“You” are not “Your Brain”. “You” are more like the user working on a computer. Since you’re brain is like a computer, we need to figure out how to reprogram your brain to lose weight.
Once you start a program in a computer, it runs without much interference from “You”. It goes until the program reaches the resolution – also programmed.
When we eat, we feel content. We are constantly searching for that “content” feeling.
Our programming method to achieve this, has for many reasons, been through eating.
When you’ve programmed your computer over the course of decades to turn to food, re-writing that program is going to take some intentional work.
You must re-identify to your brain what “contentedness” looks like. It is not, contrary to what my brain thought, found through stuffing myself with 3 fast-food combo meals in one sitting.
The physical strain on my stomach before surgery was a cue that my brain could not ignore. But, that didn’t mean it was actually satisfied.
So, the cycle would start again. The brain seeks satisfaction. The Head Hunger kicks in. The bingeing occurs. What do you do?
How do you reprogram your brain to lose weight?
We can reprogram the brain through the following steps:
- Decrease the portion size of meals, and eat more often throughout the day
- Identify the difference between head hunger and actual hunger
- Learn how to satisfy head hunger
1. Decrease Your Portion Size
Your body doesn’t need as much food as your are providing.
You might think this section would be in the food part, but this is all about your brain. You’ve trained it to eat, and in massive proportions. Now, you have to re-program.
What if you knew that the entire size of your meal should only be half the size of your palm? Did you just look at your hand? Was that the size of your last meal?
You could eat ANYTHING, and as long as it was no more than the size of half your palm, you’d lose weight.
But, unless you’ve had weight loss surgery to decrease your stomach size, this may seem impossible to do.
Here’s the thing, though, even with weight loss surgery, it’s hard to maintain. The portion size creeps.
And over the years, we don’t realize we’re eating so much until we’re back where we started.
It all comes back to learning how to reprogram your brain to lose weight.
Eat 3 Small Meals & 3 Small Snacks, 3 Hours Apart, Totaling 6 Times A Day
You shouldn’t ever feel hungry.
If you are eating every 3 hours, about 300 calories at each sitting, you’re going to eat about 1800 calories – six times in the day.
This is not the same as grazing. This is a designated meal time, with a pre-planned meal or snack.
When you can eat like this, it often feels like all you are doing is eating. Though, it may take some practice to get it down.
The meals you need to eat to last the 3 hours should be nutrient packed, and high in fiber carbs and proteins. This mix of foods will keep you satisfied and full of energy until it’s time to eat again.
And it’s going to come sooner than you think!
How To Successfully Decrease Portion Size
- Portion out your food.
- Get something near you to satisfy your other senses.
- Eat slow, and think about what you’re eating.
- Listen to your stomach.
- When you’ve finished your portion, engage your other senses.
- Set a timer for 5 minutes, eat again only when the timer goes off.
- Increase the timer by 1 minute at every meal, until you are spacing 6 palm sized meals 3 hours apart, 3 times a day.
2. Identify The Difference Between Head Hunger And Actual Hunger
What is Actual Hunger?
Actual hunger occurs when our nutritional needs are not being met, and the body needs fuel.
Actual hunger is quickly satisfied by eating. It’s not very complex.
What is Head Hunger?
Head hunger occurs when your brain isn’t satisfied, so continues to send signals throughout the entire body that we must find satisfaction.
Head hunger is probably the biggest hurdle for you to cross to really stop failing at weight loss.
These signals can feel like you are on fire. Actual, literal, fire. The only way you know how to douse the fire is by filling your stomach.
I spent 6 months learning how to ignore the fire after weight loss surgery. It wasn’t easy.
If you’re not feeling like you are on fire, then you have to deal with your stomach growling. Once, a growling stomach DID indicate a hungry tummy.
But Head Hunger knows that you will react to your stomach noises fast. It’s like the oven timer, designed to be noisy and annoying.
Except, by using your growling stomach to satisfy head hunger, tummy noises are now like the oven timer beeping because the laundry is done.
When people find they have a food addiction, they’ll usually find that the head hunger is the culprit.
And, then they must spend the time, usually through medical intervention (i.e. therapists & bariatric programs), learning how to fight it.
2. Can you learn to satisfy head hunger without seeing a medical professional?
Yes. Head Hunger can be fought through mindful eating, and engaging the other senses.
Again, super vague. Here’s the specific actions I take to stop head hunger, and reprogram your brain to lose weight.
How To Satisfy Head Hunger to Reprogram your Brain to Lose Weight
Satisfy the three parts of the body that require attention in the following order to calm head hunger:
- First, satisfy the tongue. Think on and savor the flavors of your meal.
- Next satisfy the taste receptors in the digestive system, ranging from the nose and throat to the stomach. You can’t just chew and spit, as that’s its own eating disorder, because the receptors in your throat and digestive system have expectations once you start eating. Do not eat more than you’ve portioned out!
- Last, satisfy the brain. In order to satisfy head hunger, you’ll need to do something other than eat. The brain is seeking engagement, and the best way is through your other senses. Smell something different – essential oils or scented hand sanitizer. Feel something – apply lotion on your hands or touch something with texture. Look at something – find a vibrant picture, maybe with an affirmation toward weight loss. Listen – go have a conversation with someone or listen to music, if you’re alone.
- Repeat, over and over again.
This may take repetition in order for the programming to take place. Don’t give up after one or two tries.
When the taste receptors in the stomach are triggered, the stomach sends the signals to the brain. It signifies that we are full and that we are satisfied – two very different things.
After you’ve done all three steps enough times, you can remove the first two steps and JUST satisfy the brain.
This is especially important when you’re hit with that “I’ve got to eat something” flash, and the closest thing is a bite-size candy.
Or, you know that Jimmy John’s delivers freaky fast, and you can get that food with the click of exactly two buttons.
Understand Where Your Taste Receptors Are Located
You may have learned about taste buds in elementary or secondary schools growing up. Taste buds are on our tongue, and are made up of taste receptor cells. But this isn’t the only place taste receptor cells are found.
As I was learning about my new body after gastric bypass, I learned that taste receptors are found in many different places in our body. Check out the book Taste Receptors to learn more.
Taste receptor cells also live in our throat, and in our digestive system. You’re probably familiar with the way your nose receives information on smell, and how that impacts the taste of certain foods.
You may not be aware that there are taste receptors in your natural stomach, too. I use the term natural stomach, because I now have a pouch thanks to gastric bypass.
My pouch has no natural taste receptors. After surgery, I often asked other people if things tasted wrong.
My tongue was the same as it’d always been. But the taste receptors in my stomach were cut off. And my brain was not happy about it. It’s how I learned that food does not satisfy head hunger.
And there is a certain insanity that comes from having an itch you cannot scratch anymore.
I had to learn how to satisfy this feeling, and it wasn’t with food.
You Can Reprogram Your Brain To Lose Weight!
Following these steps will help you re-program your brain around food, and get you to your goals!
I know it seems like an impossible task, but you can get this to happen for you.
When you can re-program your brain, weight loss will be so easy. Let me know how it works out for you.
Happy Weight Loss <3
Related: How To Stop Failing At Weight Loss