Psychological Issues and Weight Challenges

More often than not, people in our society who are experiencing challenging weight issues truly need to explore the underlying psychological state or emotional turmoil they may find themselves in.

It is a well known fact that depression is closely associated with eating disorders.  These disorders include obesity as well as binge eating and anorexia.  Different people react to depression in different ways.  The majority turn to food in order to comfort themselves, thus relieving, albeit temporarily, the bad feelings depression brings with it.  Others, and certainly the minority, do exactly the opposite.  They respond to strong emotion by avoiding food altogether.  Both situations can cause serious consequences to one’s health and lead to a spiral into an even deeper depression.  Often depression can cause stress or be caused by stress.  This stress can lead to unhealthy eating which in turn leads to a less energetic individual eliminating the likelihood of exercise being a daily routine.  The combination of eating for comfort and lack of exercise is absolutely going to result in weight gain which can exacerbate the depression.

Emotional eating is a symptom of a deeper emotional issue one may be experiencing.  While physical hunger comes on gradually and can be easily put off for the time being, emotional hunger tends to appear suddenly and needs to be satisfied immediately.  It is obvious that if one eats when the body is not truly hungry, and does this often, weight gain will be the result.  Some of the triggers of emotional eating can include unemployment, relationship troubles, financial hardship, boredom, and fatigue.  There is a danger of falling into a vicious cycle of eating for comfort (to feel better) and becoming upset with oneself for overeating.  This can lead to feeling badly and eating for comfort again in order to alleviate those bad feelings.  The cycle must be recognized before it can be broken.

Some people actually eat due to an issue with insecurity and low self-esteem.  This may be a mechanism to protect oneself from potentially harmful relationships.  It may be an issue of hiding behind or within an overweight body without truly being aware of the unconscious sabotage taking place.

Finally, some weight problems that are caused by deeply rooted psychological issues may be traced to childhood.  If your parents or grandparents expressed love and approval through food, you may still be associating the two.  It may be that food was seen as a reward or even a punishment during childhood.  This often follows well into adulthood.  We need to remember that love and food are not synonymous.  What is the saying?  “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.”  Not true.

We as a society need to stop sending forth the message that only thin, fit people are deserving of the high life, of happiness, of great relationships, and of love.  These ideas are instilling the wrong message in our children and young adults and could be causing much more severe psychological damage than we acknowledge.  This psychological aspect seems to be a leader in the creation of the overweight, sedentary, and ultimately unhealthy population present today.

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