Food for thought by Charmaine Arnold
Most of us expect to gain a few pounds on our summer holidays or at Christmas when we are tempted to eat that extra ice cream or have that extra portion of turkey. Gaining a few pounds at these times usually doesn’t take too long to lose but when we carry a great deal of extra weight all through the year, we can create serious long term problems for our bodies. Recent government figures state that 1 in 4 people are now seriously overweight and are in danger of suffering from Diabetes, Heart disease and Obesity.
So what are the solutions to the problems of carrying the kind of extra weight that may damage our health?
There are endless diets that tell us what we should and should not eat. Most of us have tried them and find that they are only effective for a short period of time and then the weight starts creeping on again. What most diets fail to address, I believe, are the reasons why we eat the extra food we do when we don’t need it. These reasons may be many and complex.
How would you respond to the following questions?
- Do I understand the nutritional value of food and why it is important to eat a balanced diet?
- Do I eat on the ‘run’, snacking because I believe I am too busy to allow myself the time to sit and eat when I really need to? Why can’t I give myself permission to do this?
- Do I eat when I am not hungry?
- Do I comfort eat? If I do, what am I trying to avoid facing in myself, or someone else, or a situation I can’t manage at the moment?
The questions posed above may sound challenging but if we are serious about achieving good health for ourselves, we need to understand the reasons why we don’t allow ourselves to be healthy. This is not always easy to do on our own, especially when we’re struggling to cope and help and support from others can be very useful. Exploring our thoughts and feelings with a qualified Counsellor provides the opportunity to do just this. Here at the Atrium Clinic, you will have the opportunity to think about how you can meet your future needs by identifying the triggers that are creating your eating patterns and finding the solutions to change these.
The following snapshots give examples of people who were controlled by the negative experiences of others and consequently sought comfort in food.
David (real name protected) was very frustrated at work. He had been working for the Company for ten years and was recently side lined for promotion by a younger colleague who had been with the Company for just two. David didn’t feel confident enough to discuss this situation with his manager and internalised his feelings of disappointment, rejection and anger. Instead he made several trips a day to the snack machine near his desk to buy fizzy drinks and chocolate, telling himself that he needed to keep his energy levels up to deal with his busy work load.
Amelia (again, her real name is protected) believed that all men were bad and couldn’t be trusted. She grew up with women who constantly criticised men and portrayed them as being only after ‘one thing’. Although Amelia yearned for a long term loving relationship, she was afraid to trust. She sought comfort on food: food wouldn’t let her down. Becoming overweight would keep her safe from the unwanted attentions of men. At the same time her need to be loved drove her to attempt diet after diet, but as soon as she began to lose weight and attract male attention she reverted to old eating habits to keep herself safe. Amelia lived in a state of frustration and unhappiness.
Through counselling, Amelia learnt how to face her fears and trust again.
Our experience of food can be very pleasurable, especially when we share a meal with family and friends. It can also be very distressing when we know we are carrying too much weight, never more so than when we have to face the difficult task of trying to find clothes to fit us. Taking the first step to change our thinking and habits may seem daunting but with the right help and support this can be achieved.
If you feel you would like some help with developing a healthier lifestyle, take a look one of our leaflets called Food Temptations on our website and call us today on 01702 715892 or leave a message on our Contact form