The reasons why people gain weight are numerous and complex, which make losing weight difficult for many to conquer successfully; yet, it can be done.
Still, it’s not so much the losing weight that is difficult; the difficulty that many people encounter with weight loss is keeping it off. However, while it is not easy, this too can also be successfully achieved when you gain knowledge and develop healthier lifestyle habits. It starts with commitment and belief and is sustained with consistency.
ADDRESS WHAT’S EATING YOU & KEEP THE WEIGHT OFF
This is where I take a step back and explain why DIETS DON’T WORK in the long run for most people.
- Most diets don’t address the unhealthy relationship you have with food.
- Another reason diets fail is that they try to restrict what you can eat, and deprivation will ultimately backfire.
DEPRIVATION WARPS YOUR MIND
Think about the times your parents told you “NO”, what happened? You wanted it even more and went to great lengths to get it. That is what happens when you deprive yourself, you become so fixated on having food that you will ultimately eat the food you wanted and more.
HOW DO YOU RELATE TO FOOD?
My relationship with food changed drastically between the ages of ten and fourteen when we were sent to live in the country with relatives. For four years, we were starved. I learned to steal food to feed my brother and sisters and often went without food so the younger ones would have what little there was.
Never knowing if we would have food from one day to the next, I developed anxiety and suffered from food insecurity. Many days I went to school so hungry I could barely think and when we eventually arrived in the USA, we were severely malnourished.
MY UNHEALTHY RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD REVEALED
Suddenly, we had food all around us with no restrictions. I lost control. I ate just to eat and often because I feared there would be no food the next day. I no longer paid attention to the signals my body sent me to stop. I thought about food all the time, used food to solve my problems, ate in secret, and often felt guilty after eating (I had developed an unhealthy relationship with food).
If you have struggled with your weight, carefully and honestly examine your relationship with food. You may discover that you have also developed an unhealthy relationship with food.
HEAL YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD
- To do this you need to understand that food, like medicine, should only be taken as prescribed for you to get the optimal benefits; yet, that is not enough.
- The underlying unresolved emotional issues must also be addressed.
GET BACK TO BASICS: E.A.T.
- Eat only when physiologically hungry, which may require re-training yourself to listen to your body and this is where being mindful comes into play.
- Don’t overeat, stop when your body signals it has had enough (again, being mindful will help you notice the sensation of fullness).
- Practice e.a.t. when eating, make the effort to chew completely, be aware of the experience, and take your time (put the fork down between bites).
- Recognize your emotional needs and fulfill them without the use of food.
You will be surprised to realize that you do not not need a large amount of food to feel physically satisfied; however, if you are eating for emotional reasons, you will often overeat and still not be satisfied.
USE FOOD FOR NUTRITIONAL PURPOSES ONLY
You cannot use antibiotics to treat elevated cholesterol; thus, it stands to reason, food is not the treatment for your emotional issues. If after self-examination you discover that you have unresolved emotional/psychological issues that you are struggling with, consider getting the help of a professional.
Many people shy away from therapy, but again, if you have struggled for years on your own and have not found the solution, it is time to try a different approach.
If you have struggled with your weight, you must also recognize the triggers that can cause you to spiral out of control.
FIND A HEALTHIER BALANCE
The key is not to obsess about it, but to find a healthy balance through awareness. Learn to be aware when you are feeling tired, excessively stressed, or any of the non-physiological hunger cues that may push you to reach for food.
Find healthier ways to handle these cues (rest when tired; meditate when stressed; pray when angry or frustrated; talk to a friend when feeling lonely or in need of connection; or simply listen to music). There are so many other healthier options available to you than reaching for food.
Be mindful of your emotional needs and learn to treat them with compassion and not food. I use mindfulness to ask myself “What and why am I feeling right now?” Then I use that information to make healthier choices.