By: Dr. Kim Feinstein, Psy.D.
We all have the power to decide what we’re going to do next, but sometimes emotions can cloud our judgement. Here’s how to resist urges to engage in unhealthy habits.
When we discover something that triggers the feeling of pleasure, the brain produces dopamine— a feel-good neurochemical. For this reason, things that produce dopamine can naturally become habitual and/or addicting.
Ex. Eating sugary or carbohydrate-rich foods, binge-eating, etc.
To learn how to control cravings and desires that impede our progress, we must develop better self-control. Here’s how:
Recognize your triggers
The first step to reestablishing control over your urges is to become aware of their causes. A great tool to use for this is the H.A.L.T. method: an acronym that helps remind us to stop (HALT) and differentiate between feelings of Hunger, Anger, Loneliness, or Tiredness.
When these basic feelings are not addressed, it can cause us to give in to emotions and make unhealthy decisions. By taking the time to consider our desires to achieve satisfaction in these categories, we can better recognize what is causing maladaptive behavior and H.A.L.T. it.
Before you have the opportunity to experience a moment of weakness, set boundaries for yourself to minimize negative impact:
- Remove tempting foods from your home to minimize availability.
If the food you’re craving isn’t there, you will not be able to immediately indulge!
- Set standards for slip-ups
Remember that self-control does not have to mean all-or-nothing. Mistakes can happen, so don’t let it ruin your entire day, week, or experience! Instead, limit your indulgences to only enough to satisfy your impulse (1-2 bites), then get right back on track.
Work out your “self-control” muscle
- Research suggests that cravings typically last for 30 minutes. So, distract yourself when you feel the urge to indulge! Start small by ignoring your craving for 5 minutes, then move to 10, 20, 30+. By the time you achieve your time-goal, you may not even have cravings anymore!
- Eating slowly encourages portion control because it takes time for our stomachs to signal the feeling of satisfaction to our brains. So, try holding your utensil in your non-dominant hand when eating to encourage a slower, more mindful eating process.
- Remember that the first 2-3 bites of an indulgence are the most satisfying. After that, your cravings decline! So, convince yourself to only take a few bites if you decide to give-in.
Practice positive self-talk
A positive mindset can improve self-control. Here are some examples of how to turn a negative thought into a positive one:
I can’t stop eating!
|My choices are decisions I get to make.|
|The mistake I made means that I am a failure.||I’m on the right track and will learn from this experience!|
|This is too hard.||
I am worth the effort.
Consider medical assistance
Although independent success is possible, consulting with a medical weight loss professional is the best way to quickly & safely achieve your goals. Consulting with a weight loss professional is similar to visiting any other medical specialist, such as a dentist or eye doctor! These professionals are educated, trustworthy, and qualified to make suggestions regarding the safest way to achieve your weight loss goals.
It is not a weakness to ask for professional help! In fact, they have the ability to prescribe Appetite Suppressants* or recommend tools such as supplements (i.e. Red Mountain’s Control Kit) which are proven to assist with weight loss and weight management.
Dr. Kim Feinstein, Psy. D. is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Red Mountain’s Behavioral Weight Loss Specialist. She specializes in weight management, body image concerns, and eating disorders & prides herself in her ability to educate, guide, and inspire patients to overcome obstacles and ultimately achieve their goals.
*Prescription Appetite Suppressants are only available under the supervision of a licensed physician. Thus, patients must complete a full medical consultation before being provided with any prescription.