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    If Diets Make You Unhappy, Try Brain Training

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    Here’s a vow you can hold: Rather than diets, begin savouring your food.

    That may seem counterintuitive advice, but there is soaring scientific evidence that diets do not work. According to studies, food restriction only makes you want to eat more. Dieting can also cause a backlash, in the long run, activating your body’s survival defences, slowing your metabolism, and making it even more challenging to lose weight in the future.

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    Surrendering dieting does not imply giving up on having a healthier body. To successfully overcome a dieting habit, you must let go of old beliefs about counting calories, avoiding favourite foods, and measuring success by a number on a scale.

    Here are two simple exercises from Brewer’s Eat Right Now programme to get you started.

    If Diets Make You Unhappy, Try Brain Training

    Start with a pre-meal warm-up

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    Try this simple awareness exercise before each meal this week. There’s no need to keep a food diary or restrict your diet. Simply check-in with your body after each meal. How hungry are you on a scale of zero to ten, with zero being an empty stomach and ten being uncomfortably full? Next, examine the food, paying attention to the textures and colours. Now you can smell your food. Finally, take your first mindful bite with your fork. Put your fork down and concentrate on how the food tastes and feels in your mouth as you chew. Check-in with your body after a few bites to see if you’re still hungry or full.

    Organize your eating habits

    If Diets Make You Unhappy, Try Brain Training

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    Use this exercise to work on the desired eating behaviour, such as excessive snacking or ordering fast food. Our eating habits consist of three components: a trigger, a behaviour, and a result. You can provide your brain with new information about how the habit truly makes you feel by mapping your habits.

    1. Begin by identifying one eating behaviour that you want to change. Perhaps you want to eat fewer snacks during the day or cut back on takeout or indulgences like cookies, potato chips, or ice cream. While there is nothing wrong with enjoying these foods, you have identified this as problematic eating behaviour. Why is this so?
    2. Consider what is causing this behaviour. Is it an emotion, such as rage or stress, or are you treating yourself? It could also be a situation, such as watching television or going grocery shopping while hungry.
    3. Concentrate on the end result. Ask yourself some questions before you eat. What do I take away from this? How will I feel after eating this food? Consider how you felt the last time you had it. Did you like it? Did you end up overeating? Were you feeling nauseous or overly full? Did you later feel guilty and punish yourself for eating it?
    4. Considering how food makes you feel before, during, and after eating informs your brain about how satisfying (or not) a food is. It can also help you overcome the hold that a particular food has on you.
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