Happiness Affects Brain Activity for Weight Loss

July 1, 2017

Mostly, people come to me to lose weight, but they walk out gaining more.  I am not a therapist, and I openly share my struggles with past depression and childhood trauma.  Because I’m not a therapist and I’m unable to diagnose my clients, somehow this ends up being beneficial (at least in my office).  It provides me more time to focus on tangible action.  That’s what really helped me get out of my “dark space.”  What can I do NOW (stop digging up the past)?

I have so many clients that feel guilty telling me their problems since they came to me primarily for nutrition, and I have to reassure them over and over again that this is how we lose weight; that this psychological talk is an essential part of the weight loss journey.  We have to figure out the root cause.  Sometimes, the answer is so simple.  We just needed someone to see it from a different perspective.  Other times, it’s deep and tough; potentially years and decades of rewiring the brain and working through life struggles. 

When we experience emotional “pain,” we don’t have energy for making healthy choices.  We are in survival mode.  Plus, all that sugar, fat, and comfort food rewards our brain temporarily to feel better so we constantly repeat “what works” (what makes us feel better) which leads to weight gain.  Here are just 3 things to start practicing.  Let me know how it goes and if you need further support.

  1. Touch.  I give hugs to everyone in my office.  Touch is powerful.  Rejection hurts not just to the heart but physically.  Touch or massage reduces pain.  By the way, studies show that in-person touch or talking on the phone works but texting does NOTHING.  It’s like not getting support.  Reach out and get hugs!
  2. Label Your Emotions.  Suppressing emotions backfires.  Describe how you feel in 1 or 2 words.  Validate how you feel and re-engage your “logic” brain (prefrontal cortex).  This calms the amygdala (region that processes emotional reaction). 
  3. Rid Guilt & Shame.  It’s crazy that guilt and shame actually activates the reward center of our brain which explains why so many of us are obsessed with shaming and imposing guilt on ourselves.  The brain likes to worry too because at least we are doing something versus nothing at all.  This calms that limbic system which processes emotions.  At Happy Food, we heavily focus on gratitude because it boosts dopamine and serotonin. Every diet program is about guilt & shame. Let’s find more room for gratitude instead. 

If there are changes you’d like to make in your stress level, eating habits, exercise, and overall health and happiness, start with a free health consultation at www.HappyFoodHealth.com or (619) 876-2655. See if this is the right match for you. I do things very differently to make health a natural lifestyle and this is not for everyone. Check out Yelp for other people’s opinion of Happy Food.

~ Samantha Hua, Nutrition & Holistic Health Coach, San Diego, CA