Watch Dr. Sylvia describe some of the ways overeating can start and why it can be so difficult to overcome - click here.
With one third of Americans meeting the medical definition of “obese,” we are struggling as a society to understand how to manage our relationship with food. Lifelong weight issues can sometimes be caused by metabolic issues or other medical problems. However for those of us without medical issues, we must be aware of some key issues with how we treat food that prevent us from weight management success:
Our relationship with food begins at birth. As infants, we learn that food quiets our rumbling tummies, is pleasurable, and can even bring a certain degree of comfort. Food begins to be associated with security, wellbeing, and happiness from an early age.
Like the air we breathe, we cannot escape the need to eat food. We can’t “give it up” or swear to never touch it again like drugs or alcohol. The fact that food is unavoidable is one reason why we struggle with it.
Eating To Soothe
Since food is so centrally associated with feelings of comfort early in life, many of us tend to use it to regulate or soothe difficult emotions. Since our emotional math is simplistic as children (such as,“I’ll eat this to feel better”) it is understandable why overeating becomes so entrenched early in life as a coping skill.
Whenever we gain weight, there is an automatic emotional cost. Self-loathing and anger are common. We then overeat to regulate the negative feelings that come from unwanted weight gain. Round and round we go, and the cycle can overwhelm us before we know what’s happened.
Many of us who struggle with food develop Binge Eating Disorder in which we lose control over how much we eat. Here are some of the symptoms of BED:
- Overeating in a rapid fashion
- Regularly overeating at meals and in between
- Rituals with food such as eating only in the car or secretive eating behaviors
- Feelings of shame and disgust
Weight loss can be sabotaged by significant psychological and emotional challenges. If you know someone who is struggling with the psychological aspects of weight loss, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.
"The Beck Diet Solution" Series by Dr. Judith Beck