The term emotional eater is recognized today by the scientific community as a trait that can be quantified and treated. It is a behavior where one eats to feed his/her emotions rather than the actual, physiological hunger. Many obesity cases have their routes to emotional eating rather than others. Obesity effective treatment, once and for all, begins when the person understands and realizes that no unique, new, “perfect”, magical solution or pill will cure the tendency to eat, accumulate calories, and reproduce the same brain model of reward through food.
Maybe because I eat a lot, maybe because I do not stop eating, and maybe because…I just like eating! Yes. These are the obvious answers to the question of why I have so much trouble controlling my weight and losing weight; why I always get pounds easily and why it’s so hard for me to lose them. Similarly, the obvious “easy” answers or solutions that I am used to listening to when “someone” is willing (or not) to help me lose my extra weight are: “… stop eating meat, stop eating bread, sugar, flour, count calories, start the gym, drink this tea, take this supplement, cut the dinner, start meditation …”. And when all these “easy”, unique solutions do not work, when the pounds do not leave, or worse, when they leave, and when they return, the same “someone” continues to help me by saying “… you were wrong, you have no will, you did not try hard enough, there is something else, there is something new, something you have to correct … “.
The big secret about obesity is one: IT DOES NOT ACTUALLY EXIST. There is no secret.
The cause of obesity, the cause of why I eat a lot, the cause of why I cannot lose pounds is not only one but is many. The causes are too many, complicated, complementary to each other, and interdependent. Obesity is a multi-disciplinary disease with complex and multiple causes that requires a multi-disciplinary treatment and approach. Starting from our DNA, our genetic sensitivities, our genes, and continuing to dietary and lifestyle modifications and psychology that surround modern obesogenic environments.
The big reason why I cannot control my weight is all the above, all the myths and nutrition guidelines that I have been doing well or not, all of the genetic sensitivities that I have never learned to interpret but I have let them influence and win the “battle”. All the above, the peculiarities of my character, my personality, my work, my family, my habits, my friends, my society, all these ingredients and many more, work together in harmony, synergistically and from an early age to shape what is called an obesogenic environment that has worked silently for me, and without me, and which accompanies me throughout my life.
The essential treatment of obesity is much deeper and it is not only related to physical hunger that comes from the stomach but also to emotional hunger that comes from the brain. Emotional hunger fulfills emotional emptiness or needs, whether physical hunger fills the stomach as gasoline fills our car’s deposit. Effective obesity treatment takes time, persistence, and starts from the moment the person understands that obesity is a behavioral and lifestyle disorder.
At that moment, the person will want to start changing and correcting the essence of this disorder: behavior and lifestyle. The corrections include much more than the gym, bread, and meat portions. These corrections include feelings, empowerment, self-confidence, reward, self-realization, hormones, DNA, and much more than our plate can fit. Obesity effective treatment needs time and this time depends on each one’s needs. The time required is not something we have but something we make. We can make time when we place ourselves at the forefront when we make ourselves a priority. Then, we will be able to defeat obesity. Yes. Yes, it is our choice. A choice of the difficult ones, the painful ones, the ones that mobilize things and make the time that passes, counts.
If you have a problem with obesity and chronic extra weight, do not be disappointed, and do not look for magical solutions or magic pills. Look for the causes, and not just the symptoms. You can help yourself, you can change and you can deal with obesity.
By Dr. Valentini Konstantinidou, RDN, MSc, PhD.