Weight gain is rarely just physical or just psychological. If someone is very big, it can also be hard to tell if any psychological problems are the cause of the weight gain or the effect. Do you worry that you have low self esteem? Well, who wouldn’t find it hard to keep positive when being constantly judged on their size, discriminated against in workplace and told they have no willpower? I think this is enough to get anyone down!
To help you work out what is going on for you, answer these simple questions:
Do you regularly eat when you are not hungry?
If so, there are psychological factors involved in your weight gain. Most people who consistently eat when not hungry will put on weight. This may seem obvious but there is no point just going on a calorie controlled diet if you are consistently using food for reasons other than hunger. The diet will just make things worse, because you are not addressing the cause of your problem. In fact the diet will probably make food even more emotionally significant than it was previously.
Do you mainly eat because you are hungry, but you just seem to be hungry all the time?
This may be more of a physical issue. If you are eating too many refined carbohydrates or processed “junk foods”, your body’s insulin cycle may be malfunctioning, causing you to get very hungry. Don’t assume that you need to be eating sweets and chocolate to get this effect. A “healthy” breakfast of cereal with skimmed milk can be one of the worst offenders. Try having scrambled eggs instead. Each person’s body is different so I can’t tell you what foods will work for you, but be kind to yourself and experiment to see what makes you feel better.
Do you find that you can’t tell when you’re hungry and when you’re not.
You may have got out of touch with your feelings of hunger through going on diets, or you may never have experienced these feelings clearly. Did you get hungry as a child? This may have psychological or physical reasons, but it is top priority to get back in touch with your hunger if you are to solve your weight problem. Have a look at our other articles for the one on the hunger scale.
Do you eat when hungry but have trouble stopping when you are satisfied? (You clean your plate)
This is probably just a habit, but it can be more deep rooted (if for example your parents praised you for finishing your food). Try eating very slowly, chewing your food thoroughly and putting your cutlery down between each mouthful. Keep checking whether or not you are still hungry. You will probably find that you eat a lot less!
To summarise, if you want to address your weight problems, you need to work out the cause of them. Going on a diet won’t do that – it will probably make matters worse. Everyone is different and you need to work out what approach will help you as an individual.
Roz Watkins, founder of the Enlighten Programme, is a professional coach, NLP Master Practitioner and hypnotherapist. She specialises in helping people lose weight and maintain a healthy slim weight WITHOUT DIETING. She can help you lose weight and keep it off for good by changing the way you think.