Posted by: 4pack | November 23, 2008

“Ideal Diet” Update: Dieters Must Change Eating Behavior And Habits



“…People must learn how to say “no” and resist the temptation of eating certain fattening foods. In weight-loss programs, dieters admit that they need to learn how to live with dessert in the refrigerator and NOT to eat it…”



“To attribute dieting success or failure to willpower is to ignore the complex interaction of brain chemicals, behavioral conditioning, hormones, heredity and the powerful influence of habits,” 

Once upon a time, the simplest explanation for dietary behavior was willpower. Overrated and overused, willpower was the reason for a thin individual’s non-indulgence in decadent sweets. The obese individual, in contrast, feels a compulsion to eat and nibble.

Weight-loss researchers consider willpower an obsolete, discredited concept.

“To attribute dieting success or failure to willpower is to ignore the complex interaction of brain chemicals, behavioral conditioning, hormones, heredity and the powerful influence of habits,” reported J. Fritch in a weight loss study for the New York Times.

Dr. Albert Stunkard, professor of psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, noted how most people think that “Willpower is just a pejorative way of describing your failures. Willpower does not have any meaning.”

To illustrate, a study on behavior modification, entitled “Behavioral Control of Overeating,” analyzed the elements of self-control in relation to weight loss. The University of Michigan study by Richard Stuart revealed that women who were treated with behavior modification techniques lost from 26 to 47 pounds in a year. These women had regular sessions with a therapist. They faithfully recorded their food intake and moods (just before eating) in their daily journals.

The focus of weight-loss programs moved toward “behavioral steps a dieter takes regarding eating and away from something you search from within,” observed Dr. Michael Lowe, a professor of clinical psychology at the MCP Hahnemann University, Philadelphia.

Behavioral modification is a weight-loss strategy that involves changing eating habits and making new habits — by performing new behaviors.

Studies show that such people have below-normal blood levels of the hormones melatonin, leptin, and cortisol.

“Willpower as an independent cause of behavior is a myth,” Dr. Lowe explained. He counsels dieters to change their attitude, be positive about their ability to lose weight. He warns them of the formidable forces working against them

Part of the problem is the toxic environment for weight control. Fast food is readily available and our society has become sedentary.

“A person’s ability to control eating varies over time and you cannot attribute that to biology,” said Dr. Kelly Brownell, director of Yale Center for Eating and Weight Disorders.

“There’s a collective public loss of willpower because of this terrible food environment…. One needs much more than willpower now more than ever just to stay even.”

“If you make certain plans,” according to Dr. Rena Wing of the University of Pittsburgh, you will be able to engineer your behavior in such a way that you will look as if you have willpower.”

What matters ultimately is your health and well-being. Losing weight and keeping fit are steps to a more productive and happy life. Discipline and willpower can only enhance the process.

“…Behavior affects the brain’s chemical balance and vice versa. People who have “night eating syndrome” tend to overeat in the evening and have trouble sleeping. They also wake up in the middle of the night to eat…”

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