This ‘change the way you eat’ plan keeps pushing me to think differently about not just eating, but also how I approach food. A few weeks ago it introduced the idea that if your ‘Vital Needs’ are met, you will have less stress and be less likely to reach for comfort foods. Less stress also fits into not just eating less, but enjoying life more.

When I watched this particular program video, I thought back to a random Psych class in the early 80s when the professor talked about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

If you took any psychology in university the chances are good that your class syllabus included some time on Abraham Maslow and the inverted triangle with “Self-Actualization” at the pinnacle. Maslow, as a humanist, focused on happiness, not on abnormal psychology. He studied people who were well adjusted, because he felt it was important to learn from those who were doing the right things. Or at least that’s what I recall …


Representation of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Courtesy Wikipedia


The consulting psychologist on this eating program tells us that we each have 7 “Vital Needs”. If we meet those Vital Needs, our anxiety and stress levels will drop and we will not turn towards comfort in the form of destructive habits such as overeating, drug abuse, etc.

All of this makes perfect sense. When do most of us overeat? When we’re anxious or stressed. (Boredom is another thing altogether, and to fight it you have totally different strategies.)

The program provided a list of 20 various Vital Needs and the assignment a couple of weeks ago was to go through the list and pick out my 7 Vital Needs. Most of the needs they offered are  in the Esteem level of the hierarchy shown above, but there are a few that are even more basic, such as “sufficient sleep” and “financial security”. The guide book gives nice little summaries of each need, but I’m clearly not very enlightened because it took me hours and hours to figure out my 7.

Can Past Success Guarantee Future Results?

In this case, I suspect it may. Stick with me here …

While going through this assignment I thought about the two instances when I made major changes in my weight. The last time was 10 years ago. What was different then? A lot, primarily I wasn’t working; I was finishing my degree, and we were living in a new city. Honestly, at that time I had no problem staying on a program (Weight Watchers) and losing weight. It was like magic! When I went back to work several months later (at a brokerage house) I immediately began putting the weight back on. So I looked at the vital needs list with that in mind and was pretty quickly able to come up with my 7. I’m not saying this is the end-all and be-all, but it’s a start.

  1. Personal Time: Time to ‘do your own thing’.
  2. Having a Project: Being creatively involved with ideas for yourself, home or community.
  3. Variety of Experiences: The need for something new and different. High need for change in surroundings, job descriptions, or projects.
  4. Movement: Daily need for walking, sports or exercise.
  5. Approval and Acceptance: from coworkers, family, or friends.
  6. Listening to Music, or playing music.
  7. Order and Closure: Dislike of open-ended situations, tasks, affairs, projects or goals.  (This is my number 1.)


Now I need how to figure out how to meet those Vital Needs every day.  More pondering! But already I feel empowered. If this whole theory really works, my life is about to get better!

Are there things that you know you need to do every day to lessen your stress, or make your day better?



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s