Restraint is the capacity to restrain against wanting (the subconscious force that drives eating and overeating). In moments of wanting, a signal is sent to the executive system, the area of the brain that is responsible for decision-making.
How does the brain make decisions? It helps to think of it as two parts: the autopilot and the sleepy executive. Autopilot is a fast and automatic system of thinking that is often immediate. The sleepy executive is a slow, deliberate system of thinking that considers the future. Most decisions we make are made by our autopilot which produces automatic thoughts that give permission and justification to eat or overeat. These automatic thoughts are also known as permission thoughts. Permission thoughts often sound persuasive and convincing but are mostly untrue and irrational.
Examples of permission thoughts: "I’ve had a long day, I deserve this." or "I’m not losing weight so I may as well." or " I’ll have this now and just eat less tomorrow."
Do these sound familiar to you?
We all have permission thoughts, but we can respond to them by developing our skills of Restraint! Restraint involves changing your thinking and behavior in moments of wanting and engaging that sleepy executive. Restraint is like a muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it becomes. It can strengthen over time with enough repetition. Eventually, you will be able to change the autopilot thinking and practice new restraint thinking that supports sustained behavioral change.
If you want to learn more about how to develop your own restraint skills for sustainable weight management, our experts can show you how! Contact the weight management experts at MWM!