Q: Over the winter I usually gain weight, but by midsummer I’m able to burn it off. I work outside and go for walks. This year, I still have a few extra pounds that I just can’t seem to lose. I admit I overeat and that is likely the culprit. Do you have any ideas to help me?
A:It would be too trite to say just stop overeating. If you felt you could, you already would have. It’s more complex than that. I commend you for making an honest admission of the weight issue in acknowledging overeating. You’re on the right track to dropping those pounds.
There are many reasons why we overeat. By identifying your motivation, you can tailor a plan to curb the overindulgence. Some factors are: eating to self-soothe; eating quickly; stress; increased appetite as a medication side effect; boredom, habit, compulsive tendencies, and lack of awareness of hunger and satiation.
Here are a few ideas to consider: 1. Fill your mind with kind thoughts in this weight loss process. 2. Write down three healthy ways you will self-soothe, such as: recite uplifting affirmations (“I am able to achieve a healthy weight by keeping a loving attitude.”); call someone you trust for support. 3. Put your fork down between bites and thoroughly chew food before swallowing. 4. Remember that while it is good to enjoy food, the purpose of eating is to provide nutritious fuel to your body, without suffering later. 5. Review medications for appetite or weight-gain side effects with your doctor. 6. Spend time engaged in hobbies in place of eating. 7. Move tempting foods like chips and chocolate to a new storage place in your kitchen. When you reach for them by habit, they will not be there - affording you a few extra seconds to change your mind. 8. Compulsions are typically a manifestation of anxiety. Reassure yourself that you can solve worries better by picking up pen and paper instead of food. 9. Increase your awareness of hunger and satiation, by intently asking, “Do I feel hungry, do I feel full?” Listen to your body as a guide. Restricting when hungry can lead to binging later. Stick to portions and the number of servings appropriate for your body’s need – you don’t have to clean your plate. 10. Make time everyday for fun physical activity.
Disclaimer: Responses to questions are not to be construed as receiving, and are not a substitute for, psychological services, or treatment.
Questions to Sophie is a new question and answer column addressing reflections on work, family, friendship and personal issues. Send your questions to email@example.com or mail them to The Hamburg Item office. Please submit by the editorial deadline.
The column is by Suzanne Kline, a practicing psychologist born and raised in the Hamburg Area.