Often, people struggle to lose weight. A statement from medical professionals that I find frustrating is when they imply that losing weight is simple and that by reducing calories consumed, you will lose weight. I believe what medical professionals sometimes forget is that people have to fundamentally change their relationship with food, including their overall lifestyle, to reduce their calorie intake. I know from experience that it can be challenging to lose weight. It can be quite difficult to give up the foods that make you feel good. For me, stopping at Wendy’s and eating a chili in between appointments helped me reduce stress. Some people may believe that eating healthy foods will not taste good or will not be fulfilling. Additionally, one may choose to incorporate exercise as another healthy habit but may actually dread exercise and dislike going to the gym.
When I begin working with a client whose goal is to lose weight, I assist them to recognize short-term rewards versus focusing on the long-term goal of actually losing the weight. Though high-fat foods may make us feel better at first, what people often do not realize is high-fat foods may actually make a person feel physically ill and decrease energy levels and mood. Furthermore, because high-fat food often has low nutritional value, individuals tend to still be hungry after eating. I experienced shame after continuing to eat after having consumed a high-fat meal and have had clients report similar feelings. I discuss with clients the benefits of eating healthy, nutritious foods such as feeling full after eating even though some foods may taste bland. I have found clients are more willing to consider diet changes when they learn that eating healthy foods will not cause a person to feel physically ill and will not experience a decrease in mood.
I find it fascinating when people compete about what is the best type of exercise. I discuss with clients that there are pros and cons to any form of exercise. I encourage clients to engage in exercise that they find to be fun. Exercise only helps people lose a fraction of their weight. I have found that when a person exercises to feel good versus to lose weight, they tend to feel better about themself. I assist people find a way to enjoy healthy foods and exercise. I also help clients recognize how they feel physically and emotionally on a daily basis when they eat foods with low nutritional value. It has been my experience that when a person changes their relationship with food and makes lifestyle changes because they want to feel better versus to lose weight, they often end up losing weight as a result. This was the outcome I experienced.
Disclaimer: I am a social worker and not a nutritionist. Please seek medical advice from a doctor.
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