Food psychology: an introduction

Psychology of Weight Loss (food psychology): An Introduction- Part 1
By Daniel Johnson
Personal Trainer
Youth Training Specalist

Traditionally, we are told there are two main factors of weight loss and maintenance. These two factors being diet and exercise. There is a simple recipe to follow. Improve your diet and exercise more. The product, a healthier, leaner you. Easy, right? Wrong. While there are many valid details as to what your diet and exercise should consist of, what may be more important is a missing main factor of weight loss and maintenance. This third factor of weight loss and maintenance being, your psychology. Put another way, your outlook and mental state regarding diet and exercise and how your mind influences what you eat and what you do. The area of study known as psychology of weight loss or food psychology takes a little utilized, though more realistic approach to how we lose and maintain weight.

To help us learn about psychology of weight loss (PWL) over a few posts we will look at what Alisa Anokhina, a doctoral researcher in clinical health psychology has to say:

In response to “losing weight is easy; you just need to eat less and exercise more, ingest fewer calories than you burn” Alisa says with lab rats this may work but people are much more complicated. A good place to start is understanding our expectations do not align with reality. These expectations are perpetuated by the media, commercials, weight loss programs, etc. All promise quick, easy, drastic weight loss. We then internalize these beliefs. Opening our eyes to the false promises surrounding us is a good first step. We must realize that the idea of eat less, lose weight is not only wrong but counterproductive. (Alisa Anokhina)

A more productive mindset to take is that of viewing food as nourishment to the body. Nourishment is necessary for growth, repair and health. Simply shifting our mindset of how we view food from a negative to a positive can have far reaching effects. Before we eat we can ask ourselves, “Is this food nourishing? Will this food benefit the body as it works to grow, repair and stay in good health?” Now that we have established where to begin we next can move forward to look at some specifics of why we fail and what we can learn from those who succeed. 

Alisa Anokhina- doctoral researcher in clinical health psychology