Stress, mental exhaustion and daily pressure have a negative effect on appetite control.
How to get your mind right.
You start a new diet in order to lose weight, improve your health and obtain a better shape. This means that you are at point A and you need to get to point B. Now that you are clear on where you want to go, the next question is: how are you going to get there?
Many people think that a diet, some optimism and a lot of enthusiasm is more than sufficient. Although this is an excellent starting point, keeping track of your end point by following a superior strategy is significantly more important. In fact, without one, there is also a good chance that you will never reach Point B at all.
Food or thought?
No medical condition has generated as many dietary solutions as obesity. All diets have their followers, but hard data on the efficacy of these diets is scarce, especially when tracked over the long term. Frank Sacks, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, conducted a large trial that tested the efficacy of different weight-loss diets. His trial lasted longer than most and the dropout rate was low. Unfortunately, the dietary goals were only partly realised and the weight-loss results that were accomplished by the trial subjects were similar to those that can be achieved with weight-loss medication alone. Sacks concluded that behavioural factors, rather than a diet, are the main influences that determine successful weight loss. Of course, when one looks at the escalating obesity epidemic, this observation is not surprising.
Easier said than doneâ€¦
The theory behind behaviour can be traced back to Freud. He defined the id, ego and super-ego as the three parts of the psychic apparatus in charge of behaviour. According to his model the id is the set of primitive, instinctual tendencies present from birth responsible for drive. The id does not know morality and cannot judge between good and evil. The super-ego, on the other hand, plays the role of conscience, moralizing over the role of the Id. It criticises misbehaviour and then punishes it with feelings of guilt. The ego performs the more intellectual and executive functions and helps us to organise our thoughts and make sense of them and the world around us. Modified by the influence of the external world, the ego represents reason and common sense.
In Freudâ€™s scheme, for example, a Victorian gentleman standing on the street might feel his id lure him towards the brothel whilst his superego urges him to church. However, it is ultimately left up to his ego to start his feet walking in one direction or the other. Freud also believed that the ego needed to use some form of energy in making such a decision. This concept has become a hot new topic for further psychological studies in motivation as well as behaviour.
Having your cake and eating it
To do or not to do; which requires the most effort? In principle, performing almost any behaviour should require more effort than not performing it. Eating a piece of cake, for example, requires effort through the muscular movements of the arms, fingers and jaw. Yet, most individuals on diet will confirm that refraining from such behaviours seem more difficult and draining than performing them. A hungry person would normally respond to delicious food by eating it. A hungry dieter, on the other hand, requires some internal process to activate self-control and prevent the eating response.
New research has produced strong evidence to suggest that self-control is a limited, consumable resource, operating like a muscle that contains a limited amount of strength. When one exerts self-control on a repetitive basis it consumes your self-control strength and reduces the amount of strength available for the next event that will also require self-control. Each day we face many new challenges which require some form of self-control. Coping with stress, regulating negative moods and resisting temptations all consume self-control strength. After many such events, subsequent attempts at self-control are more likely to fail.[2,3]
Weight-loss does not happen overnight. It requires sustained effort, which in turn, requires motivation. Motivation is dependent on many factors, including mood and levels of contentment. These are not static processes and it is difficult to maintain positive emotions like optimism, self-confidence and emotional tranquillity. We all deal with difficult people and situations on a daily basis and become drained by our numerous responsibilities. Mood plays a dominant role in our lives; a good mood makes us think and feel better. It makes us more optimistic and enthusiastic about life and our responsibilities. It also strengthens our level of commitment and determination in life. The numerous negative emotions like stress and frustration, on the other hand, have the opposite effect, tending to derail us and make us become disillusioned and cynical. In the process we give up and abandon our goals.
Most people gain weight because they eat too much. This could merely be because of bad habits or poor educational levels, but often stem from medical conditions that make appetite control very difficult, if not impossible. Besides being insulin resistant, we found that a large number of overweight individuals suffer from undiagnosed psychological disorders such depression, anxiety, adult attention deficit disorder, compulsive overeating, the binge eating disorder, food addiction and the night eating syndrome all which lower levels of dietary compliance. To give these individuals a diet of whatever kind, without helping them identify and address their specific stumbling block is a futile exercise which sets them up for failure. Itâ€™s a bit like sending them to sea in a rickety old ship – theyâ€™ll cruise through the harbour without a problem but wonâ€™t get very far.
In order to deal with the behavioural component of weight loss more effectively at the Medical Nutritional Institute, we developed our own psychometric assessment to screen all our patients. This included looking for compulsive (OCD) and impulsive (ADD) eating patterns, as well as assessing their emotional profiles (anxiety and depression scores). Some of our patients only present with one stumbling block. Many, however, display a combination of different ones. Only once a stumbling block is identified can one can implement a remedial solution. In other words, one can place a stepping stones to help you overcome or manage your stumbling block. This makes weight-loss much easier for you. Certain psychological conditions need a doctorâ€™s assistance as well as prescription medication. Most, however, respond to NeuroVanceTM, a non-prescription product that we developed from our research in the field.
New developments in the field of medication
With the rising cost of prescription medication and their prevalence of unwanted side effects, many patients suffering from mood-related disorders are exploring alternative options to help alleviate stress and mood-related triggers in order to stay on track. Statistically, psychological conditions such as anxiety and depression are of the most frequent conditions seen by clinicians, often requiring a long-term regimen of prescription medications. Unfortunately, some patients experience side effects, which include the risk of weight gain. For this reason there is a universal interest amongst the scientific community to find effective mood-improving treatments that have a lower side effect profile and display fewer drug interactions.
Over the past decades, the use of complementary and alternative medications (CAMs) have grown to such a degree that for many it has become part of everyday treatment. The use of CAMs for emotional problems has also increased significantly over the past two decades. In the field of alternative and complementary medicine, numerous plant-based extracts or nutraceutical compounds have been scientifically evaluated. Proponents of evidence-based medicine, such as the Cochrane Collaboration, agree that all treatments, whether mainstream or alternative, ought to be held to standards of the scientific method. Based on the available evidence, it appeared that certain nutritional and plant based extracts are effective when treating depressive and anxiety-related conditions. At the institute, however, our concern was that as with any drug trial, there is always the possibility that any positive effect could be due to the placebo effect, rather than a true benefit, especially in participants with an underlying mental or emotional disorder.
Over the years we have conducted our own trails on these agents, testing them for benefit versus side effects ratios. The knowledge that we gained through this process allowed us to identify what we believe to be the most effective agents with the least amount of side effects. Even more importantly, we figured out how to combine them so that their synergistic effects would work in harmony and enhance or complement one another. In the process we developed NeuroVanceTM, designed to enhance brain function during times of stress, greater workloads, concentration difficulties and mood-related symptoms.