Certain mental states might push one to eat too much. Now attempts are on to evolve a behavioral weight loss treatment to neutralize the emotional trigger that perhaps makes you reach out for more and more.
"The problem that we're trying to address is that the success rates for long-term weight loss are not as good as we would like them to be," said Edie Goldbacher, a postdoctoral fellow at the Temple University, Pennsylvania.
Advertisement"Emotional eating may be one reason why people don't do as well in behavioral weight loss groups, because these groups don't address emotional eating or any of its contributing factors."
The study at Temple's Center for Obesity Research has already had one wave of participants come through, and many participants have seen some success in the short term, but have also learned the skills to help them achieve long term success. It is a NIH-funded weight loss study.
Janet Williams, part of that first cohort, said she lost about 17 pounds over 22 weeks, and still uses some of the techniques she learned in the study to help maintain her weight, which has not fluctuated.
"The program doesn't just help you identify when you eat," said Williams. "It helps you recognize triggers that make you eat, to help you break that cycle of reaching for food every time you feel bored, or frustrated, or sad."
Williams said that the program teaches various techniques to help break that cycle, such as the "conveyor belt," in which participants, when overcome with a specific emotion, can recognize it and take a step back, before reaching for chips or cookies, and put those feelings on their mental "conveyor belt" and watch them go away.
"I still use the skills I learned in the study," she said. "I've learned to say, 'I will not allow this emotional episode to control my eating habits.'"