Can Thinking and Writing Make You Thin?

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Eat a healthy diet to improve your health. Image courtesy of the National Cancer Institute

Values, Self, and Behaviour

Dr. Aaron Beck is well known as the father of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy; his daughter, Dr. Judith Beck, has carried on his work and has authored the Beck Diet Solution.  She has developed a comprehensive method of weight loss that does not rely on diets or excessive exercise, but focuses on changing thinking and behaviour.  Unhelpful thinking that reinforces thoughts of unfairness, deprivation, and disappointment leads to emotional eating, so Dr. Beck recommends becoming more self-aware and thus more empowered to make good choices.  This includes getting to know personal patterns of thinking, feeling, and related unhealthy behaviours, including poor eating habits.  One of the exercises she includes in her program is a values clarification exercise, focusing on the possible positive results of weight loss.  Completion of the exercise leaves the individual with a set of values-based personal goals for better health, and these are manageable over a life-time.  A variety of other thinking and writing exercises is included in the program, with support over the long-term.

Weight-Loss and Affirmation: More Evidence Needed

The values-affirmation study reported by the Association for Psychological Science had some surprising results that need to be replicated by other studies before they can be taken too seriously, and longer-term results will determine the usefulness of the strategy.  However, other studies, and well-respected psychologists such as Judith Beck, report good results incorporating values clarification exercises into their comprehensive programs for long-term behaviour change that include healthy eating and life-style habits.

Resources

Menon, D.  Exercise is Good for Your Waistline – But It’s a Writing Exercise.  (2012). Psychological Science. Accessed January 7, 2012.

Society for Neuroscience. Obesity and the Brain. (2012). Accessed January 7, 2012.

Beck, J. Beck Diet Solution resources. Accessed January 7, 2012.

Logel, C. and Cohen, G. The Role of the Self in Physical Health: Testing the Effect of a Values-Affirmation Intervention on Weight Loss. (2011). Psychological Science. Accessed January 7, 2012.

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