Learn The If-Then Technique –
A favourite amongst the cognitive behaviour fraternity, the If-Then technique relies on planning and preparation. Instead of stumbling blindly through the day, encountering temptations and impulses to do the wrong thing, all you need to do is spend a few minutes imagining all the situations where you might have a problem and then work out how you will deal with that issue. This is an extraordinary technique for dismantling negative behaviour traits and a fabulous daily habit to develop.
Now, practise your positive decision making
You’re really making the right decisions in advance, well away from the instant-grab-it-eat-it response of the limbic system! If you get stressed, then you know you have to breathe and relax. If you see or smell the comfort foods or unhealthy snacks that pile on the pounds, then you remember your goal about getting your weight under control, you visualise the horrible health problems that are waiting to plague the overweight.
Recognise your weaker moments
If someone invites you for lunch at the fast food outlet, then you know you’ll decline the invitation because you’ve brought a healthy lunch with you. These preparation strategies are surprisingly effective, intensively researched and highly recommended. One of the most effective ways of making this technique even more concentrated is to start making notes. Write down every situation where you notice you’re getting stressed or feel the need to eat the wrong things. The results might surprise you but they will greatly assist you in identifying the precise situations where your weight control plans might come under pressure.
Practise working with your executive function
Once you’ve understood where the dangers lie, you can prepare strategies to defuse the situation and turn down the impulsive amygdala response. Make these preparations an essential part of your daily routine for total weight control. Prepare for the situations where you might lapse and get out of control and decide in advance how you will deal most effectively with each scenario. You’ll have guessed quite rightly that this strategy engages our prefrontal cortex, working with your highly prized Executive Function, emphasising the advantages of cool, reasoned logic and overriding the impulses of the amygdala.
Controlling Your Environment – remove temptations
Planning and preparation can be extended into other aspects of your daily routine. There are many items on the dangerous food list that you will need to avoid. We’ll get to specifics in a later chapter. Removing those items from your home, from your working environment and from your shopping list is a vital step in sanitising your living space and putting temptation firmly out of sight and out of reach. It’s completely fair to ban unhealthy substances from your home and office.
If you want to take control of your weight, you’ll know that you’re going to make changes to your eating behaviour. It only makes sense to extend that control to your environment. You’ll feel better and you’ll start to build a strong sense of achievement, a feeling of personal satisfaction because you’re demonstrating that you really are taking control of your life. And that is a truly worthy objective.