In the last several years, it has been noted that in the western world, people are becoming more overweight and this has detrimental consequences on a person’s health and well-being. obesity as become a major health problem and to tackle the obesity problem, there has to be an effective weight-loss programme that incorporates good nutrition/exercise.
However, for some people, poor diet and a lack of activity may be caused by psychological factors that are difficult to overcome. Obesity may have underlying causes that are not necessarily obvious. Nevertheless, psychotherapy can unlock the problems of overeating and help with weight-loss.
Successful weight-loss requires a set of solutions to treat both the mental/physical problems of obesity. Trying to treat obesity with diet alone will not always alter the behaviour that triggers the desire to eat. Nor will a healthy diet necessarily boost self-esteem/confidence. These are psychological problems that need to be addressed and psychotherapy for obesity can help do that.
Being obese/overweight can cause a person to have very low self-esteem. Occasionally, low self-esteem was a contributory factor in becoming obese and so the individual finds themselves in a vicious circle, the more they eat, the worse their self-esteem becomes. In this case, trying to treat the physical symptoms of obesity may be problematic without addressing the deep-rooted psychological problem. The psychotherapist works with the client to identify the cause of their obesity problem and improve their confidence and outlook on life.
Some people require drastic surgical measures to help lose weight (stomach-stapling/gastric-bypass). Anyone facing surgery suffers psychological strain and many people find that the idea of a ‘new body’ through implants is an invasion on their person. Obesity surgery requires a mental preparation before the procedure and a period of recovery counselling afterwards. Psychotherapy complements conventional treatments by talking through the process and the possible outcomes. Altering negative thoughts about surgery and its after-effects is an important way to help people with the physical changes they are about to undergo.
The psychotherapist will examine the behavioural patterns that are associated with excessive eating leading to obesity. Feelings of constant hunger and the need to snack can come from a restrictive diet that has been prescribed for the weight-loss programme. This causes a dysfunction in the eating habit as the diet is inappropriate. Compulsive eating may be a way of coping with stress/pressure and creates a haphazard eating pattern. Psychotherapy can help to establish a mealtime routine that will prove extremely beneficial to losing weight.
The psychotherapist lays out simple principles for weight loss.
- Self-control and monitoring food intake.
- Setting realistic goals for losing weight that will not be detrimental to the client‘s health.
- Help to recognise signals of wanting to eat outside of the regular eating pattern.
© 2012 – 2015, Content: Dr Vasilios Silivistris – Artwork: Ian Francis. All rights reserved.