Experts say your emotions could be making you fat 31



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For years doctors have focussed on Australia’s obesity epidemic from a physical point of view, telling patients to follow the time-honoured mantra of “eat less, exercise more”.

Now though, new research has revealed there is a strong link between your emotional state and your waistline.

Currently, Australia’s obesity rate sits at 62 per cent, with 71 per cent of men and 53 per cent of women falling into this category.

Emotional eating plays a huge role in this epidemic and doctors say ignoring this side of the issue is a dangerous approach.

Psychologist Dr Ali Dale says the emotional side of obesity is even more complex than the physical.

“My hope would be that there’s a greater awareness of the complexity of our relationship with food and that we start to move away from the just ‘eat less, exercise more’ type messages,” she told the ABC.

“The same messages just aren’t effective; just telling people to eat less and exercise more, because there’s more to it than that.

“There’s a whole brain science behind what drives people to comfort eat and there’s a psychology to that relationship.

“If it was that simple we wouldn’t have the challenges that we have.”

The Federal Government has spent $100 million on obesity campaigns in the past two years, but it has barely made a dent in the issue.

Dr Dale says there is also a link between your hormones and your desire to comfort eat.

“Over 90 per cent of Australian women who struggle with their weight comfort eat, we know that over 86 per cent of men again who struggle with their weight, they comfort eat,” she said.

“Even if it’s not a diagnosable mental health condition we know that if you’re overweight then you’re more likely to have certain hormones released into your system and you’re more likely to look for high fat, high sugar foods.

“If you’re eating high fat, high sugar foods you gain more weight.

“We know that society judges you, you don’t move as easily and so therefore you feel worse about yourself but then that releases those same hormones which drives us to comfort eat even more.”

She says the best way to counteract your desire to comfort eat is to have a scheduled and organised eating plan to remove the compulsion to reach for the treats when you’re in need of comfort.

Eating out of boredom, stress, or depression is a huge contributor to obesity and reducing your chances of succumbing to these emotions can drastically help control your weight.

“We make most of them [food decisions] out of habit and a lot of them are driven by our emotional state.

“If we can raise awareness of the role of emotions, the role of availability within our own homes of high fat, high sugar foods we can give people some strategies to reduce that.

“Really simple strategies like, reduce the number of food related decisions you have to make every day, look for a structured program that helps you to reduce those food related decisions then we know that people have a much greater likelihood of success.”

Do you ever find yourself ‘comfort eating’? Do you think your emotions affect your weight?

Starts at 60 Writers

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  1. Our metabalism slows as we age and many get a more sedentary life style after they retire , but as for younger people, I just think they over eat and don’t do enough exercise

  2. I think it is right, I am on a diet have been for a couple of weeks, the weight is moving downwards, I am also walking twice a day on most days sometimes though only once. I’m determined to do it and too change my eating, have had no chocolate, biscuits or ice cream since I’ve been doing this and I’m not craving either of them so much now, I’m feeling very proud of myself

    4 REPLY
    • Well done great positive attitude today is a good day for myself to start a more healthy life style keep on with good work

    • Just been for my first walk best time of the day to walk 3/4 hour will do another one this afternoon, I really feel as though I’m achieving something, I am so happy bring able to do this

    • You should feel proud and today after reading your efforts I am going to try to do something myself in the way of cutting my portion sizes and exercising so thank you for posting.

  3. Stop making excuses. Limit your food intake, get off your fat bum and exercise!!!!

    5 REPLY
  4. Mmm it’s a bit slow, but my sister and I watch our food intake carefully through the week, but relax and have a dessert of a weekend.

    2 REPLY
    • We actually haven’t gone on a special diet either, we live on a farm. So plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, chickens eggs and usually a side of beef every year. We’ve cut down on our portions by half.

  5. Yes I am not Hungry but always looking for sweet food thus over weight this also comes with low self esteem so circle goes around

  6. It sounds very sensible; our subconscious has a large & often unrecognised effect on all our behaviours & motivations.

  7. It’s spot on, emotional eating is a big problem, some people when stressed, will comfort eat, I know because I am one of them.

  8. denial denial denial—-it’s what you put in your mouth that makes you fat–calories in calories out !!!

    2 REPLY
    • Denial is with the general population that they are not fat– call it as it is for everyone’s health– medications are not the answer

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