“I’m so fat. My life has changed since I have gained weight. I am jealous of my slim friends,”
More often, an underlying emotional dysfunction causes excessive weight gain. Says Sarah Mustillo, Duke University Medical Centre, UK, “It’s probably a combination of social and biological factors. There is an interaction between what is outside your body and what’s inside. Obesity carries a large social stigma and may lead to depression if it negatively affects self-esteem, body image or social mobility. It may even disrupt the normal hormonal pathways.”
Says Dr Mukesh Batra, “In many cases, food constitutes emotional deprivation. Many people eat to compensate for lack of love and affection. Some people lose appetite when under stress or depression, others tend to eat more.”
Obesity can cause painful emotional suffering. This is because of the success associated with slimness and beauty. Says Dr Geeta Joshi, clinical psychologist, “Psychological manifestation of obesity is depression, anger and irritability. There can be two types of obese individuals; one who is depressed but in denial. If you have a family history of obesity, for instance, you would be in complete acceptance of the situation and will carry on with your life, least bothered about your condition. The other person, is one who is aware of the obese condition and who worries how he/she can get over it and tries hard.”
Opines Dr Kainaz Cooper, clinical psychologist, BD Petit Parsi General Hospital, Mumbai, “Depression and inferiority complex are more common in ‘modern’ women, especially in those who suffer from metabolic problems. Low self-confidence, discrimination, labeling and fewer friends - is common in obese children.”
If you are overweight or obese, cultivate a positive attitude before you shed those unwanted kilos. Says Dr Joshi, “Tell yourself, I am not a loser. Be aware of the health repercussions of obesity. Psycho-education has a great impact on the ability to understand health issues. In addition to treating with medicines, counseling and cognitive behavioural therapy can be of great help.”
Agrees Dr Cooper, “Low esteem problems need to be dealt with psychotherapy and behavioural therapy. Also ‘yo-yo-ing’ of weight can be dangerous, you have to do something about it.”
Both cognitive-behavioral therapy, designed specifically to control disordered eating, and interpersonal therapy, originally intended for depression, has been shown to significantly reduce binge episodes. Eating becomes a habit and you resolve your distress through food. Identify what triggers your eating and substitute with other techniques to manage your difficulties. This will keep weight-gain at bay.
Obesity is a serious health hazard and acknowledged as a global epidemic.
India, a country struggling with malnutrition also houses the tenth largest overweight population in the world. Living in an era of fast cars, colas, computers and remote controls — lifestyle related diseases are the price we pay. While, genetic make up is a contributing factor, lifestlye becomes the deciding factor.
While fat serves important functions in the body, excess fat interferes with health. Certain guidelines help to decide whether one is entering the danger zone.
Body mass index (BMI): BMI is a formula that uses weight and height to estimate body fat and health risks. BMI between 19 and 24 is considered a healthy weight range for a given height. BMI between 25 and 29 is overweight. Figures of 30 or greater are categorised as obese.
Waist circumference: Depending on the body fat distribution pattern, shapes are defined.
most of the fat is around the waist or upper body. This suggests that there is more fat deposited around the abdominal organs. Abdominal fat increases risk of diseases associated with obesity.
most of the fat being around the hips and thighs or lower body. This is the preferred shape.
Waists of women waist should measure less than 35 inches. Men should be less than 40 inches at the waist.
STAY AWAY FROM THESE EATING TRIGGERS
Anger, anxiety, stress, fatigue, boredom, loneliness, depression
Eating because there is an opportunity; at a restaurant, seeing discount food ads, aroma of cakes and desserts, someone else is paying the bill
Making excuses for eating; lack of will power
Physiological eating due to headache, skipping meals, fasting, increased hunger
HOW TO COPE
Break the food habit. Distract yourself from eating. Do other activities such as walking, jogging, dancing or listening to music until the urge to overeat passes
Exercise,Yoga and deep breathing helps
Opt for individual or group psychotherapy
Reward yourself, if you are able to adopt coping strategies, by buying a new outfit or going on a vacation
Talk to others who are also struggling to lose weight
Maintain the feel-good feeling. Get support from family and friends