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How to Overcome Psychological Barriers to Weight Loss

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The United Kingdom is in the grip of an obesity crisis which puts you at higher risk of 13 types of cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure. This alarming fact has led Cancer Research UK to conduct a study to determine the extent of this problem. They report that obesity will rise from 64% of the population being overweight today to 71% by 2024 and that being overweight will soon overtake smoking as the biggest cause of cancer.

The UK Government has delayed putting measures in place to reduce these numbers, which will lead people to search elsewhere for their motivation. That means it falls upon the diet industry, worth $60 billion (approximately £50 billion), to help drive people towards a healthier, more balanced shape. The focus is often on labelling foods as healthy or unhealthy, having days when you can cheat, and promoting low-fat ready meals and diet bars along with fad diets, which can cause people to give up, feel a failure and become depressed.

Indeed, psychology plays a big part in the journey to becoming healthier and fitter. In this article, we will try and explain how to overcome some of the psychological barriers.

Losing weight rather than weight control

Weight control is a joyful experience, not a negative one; losing weight implies that you might find it again, which can put you in the wrong mindset to start your healthy eating plan. It is all about the language; a weight loss journey implies that you will get somewhere and reach your destination, which will be your goal. Don’t only think about the pounds if they stay the same when you step on the scales; think about the inches. Get out a tape measure and see if there is a difference in your shape, or try on clothes that have fitted you for a while. Body recomposition happens when you are exercising and weight training by losing fat but gaining muscle, this will even out throughout your journey.

Thinking of food as good and bad

There are no good or bad foods, just nutritious and less nutritious. Good weight loss programmes will be tailored to the individual and should allow scope for some less nutritious foods within the structure as a reward for good behaviour. This is known as a treat and is usually counted as several calories, points, or sins. This could be a chocolate bar, a packet of crisps, an alcoholic beverage, or maybe some extra cheese or coleslaw on your salad. In truth, snacking is not a problem, but labelling foods is not a good idea. It distorts your relationship with food and makes you feel guilty if you overindulge in the so-called bad foods.

All or nothing
All or nothing is a negative approach to your weight control plan and will lead to you mentally punishing yourself when it doesn’t go well or you go off the rails. This style of thinking is linked to you believing that you lack control over what you eat and cannot maintain a healthy weight. It could mean you are more likely to give up, especially after enjoying a treat, based on the fact that you feel you fell off the wagon by indulging in the forbidden fruit, which is closely linked to the good food, and bad food strategy we discussed above.


Stress is how we react when under pressure or in a situation we can’t handle. This can lead to anxiety and depression, which is not conducive to a diet plan as it may cause you to comfort eat to calm your emotions. Your emotions will lead to you overeating, especially so-called comfort food that is high in calories and contains a lot of sugar. Take yourself out of the stressful environment, and try relaxation therapies yoga or meditation are both excellent for stress or soak in a nice warm bath using aromatherapy oils and muscle-relaxing bath salts while listening to calming music.

For more articles exploring psychology in relation to health, be sure to pay regular visits to our homepage.

Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.


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