Welcome to this complex arena where you will hopefully find some information that begins to help you make sense of any food-related issues you are struggling with.
How to lose weight
The saying “we are what we eat” makes a lot of sense when you consider body composition of muscle and fat. And however much you “believe” a new diet, exercise regime or eating approach can help you lose fat, without allowances for the “non-rational and emotional” aspects of who you are, it is very unlikely that you will be successful in reducing body weight and then sustaining a desirable body size and shape. However, successful and sustained weight loss is indeed possible with the right information and a willingness to make some permanent changes in lifestyle.
Nutrition for weight loss
The problem with many diets is not the diet itself but the fact that the diet stops! A balanced diet is designed to encourage a loss of weight without compromising the body’s daily requirement for essential dietary nutrients and is often successful for a period. When people follow diets they often improve their intake of healthy nutrients but sadly once they have achieved a certain goal, they tend to revert to former eating patterns and guess what………in the majority of cases they regain weight and with time start to notice extra fat, feel miserable and start planning another diet. When you lose weight you also reduce the overall number of calories that your body requires to sustain a certain size and if you increase this, you will regain weight. This is where lifestyle change is imperative to sustaining weight loss. In other words, a balanced diet is for life, not just for initial weight loss. But there’s no need to despair about a permanent loss of indulgent treats. If you follow the 80-20 principle, then 20% of the time you can enjoy fun foods providing you eat “clean” for 80%. Here is a example of clean and fun foods:
|80% (‘Clean’ Foods and drinks)|
Fruit – apples, pears, bananas, oranges, mangos, melon
Organic poultry, meat
Nuts – almonds, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts
Vegetables – cabbage, broccoli, carrot, spring greens, kale
Oily fish – salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, sardines
Seeds – sunflower, linseed, pumpkin, chia
Full Fat Dairy Products
Pulses: lentils, beans
Free Range Eggs
Wholegrains – quinoa, brown rice, millet, oats
1.6-2 litres of fluid including water
20% (‘Fun’ Foods and drinks)
Preservatives & Additives
You may not realise how clever the body is in driving us towards nutritional balance. Brain chemicals can stimulate hunger if a person is excluding a key food group such as “carbohydrate, fat or protein” because each of these food groups is necessary to maintain body health. A balanced diet requires carbohydrate for energy, protein for body growth and repair and healthy fats (unsaturated and monounsaturated) for a range of functions including energy storage, vitamin absorption and brain health.
When does concern about the way you eat and your eating behaviour become an actual eating disorder? There are many diagnostic guidelines presented in DSM (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association). Where an eating disorder is diagnosed, an individual may seem to have lost control over their dietary intake either undereating or overeating with compensatory behaviours such as purging being used. Such an individual’s relationship with food will have become problematic in some way, compromising physical health and leading to high levels of anxiety, depression, secrecy, low self esteem and body image issues for example.
The inner world of a person with an eating disorder may be very lonely and bleak in which they feel isolated from others, helpless and hopeless. Often they may be misjudged by friends and family who struggle to appreciate what they are experiencing. Some of the main types of eating disorders include the following:
BED or Binge Eating Disorder: Here a person may typically find themselves losing control possibly in response to some trigger, consuming large amounts of food until a feeling of fullness eventually stops them. They may then be overwhelmed with a sense of guilt, possibly berating themselves and feeling useless. Many sufferers search how to stop binge eating, compulsive eating or overeating desperate for help in overcoming binge eating.
Bulimia: This is a condition where people who binge then try to purge themselves of excess calories by self-induced vomiting, the use of laxatives, food restriction or excess exercise. The biochemical imbalance of purging methods stimulate further bingeing and side effects that lead many people to seek bulimia recovery and support. Overcoming bulimia and bulimia symptoms becomes a vital journey of eating control and life balance.
Anorexia: With anorexia, sufferers often have an intense aversion to fat and attempt to restrict food and exercise to extremes in order to reduce body size. Those affected are often under 20 and may be male or female. Symptoms of anorexia nervosa may be devastating to an individual who may become a physical shadow of their former selves, lost within an inner world where a controlling and critical “voice” may dominate and drive food restriction. Where body weight falls under a healthy range, individuals may need to be hospitalised for treatment.
OSFED or Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder: This is the most common type of eating disorder and involves a mix of binge eating, bulimia and anorexia behaviours.
Warning Signs: if you are worrying whether you yourself have an eating disorder or about a close friend or family member, here are some obvious behaviours that may be present:
- A significant loss of weight
- Hiding weight loss through oversized or loose clothing
- Eating very small amounts and rearranging food rather than eating it
- Preferring to eat alone, avoiding family mealtimes or meals out with others
- Lying about having eaten and how much
- Avoiding the truth about their weight
- Eating very quickly without seeming to pause for air, gulping food, not chewing, eating large amounts
- Using the bathroom during and after meals often, appearing flushed afterwards
- Becoming obsessive about exercising either at home or outside, possibly at unsociable hours
If you recognise any of these warning signs in yourself or someone else, you may consider exploring treatment to help you regain control.
At The Hove Counselling Practice in Brighton and Hove, we offer specialised Eating Disorder Treatment that will firstly involve an in-depth assessment of a person’s eating behaviour and life circumstances. This will provide opportunity to identify the main factors involved in perpetuating an individual’s eating disorder and, over time, these will be addressed. Such factors might include habit, emotional processing, mindset and relationships, to name a few. Throughout treatment, there will be focus upon helping a person beat eating disorders and regain control over eating through nutritional guidance, support and encouragement.