Diet: Weight Control and Weight Loss Using Mental Imagery

For dieters who have felt despair or even hopelessness in their struggle to develop permanent weight control, a new technique may prove helpful. Mental Imagery, a visualization technique used by health professionals, actors, artists, writers and professional athletes, can be adapted to diet programs. Many diets are undermined by people trying to lose weight in the face of depression, anxiety, rejection and abandonment. Mental Imagery exercises can facilitate dieting by helping dieters reduce and overcome emotional symptoms that foster weight gain. It appears to be a new and effective tool to lose weight permanently.

Emotional problems stem from the variety of conflicts we all face from childhood to our present age. No one is free of conflicts. These conflicts may take the form of an obsessive compulsive eating disorder that leads to overeating and interferes with developing normal eating patterns. Once the psychological factors that contribute to overeating are recognized and accepted, dieters could attempt to reduce their effect through the use of mental imagery.

To illustrate how mental imagery is used let’s examine the common symptom of depression, which tends to make dieting more difficult to maintain. Whether depression is a primary cause of your overeating or secondary to being overweight, either way you are depressed. Simple visualization exercises can help you fight and even overcome depression and its connection to overeating and thus improve your weight control.

Although one can imagine many imagery exercises to help with depression and overeating, a good imagery technique is to first see yourself in that state of mind. Visualize yourself as the world’s most depressed person. Then plaster an enormous X across this person. Visualize the X and your depressed self disappear, followed immediately by a smiling, happy you appearing. Visualize giving yourself a hug and saying how wonderful a person you are and that you will no longer eat because you are depressed. At the same time reiterate that you are losing weight and gaining control over your excessive eating. Many persons also physically hug themselves as they do this exercise.

Imagery that is specifically directed to eating problems offers many dieters another way to control psychological components of overeating. The type and kinds of imagery exercises that the imagination dreams up is almost inexhaustible. Imagery becomes very personal and tunes into individual needs. You can imagine whatever you want. In addition to diminishing emotional conflicts related to overeating, you can also direct the imagery to stop compulsive eating habits, such as binging whenever you see food available on a dining table.

Visualize reaching for the food. At the moment you are about to pick up it up, the food bites your finger, or jumps off the table and laughs at you or it just disappears. There are no limits to the number of imagery exercises you can create or do each day. Practice the exercises three to ten times a day, while deeply relaxed, until the results are felt. Imagery exercises require weeks and sometimes months to become fully effective. Imagery can become a powerful tool for psychological and behavioral change and help give you the permanent weight control you seek.

Source by Marvin Berenson, M.D.

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