OBESITY AND STRESS

A recent client asked to be hypnotized for weight loss. He said that he eats too much, and he knows why. It’s because his relationship with his wife is so tense, she is so domineering and abusive, that he feels he “deserves” to reward himself with delicious food, and lots of it, just for putting up with her.

Would it be out of line to take a wild guess that, at one time or another, many of us have done something similar? Eating for a specific reason: to feel better. It’s known as “emotional eating”. You’ve heard the phrase, “comfort food”, the food we know and love, which makes us feel calm when we’re stressed. Tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. A burger and fries. A bowl of chili. Fried chicken. Mashed potatoes. Cheesecake. Ice cream. Chocolate. Oh, yeah. Sweet. Fatty. Salty.

There’s a reason that stress-related food cravings don’t usually lean toward broccoli, alfalfa sprouts or tofu. If you’re interested, please keep reading.

Let’s be honest. Many of us have pigged out at some time in our lives because we felt crummy. Now, the question is: do we know why that happens? Well, somewhat.

No single cause applies to every overweight child or adult. However, reliable research has led experts to conclude that overeating and weight gain is connected to poorly managed stress. Furthermore, it is generally agreed that psychological and biological factors, in addition to social factors, should be taken into consideration when trying to deal with the problem. And this is not just about folks who were ‘chubby’ from birth. Stress-related weight gain can happen to people who have maintained a healthy weight for most of their lives.

The connection between poorly managed stress applies to children, as well as adults, and is well documented:

“Psychological stress in the family may be a contributing factor for childhood obesity. This finding underscores how important it is to give children with obesity and their families psychological and social support in addition to recommendations about changing life style.” -The Journal of Pediatrics, Volume 153, Issue 6, December 2008

As for biological explanations, it appears that people who mismanage stressful situations are likely to experience the reaction that activates the “fight or flight” hormones.

“Stress also seems to affect food preferences. Numerous studies — granted, many of them in animals — have shown that physical or emotional distress increases the intake of food high in fat, sugar, or both. High cortisol levels, in combination with high insulin levels, may be responsible. Other research suggests that ghrelin, a ‘hunger hormone’, may have a role.

… These foods really are “comfort” foods in that they seem to counteract stress — and this may contribute to people’s stress-induced craving for those foods.” – Harvard Health Publications, Harvard Medical School
See the entire article here: http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/why-stress-causes-people-to-overeat

Obesity is a national health problem. The health information is readily available, so most people should know how obesity can affect their health and what they should do about it. But the average person doesn’t hear much about how to help an overweight child.

If your child is overweight or obese, and you’re ready to address it, look up the research done by the Oregon Research Institute on what works and what doesn’t work in treating childhood obesity. The site is listed below:

http://www.ori.org/research/detail/communities_and_schools_together_for_childhood_obesity_prevention

The number of health problems associated with poorly managed stress – not just obesity – seems to be growing every year. It is in everyone’s interest to learn to cope with and to manage stress effectively for themselves and for their children.

I have been helping people to relax, let go of stress and to feel better in general, since 2004. In addition I’ve helped people lose weight through the use of hypnosis. If you think stress could be keeping you from feeling your best and reaching your full potential, please call for a no-cost consultation: 219-309-3928.

It will be an honor and privilege to be of service.