• Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Neuroplasticity

    How Can CBT Help You Lose Weight?

    “Cognitive-behavioral therapy is based on the idea that our thoughts cause our feelings and behaviors, not external things, like people, situations, and events. The benefit of this fact is that we can change the way we think to feel and act better even if the situation does not change.”*

    CBT has been widely studied and proven effective in thousands of clinical trials and is used to promote behavioral changes in people with many types of issues: depression, ADHD, anxiety, anger, stress, weight loss, disordered eating, and more.

    We apply this technique, or call it The Law of Attraction, in our curriculum to help you transform your ingrained Sabotaging Automatic Thoughts (or SATs), as we call them, into Positive Automatic Thoughts (or PATs). With The CogniDiet® Program you will learn to develop new PATs. You will write them, you will read them, you will visualize them every day. They will be tailored to your specific issues and will strengthen your power to say NO in even the most challenging situations

    Stop thinking “I have always failed and women cannot lose weight after 50″ because these thoughts will block your success. Replace it with ” I can do it this time, it’s never too late to succeed”. Then practice, practice, practice… And with our help you will start to see changes in your behaviors. AND you will lose weight.

    * Source: Website of NACBT (National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists ) NACBT.org May 2013

    How Can Neuroplasticity Help You Lose Weight?

    Neuroplasticity is the ability of your brain to change. And yes your brain can change even at 70 years old. The cells in your brain are mostly neurons. You must have almost 100 billion neurons in your brain. Every action that you perform in your daily life involves the activation of thousands, if not millions, of neurons.

    As an example, think about getting down the stairs. Your brain is receiving and analyzing thousands of information at a time and then firing back commands. You can really do it automatically, right? This is the basis of neuroplasticity. Your neurons are firing, they have created a wiring. You go down the stairs automatically.

    Any learning must always result in changes to the brain and for these changes to happen the brain must be plastic, which it is. The term that neuroscientists use for this malleable quality of the brain is called “plasticity”. The more often we do things in sequence or together the more the neurons responsible become accustomed to firing together. You create a pathway.

    Whatever your behaviors are, they have been created and learnt by you. If you have chronic stress, a phobia, a food addiction, a weight issue, usually you created your own circuit. You wired your brain.

    For instance, your brain has established your neuronal ‘stress’ circuit. To make things worse, if your mother gave you some sweets when you were stressed out or were sad as a kid (or to reward you for a good action), she created a circuit. So put the blame on her!

    The good news, though, is that we will use the very thing that is causing the problem — neuroplasticity — to eradicate your old behaviors. Now, to be totally transparent, this will require practice. Same thing as if you wanted to learn to play chess or tennis.

    The CogniDiet® Program created fun brain games and food & situations experiments that will help you rewire your brain and create new circuits. Alongside CBT, stress relief and nutritional education you can really rewire your brain and change old behaviors.

    Useful links:

    National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists


    The Beck Institute and Aaron Beck MD and Judy Beck PhD’s  books


  • De-stressing Exercises: Emotional Brain Training (EBT), Visualization Techniques, and More

    Stress relief is an important component of The CogniDiet® Program for multiple reasons:

    Nowadays stress is constant. And stress makes you fat.

    Stress used to be triggered infrequently, by the rare wild beast attack, violent thunderstorm, or the like. The brain evolved to respond to these threats with the flight or fight reaction. Then, when the threat subsided, your brain would settle back to a quieter state.

    But now stress is triggered nonstop.  It is the never-ending commute, the Christmas shopping, the security at the airport, the looming deadlines at the office, juggling family and work, you name it.  Constant stress has an impact on your mental and physical health.

    In a fight or flight situation, cortisol and adrenaline are released to trigger a cascade of chemical reactions.  They mobilize glucose  in the body to supply the extra energy required by the large muscles of the legs and arms. Your heart beat goes up, your body temperature rises, your senses get more acute. You’re in a state of intense alert. But you’re not actually running or fighting.

    That means that the extra glucose that was released to help support the physical exertion is not used up.  But your brain doesn’t know that – it thinks you need to replenish your stock. Time to reach for sugary foods such as candies, cookies, and chocolate!

    That’s why stress can make you fat.

    Your brain responds to imaginary situations just like real ones.    

    Here’s how Veronique explains it:  “Your brain is not as smart as you think. When you watch a scary movie, you know it is not for real, but you are still scared and jumping in your seat. Your adrenaline is released, your heart beat accelerates, your palms get sweaty. Yet you know you are safe.”

    Fortunately, the same principles of brain functioning that can get you into trouble and pack on the pounds can be turned around to work for your benefit.

    When you live through a stressful or difficult situation, your brain needs a break. It naturally seeks a hedonistic, pleasurable reward.  The quick and easy solution is to grab the nearest sugary snack, or even alcohol or drugs.

    What you need to do instead is choose a different type of pleasurable reward, even if it’s just one that you visualize.  Picture a happy scene – that last wonderful family reunion or vacation in the Grand Canyon. You think about it, you smile, you may even giggle.

    This is where the happy visualization technique comes in.

    Veronique continues: “In developing The CogniDiet® Program, I realized that just helping people develop and implement “Positive Automatic Thoughts” and learn about healthy nutrition and exercise was not enough. I myself led a very stressful career and lived the 4PM candy hunt too many times when multiple deadlines were looming at the same time.  So I searched for stress relief techniques. Of course I knew about meditation and yoga, breathing methods, meditative walks and other relaxation techniques. They are extremely effective but sometimes they require time.  I wanted something people could do every day, at any time, that would work in even a few quick minutes.

    “I found out about happy brain visualization methods and Emotional Brain Training (EBT) developed by Dr. Laurel Mellin, PhD, an Associate Clinical Professor of Community and Pediatric Medicine at the University of California, Berkeley. I have attached the links to her center and publications including her wonderful book called “Wired for Joy” that I highly recommend.”

    In the CogniDiet® Program, you’ll learn quick one to five minute meditation or visualization techniques to trick your brain to be happy and deflect cravings. This simple method gives a tremendous boost to the weight loss efforts of participants in The Cognidiet® Program.

    Useful links:

    • Dr. Laurel Mellin PhD and EBT:




    • The benefits of meditation:





  • Healthy Nutrition and Active Lifestyle

    Healthy Nutrition and Exercise

    Of course The CogniDiet® Program includes education about the basics of healthy nutrition and the benefits of exercising. In her private nutrition counseling practice, Veronique came to see that the food industry and media have a knack for twisting facts, and many people are filled with nutritional misinformation.  Even someone with a doctorate from Princeton could have misconceived notions about good dietary fat vs. bad fat or give themselves a free pass to eat low-fat snacks without realizing how high they are in sugar.

    Beginning in the second six sessions, The CogniDiet® Program includes dynamic, interactive workshops covering nutrition topics such as:

    • The role of each component of food including proteins, carbohydrates, fiber, and fats.
    • How these components interact synergistically and how you can use these interactions to help you control your appetite.
    • What constitutes a healthy serving size.
    • What calories mean to you personally, taking into account your age, gender, and activity level.
    • How to become your own food detective when shopping and reading product labels.

    You will also learn specific skills required to eat more mindfully and will conduct several self-awareness “experiments” during the program. For instance, you’ll  learn the difference between hunger and cravings, and discover what your specific triggers are.

    In addition, the program orients you to a lifetime of healthy physical activity. You will understand the impact exercise has on your body, including:

    • The power muscles have to boost your metabolism
    • The varied sports and activities – including some you’ve never thought of – appropriate at any age.
    • The stress relief and energetic benefit of exercising
    • The impact of exercising on controlling your food cravings