Back in the day, most doctors would recommend Americans follow the U.S. surgeon general’s guidelines for healthy weight. Plug your height and age into a calculator, and bazinga! Get your magical optimal weight guidelines.
Instead, many doctors ask patients to focus on the symptoms of obesity instead of the number on the scale. Focus on whole (not processed) foods, exercise, community engagement, and mindfulness instead.
There was a time when doctors believed that weight gain was caused by a lack of willpower and overindulgence. Today, we know that simply isn’t true. The media calls obesity an epidemic, but what is actually causing this epidemic?
More and more we’re starting to understand that obesity is similar to addiction and depression. We used to stigmatize all three of these health problems, equating them to ‘bad behavior’ or ‘lack of willpower’. Luckily, researchers are now taking a more holistic approach to biological conditions that are driven by the mind.
There was a time when the only symptom of weight gain was… gaining weight. Now we know that there’s an entire network of problems that leads to weight gain including:
We generally consider the most striking symptom of weight gain to be the weight itself (because it’s such a visual cue), but really the weight gain is often a symptom of something else altogether.
When it comes to weight management, hindsight is always 20/20. We can almost always look back at our lives after we’ve gained some weight and pinpoint exactly what caused the weight gain.
Weight gain is usually attributed to depression, anxiety, or other negative feelings. To numb these feelings, we turn to food — which gives us a boost of serotonin and dopamine as well as feelings of nostalgia.
To prevent future episodes, we recommend:
When it comes to a healthy lifestyle, community and professional support are important in treating weight gain. Just as seeing a psychiatrist or mental health professional (even when you’re feeling ‘good’) is important for mental health maintenance, finding a healthy food support system is equally important.
Just some of the treatments that can help prevent and reverse weight gain include:
Weight loss doesn’t need to be so painful and debilitating. There are plenty of professionals who have the tools to help you make the transition from emotional eating and eating disorders to embracing a healthy lifestyle.