Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Weight Loss

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CBT Weight Loss Therapy

Given the current obesity epidemic in the United States, people are seeking out different ways to lose weight and keep it off. While they are numerous diet fads and techniques, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) uses empirically supported approaches to effective weight loss.

Therapy Can Help People Lose Weight

Cognitive behavioral therapists will help the client to identify triggers for eating and the functionality of the behavior. It is important for the client to understand that he may eat for various reasons besides feeling hungry. Oftentimes people overeat when they are feeling a certain emotion, such as sadness, anxiety, guilt or anger. A cognitive behavioral therapist will work with the client to discover if he is an emotional eater and if so teach the client other ways to cope with experiencing this emotion besides overeating. Cognitive behavioral therapist may get to the root of why the person is experiencing these emotions, specifically their beliefs, and work to restructure the clients beliefs so that the motion decreases in frequency, intensity and duration. Alternatively, people will have negative emotions as part of normal existence. In this case, the cognitive behavioral therapist may not devote too much time in decreasing the emotion, rather, work with the client on other behaviors he can show besides overeating when experiencing an emotion. For example, cognitive behavioral therapist may encourage a client to call a friend if he is feeling stressed out, rather than open the refrigerator and snack. If a client is triggered by boredom, a cognitive behavioral therapist may work with the client to devise a list of activities he can engage and if he is feeling bored, activities that do not include eating. Sometimes people overeat due to being fatigued or tired. A cognitive behavioral therapist may work with the client on treating the reasons why the person feels tired. If insomnia is an issue, the cognitive behavioral therapist may work on treating insomnia as a precursor to treating the overeating. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has a good track record for treating insomnia.

CBT Techniques

Cognitive behavioral therapist may work with clients on specific behavioral techniques he can use to decrease the chances that he will overeat or eat unhealthy foods. One strategy involves pre-packaging foods into small portion sizes. People will eat less if they are taking food from a smaller portion rather than a large bag. Increasing the amount of vegetables on one’s plate to bulk up a meal is another effective strategy. Journaling one feeding behavior is a technique in self-monitoring that is helpful in weight loss. Increasing physical activity is obviously encouraged as well. However, it is important for cognitive behavioral therapist to realize that the biggest factor in controlling one’s weight is food intake, not physical activity. While increasing physical activity is a healthy habit and should be encouraged, it should not be the assumption that increasing physical activity will decrease one’s weight. It is often the opposite case, in which a person overcompensate and eats too much after he has exercised, thinking he deserves to eat for his hard work out. Often people will eat calories excesses of those they burned from exercise.

Body Image

Cognitive behavioral therapists may also work with clients on the beliefs that he has about body image. Cognitive behavioral therapist may help clients to increase their self acceptance of their current body state and acknowledge that they are making behavioral changes. Cognitive behavioral therapist may also teach clients not to beat up on themselves for going off course or “cheating” on their helping needy habits. It is often the case when a person who is trying to lose weight falls “off the wagon,” experience is an excessive amount of guilt for doing so and therefore overeats even further. A cognitive behavioral therapist may work with the client to realize that it is not the end of the world to fall off a diet plan on one occasion.

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