This is addendum to the article posted on Ask the Cognitive Behavior on Automatic Thinking..Reactive Behavior.

Applying the principle points that automatic thoughts are the thoughts and images that involuntarily pop into our conscious or semi conscious mind to food situations, we can begin to see how emotional eating is related to automatic thinking.

Habitual Emotional Eating
So for example when we are emotional about something, our semi-conscious automatic thought might be “I need sugar. So eating a cupcake will make me feel better”. This is an example of a thought is likely linked to a habit. As a result the person automatically craves sweets when they become emotional.

Also since the thought of the cupcake making one feel better is tucked away from our consciousness, when we are eating the cupcake we most likely don’t recognize “the cupcake does not solve my problem nor does it make me really feel better”. Therefore its unlikely we will stop eating the cupcake because its ineffective.

So what to do:
Create a food diary that includes what you ate, how much and a simple note about your mood while you are eating.
(This exercise itself will help you to create awareness between when your moods and eating patterns.)

-Then create a daily meal intention plan.

– As you approach each day, decide when, where and what you will eat. Consider what you will be doing and what will be available to you.
-Try to be as specific as possible including breaking down protein, carb and fat goals.
-If there is a particular food that you are avoiding like red meat or french fries mark them down as red light foods.

Red light foods are stay away foods because they are either really bad for you healthwise or triggers for bad eating.

-If you are having trouble coming up with a food agenda then think about what you imagine a healthy meal plan should consist of for that day.
-Consider portions in your goals.

– As you maintain both the food diary and continue setting daily meal plan intentional goals, make note of the times when there were discrepancies (times when you failed to maintain your dietary goals). Most likely there was some emotional component to your decision to change your behavior or habitual influence.

If you are having a hard time losing or maintaining weight loss, although you are “staying within your daily calorie intake allotment” perhaps you need to rethink eating commercially prepared food. Since while some retailers or manufacturers are working on solutions to develop lower calorie foods others are just under reporting.

ADA Report on The Accuracy of Stated Energy Contents of Reduced-Energy, Commercially Prepared Foods…

A recent study released by the American Dietary Association (Volume 110, Issue 1, Pages 116-123, January 2010) which evaluated the stated energy contents of reduced-energy restaurant foods and frozen meals purchased from supermarkets revealed that differences substantially exceeded laboratory measurement error.

In fact measured energy values of 29 quick-serve and sit-down restaurant foods averaged 18% more than stated values, and measured energy values of 10 frozen meals purchased from supermarkets averaged 8% more than originally stated.

Further some individual restaurant items contained up to 200% of stated values while, free side dishes increased provided energy to an average of 245% of stated values for the entrees they accompanied.

As pointed out in this report, this phenomenon could not only hinder efforts to self-monitor calories intake to control weight, but could also impact the recent policy initiatives to disseminate information on food energy content at the point of purchase.

Health Epidemic?

December 18, 2009

The US’s growing health epidemic, specifically the growing proportion of children and adults considered overweight or medically obese is no secret. But if you are like me, in that you like to look at the data you might find this report which describes the findings from the 2005-2006 survey of the Health Behavior of School-Age Children (HBSC) project. This was a cross-national study of adolescent health, health behaviors, with the family, school, and social-environmental contexts for these health behaviors. The World Health Organization sponsored the study.

If you are having a hard time losing weight, maybe it’s because you have not really committed to the process.


Take this quiz to help determine how committed to the process you are?

(Give yourself a 0 for each No and 1 for each yes)

1. Have you selected a health diet or nutrition plan to follow for at least the 1st 2 weeks to help you

get started and to break bad habits?

2. Have you scheduled an appointment with your doctor or any necessary medical professional to help you with the process?

3. Have you met with a nutritionist, a trainer, or a health therapist?

(For each 1 give yourself a point)

4. Do you have an exercise plan and SCHEDULE in place?

5. Have you cleaned out your cupboards of all junk and trigger foods?

6. Have you told a friend or family member of your intentions?

7. Have you bought new gym clothing or downloaded some tunes from Itune for those morning runs?

8. Have you given up habits such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption?

9. Have you started drinking 8 glasses of water daily?

10. Have you set a weight loss goal?

If you scored between a 10 and 13 I’d say you are pretty committed. You know that action will result in benefits

If you scored between 7 and 10 I’d say you are committed. You may not believe you need as much structure and support as you think. Think about enlisting the help of others in the beginning or selecting a program that is right for you.

If you scored between a 0 and 6, I’d and you have been a yo-yo dieter or a person who has simply said many times before, “This is the week I am going to start to lose those 10lbs” then I think you need to review this list and make some changes in your approach to dieting.

Each time you back and forth with your diet and weight, its not only harder on your body to adjust it’s also more difficult to get on track. Break the cycle by approaching your weight loss in an entirely different manner-use structure and the resources available to you as tools!

To healthy living

Dr Jayme

Please address all comments to the blog

Power Naps

May 25, 2009

One of the most important lessons I learned my freshman year at Cornell was in my Psychology 101 class, taught by sleep specialist Dr. James Mass.  I was shocked to discover that power naps are actually effective.  This was a great revelation then and a useful tool now.  Although I no longer spend countless late nights with my nose in Organic Chemistry books, I do sometimes find myself “burning the candle at both ends”.  This is not just a favorite expression used by our parents; it’s what a lot of us New Yorkers (and all busy adults) do as we try to fit everything in to our demanding weeks, including early morning exercise, long hard days at work, spending time with family, followed by perhaps more working from home, and social and business events and meetings in the evenings.

With the schedule I had last week, it’s amazing I didn’t start a fire with my “candle”!  By the time I got home from work Thursday night, I was so exhausted I could barely speak.  The last thing I wanted to do was go out to dinner for the third night in a row, but it was a birthday celebration that I could not skip.  Even though I would not typically consider myself a napper, the 20 minutes I spent laying in my bed with my eyes closed allowed me to function through my meal and enjoy my company! 

Power naps are not a substitute for a full night of sleep, but a short snooze can improve your alertness, cognitive skills, patience, reaction time, and ability to learn.  It can reduce stress and increase memory, creativity, energy, and focus.  Even just closing your eyes and concentrating on your breathing for five minutes can make you feel more relaxed.  Studies have shown that naps can reduce blood levels of the stress hormone cortisol, decrease the risk for heart disease, and increase motivation for exercise. 

The next time you get up to go for your afternoon coffee run, consider grabbing a blanket, finding a dark, quiet comfortable spot, and settling in for a power nap.  Whether you have the time for five minutes, or a full hour, just make sure to set your alarm.  Happy napping!

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