This is part of the Healthy Weight Management Series of articles, tips, blogs and videos which is available on the Sunset Coast Hypnotherapy Facebook page .
Why do some people find weight loss so easy?
We all probably know someone who can lose weight fairly easily if they gain a few kilos over the party season. They just put their mind to eating healthier foods, restrict their intake of sugar and fat for a while, maybe exercise a bit more……… and they are back to their ideal weight. They really don’t understand the experience that most people have when they try to lose weight! (1)
However, genetics can play a part in how people find it easy to maintain a healthy weight. If your body takes fewer calories to operate, then you could eat the same as a thinner person, and still have calories or kilojoules left over (which are stored as fat). In addition, as you lose weight, your body takes even fewer calories to maintain your new (lighter) weight, and so your weight may plateau.
What factors can affect weight loss?
Did you know that our cravings for junk food / fast food are actually encouraged by food manufacturers? They spend an unspecified number of research dollars on this! Fast food and snacks contain fat, sugar, salt and other chemicals to trick our bodies into wanting more and more, and over-riding our “stop” signals.
The good news is: if you are aware of your cravings and triggers, they are much easier to avoid. It’s also a lot easier to eat healthily and lose weight.
But why is fatty, sugary, salty food so appealing to us? It goes back to the way that some manufacturers design processed food. There is a specific combination of salty, sweet and fatty flavours called the “bliss point”. Howard Moskowitz, an American market researcher, first coined this phrase and is one of the best known researchers who specialise in this area (2).
This salt, sugar and fat affects our brain in a similar way to drug addictions by triggering the reward pathways in our brain, and encouraging the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of euphoria, bliss, motivation and pleasure (3, 4, 5). This then encourages us to eat these foods again and again, due to context-dependent memory (6), as our brain remembers what made us feel good, and strives to repeat the experience by eating more of the food providing the “bliss point”, especially if we are feeling unhappy for some reason.
To make weight loss even more interesting, dieting can cause neurological changes that make you more likely to notice fatty and sugary food than before dieting.(7) It is also harder to ignore the food, as the same brain changes make the food taste better, and give a bigger rush of dopamine (which make us feel great). Dieting also changes hormones, as leptin (a satiety hormone) goes down, which makes the dieter feel more hungry. Dieting may also affect thinking (8) including self-control (9)
Stress (including lack of sleep) may also make high fat, high sugar foods more attractive to you (10, 11).
So, what are some tips to improve these factors so that we can reach a healthy weight?
- Realise that factors outside your control (e.g. genetics) may play a part in your weight.
- Ensure that you are eating sufficient food to satisfy you. It does not need to be fatty or sugary food – fill up on vegetables and some fruit. See Australian dietary guidelines (12) for more information.
- Decrease stress. We are all subject to stress in daily life, but there are numerous methods of decreasing it, either on the spot when a stressful event happens, or lowering our response to stress in general so we are less likely to react (13).
- Take action to sleep better (if it is an issue for you) (11, 14).
© Lisa Billingham, 2020.
Are you interested in a personalised weight loss program? You have the choice of the Virtual Gastric Band program (which runs over 4 sessions) or the in-depth Pathway to a Healthier You (which runs over 8 sessions)?
If you are interested in finding out more about these or the other help available, please give me (Lisa) a call on 0403 932311.
We can have a chat to answer any of your questions, and to help you decide if I am the best therapist for you. All with no obligation.
- Mann, T. (2018). Why diets fail. Thin people don’t understand this crucial truth about losing weight. Quartz. https://qz.com/1169082/thin-people-dont-understand-this-crucial-truth-about-losing-weight/
- Moss, M. (2013). The extraordinary science of junk food. New York Times, 24 February. https://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/24/magazine/the-extraordinary-science-of-junk-food.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
- Johnson, P., Kenny, P. (2010). Dopamine D2 receptors in addiction-like reward dysfunction and compulsive eating in obese rats. Nature Neuroscience 13, 635–641. https://doi.org/10.1038/nn.2519
- Willner, T. and Moncrieff, F. (2020). Can’t stop eating junk food? Here’s why. Second Nature. https://www.secondnature.io/guides/nutrition/cant-stop-eating-junk-food
- Ahmed, S. H., Guillem, K., & Vandaele, Y. (2013). Sugar addiction: pushing the drug-sugar analogy to the limit. Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care, 16(4), 434–439. https://doi.org/10.1097/MCO.0b013e328361c8b8
- Brewer, J. (n.d.). A simple way to break a bad habit. TED Talks. https://embed.ted.com/talks/judson_brewer_a_simple_way_to_break_a_bad_habit
- Stice, E., Burger, K., and Yokum, S. (2013). Caloric deprivation increases responsivity of attention and reward brain regions to intake, anticipated intake, and images of palatable foods. NeuroImage, 67, 322-330. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.11.028
- Green, M. W., & Rogers, P. J. (1995). Impaired cognitive functioning during spontaneous dieting. Psychological Medicine, 25(5), 1003–1010. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0033291700037491
- Kemps, E., Tiggemann, M., and Marshall, K. (2005). Relationship between dieting to lose weight and the functioning of the central executive. Appetite, 45 (3), 287-294. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2005.07.002
- Ambardekar, N. (2019). Why can’t I lose weight? WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/diet/obesity/why-cant-i-lose-weight#1
- Mosley, M. (2017). Michael Mosley: how to have a better night’s sleep. Radio Times. https://www.radiotimes.com/news/2017-05-11/michael-mosley-how-to-have-a-better-nights-sleep/
- National Health and Medical Research Council (2013) Australian Dietary Guidelines. Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council. www.nhmrc.gov.au/guidelines-publications/n55
- Billingham, L. (2019). Benefits of relaxation and how to do it. Sunset Coast Hypnotherapy blog. https://sunsetcoasthypnotherapy.com.au/2019/03/26/benefits-of-relaxation-and-how-to-do-it/
- National Sleep Foundation. (n.d.) What to do when you can’t sleep. SleepFoundation.org https://www.sleepfoundation.org/insomnia/treatment/what-do-when-you-cant-sleep