How to Control Weight and Manage Cravings

Controlling weight involves balancing calories and eating the right amount to fuel your body. This includes avoiding yo-yo dieting and finding ways to manage cravings.

Psychologists often work with individuals struggling to maintain a healthy weight. This may be as part of their private practice or in a hospital or other health care setting.


Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, regardless of your weight. Whether you participate in team sports, take a jog or dance, all physical activity helps you burn calories. Exercising can also reduce your risk for certain diseases, improve your mood and increase strength and flexibility. However, it is important to know what types of exercises are best for your body. A doctor can recommend specific exercises that will work well for you. Regular exercise also requires consistency. Trying to exercise once or twice a week won’t give you the comprehensive results you need to control your weight.

Reduce Screen Time

The time you spend watching TV, using computers or playing video games is often time that could be better spent being physically active. Studies show that excessive screen time is associated with sedentary behaviors, unfavorable dietary habits and disrupted sleep.

Children who watch TV and play video games have less time for physical activities and are more likely to be overweight. Exposure to media violence may also desensitize children to the seriousness of violent behavior and teach them that it is a normal way to solve problems.

Limiting screen time is important for everyone, but it’s especially important for kids and teens. Start by monitoring your family’s total screen time (TV, DVD, computer and handheld electronic devices) and setting a goal to reduce it.

Watch Portion Sizes

Portion sizes are an important element of a healthy diet, as they help people stay within their daily energy needs and avoid overeating. While there are many tools available to measure portions, such as food scales or measuring cups, people can also learn portion sizes by comparing them to everyday objects like their hand. The palm of one’s hand can be used to measure servings of protein, while a fist can be used to determine the size of carbohydrate servings. A thumb and fingers can be used to measure servings of salad dressing, oil or nut butter.

Increasing awareness about how much they are eating can help people tune into their internal hunger and fullness cues, which in turn can reduce overeating and support weight loss.

Manage Stress

Stress may be one of the most significant barriers to healthy eating and exercise. It raises the hormone cortisol, which makes your body store fat for energy and changes your immune system. It also messes with the endocrine system, raising adrenaline and decreasing the hormone leptin (which signals satiety). Stress can increase cravings for fatty, sugary foods and reduce your appetite for nutrient-rich ones.

Learning to manage stress, whether through meditation, yoga or even a quick walk in the park, can help you control your weight. Similarly, if your stress comes from taking on too much at home or work, try to learn how to say no and ask for help. Seeing a counselor or psychologist could be helpful as well, depending on the source of your stress.

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