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29 Jan

Weight Loss Is Not About Fighting Hunger


Feeling hungry isn’t really the issue with weight loss. By that I mean that people who are overweight eat regardless of whether or not they are hungry. Sometimes the problem is simply that they are so out of touch with the sensations their body produces that they just respond to external stimuli as the trigger for eating. But most of the time it’s about the tricks other people play with our minds.

It’s really difficult to watch an evening of tv with all of those food & snack adverts and not, at some point, decide you need something to eat. This is the subtle hypnosis of tv. It puts ideas in your mind purely because of the associations it creates. When was the last time you saw any food advert with fat people in it? When was the last time you saw any food advert with unattractive people in it? When was the last time you saw a food advert with miserable people in it? Unless, that is, they were miserable because they were not getting the food that was being advertised.

I especially remember a series of food adverts that M&S ran. It stuck in my mind because of two things – the stunning quality of the photography, and Dervla Kirwan’s sexy, seductive voiceover. No people appeared in these ads just the food. But there was a hidden promise if you buy this stuff.

It doesn’t mean that you are weak-willed if you are influenced by this stuff. It’s designed to do that. It’s designed by experts to make you want to eat, and to become familiar with the brand so that you automatically pick it up on your next trip to the supermarket. That way, when you next see the advert there will be some of that in the cupboard. The subliminal message is that you too will have the lifestyle and body shape of the people who eat this stuff on tv.  

What you actually get is fatter.

Feeling negative emotion is another eat trigger. Anything from boredom to despair can trigger a trip to the kitchen for something to eat. It passes the time, it reminds you of getting treats as a child and knowing you were loved. Watching an evening of tv is quite likely to fill you with negative emotion even if you didn’t have any to start off with. That’s why the food manufacturers’ advertising is so effective. The soaps are dreary, the news is never good, and reality tv is nothing like reality. It is hardly surprising that we seek a distraction and food is the easiest and quickest solution.

It would be great if it actually worked though. If food truly made us feel better then we’d all be happy fatties and the world would be a better place. But we’re still miserable fatties the next evening and the next and the next and we never stop to question whether or not the feel bad-eat, or feel bored-eat strategy changes anything except our weight.

If you want to change this then next time you realise you are heading to the kitchen in a commercial break go to the staircase instead and walk up and down ten times, then return to watch tv.

Don’t forget to check out my book How to Lose Weight and Free Yourself from Diets Forever.

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