-term benefits for weight management.

    By fighting the perception that weight is unchangeable, health care providers may be able to increase healthful behaviors among their patients.” (Parent & Alquist, 2015)

    The study of almost 10,000 people found that with age, believing you are in control of your weight was linked to more healthy eating behaviour.

    People who felt in control took more notice of nutrition labels on food and were more likely to have fruit and vegetables at home.

    They were also less likely to eat frozen meals, unhealthy restaurant food and ‘ready-to-eat’ foods. People who thought their weight was controllable also took more exercise and had higher well-being. The study found little difference between men and women:

    “Although previous research has found gender differences in weight as a motivation for exercise and healthful eating, we did not find evidence that gender affected the relationship between health beliefs and physical activity or healthful eating.

    However, we found evidence that the relationship between belief in weight changeability and exercise, healthful eating, and unhealthful eating differs by age.”