Emotional health

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To lose weight, first understand why you gained it

Most diet programs focus on how to reach your ideal weight, but don't provide you with the tools to sustain it. If you've experienced yo-yo dieting in the past, you understand how easy it is to return to your old habits once the diet has ended. Lasting changes can only be made when you are empowered with the tools to change your attitude towards food and the way you respond to certain situations.

In a guest post on OpposingViews,com, internationally renowned scientist and author Judith Wurtman identifies four situations that commonly trigger overeating. Wurtman, who has written five books and counsels weight-loss clients, notes that dieters — even those who have the assistance of a LAP-BAND or another form of weight-loss surgery — are likely to regain weight unless they develop strategies to control their overeating.

  1. Too much to do and too little time. When life feels overwhelming, many people turn to food to cope with the stress. If you find yourself overeating due to impossible schedules and a chaotic home life, you may need help getting your life under control before you can effectively address your eating behavior. Wurtman notes this is often possible with the help of family or a professional such as a life coach. Get the kids to help more with chores and look for other ways you can simplify your life.
  2. Work-related stress. Stress on the job is a fact of life for many people, especially in an economy where leaving a negative work situation may be difficult. Fear of unemployment, toxic work environments, demeaning bosses, demanding work schedules — all of these can add up to a seemingly insurmountable stress level that many people handle with food. Wurtman advises seeking help from someone trained to deal with work problems. In some cases, finding a new job may be the best solution, especially if you work around food.
  3. Family and social issues. If your overeating is a result of chronic problems in your relationships, you may need to establish a reliable support system to help you cope and avoid overeating when situations arise. Problems that have contributed to years of unhealthy eating habits will take time to resolve, but recognizing your reaction to them is the first step towards formulating healthier habits.
  4. Sabotage by yourself or others. Sometimes, you may find your weight-loss efforts thwarted by others in your life who are jealous or have not been as successful. Work with your counselor to develop a response to friends or family members who encourage you to eat more or imply that your current diet isn't healthy. Wurtman also notes that her clients are often uncomfortable with the attention they receive after losing weight, and sometimes intentionally regain it in order to avoid these unfamiliar social situations.

Sustaining your weight can often be more difficult than losing it. Your LAP-BAND is a tool that will help you with the first step, but for long-term success, be sure you are receiving the support you need even after the weight starts to come off.

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