Satisfying Hunger

Slide1

It’s no surprise to me the developed world’s obesity epidemic continues to grow regardless of science, research and diet plans. For generations, we have attacked this problem from a calorie expenditure point of view (calories in vs. calories out) to determine what foods people need to eat to correct this disorder. This approach has failed to reverse this disease/condition, yet continues to be the most utilized method to address people overweight and obese.

Science and research has taught doctors about hormone regulation and the imbalances that lead to altered brain messages regarding hunger and fullness. Nutritionists and Dietitians have developed new protocols to follow to improve satisfying nutritional needs of the body. Health clubs have expanded with lower monthly fees making structured exercise more cost affordable. What have these improvements yielded?

RISING OVERWEIGHT AND OBESITY RATES.

Maybe it’s time we expand our approach beyond calorie expenditure, food intake and exercise and begin addressing a factor less tangible, but equally important:

EMOTIONS!

ANB_Hunger-vs-Eating4-300x211There are no studies quantifying emotions as a CAUSE of weight problems. If we evaluate lifestyles today we see:

  • longer working hours with fewer breaks including fewer traditional lunch breaks

  • both parents working while raising families

  • lower wages and salaries

  • increased rates of debt

  • fewer vacations

  • 24 hour news

  • increased sedentary time (often eating) in front of TV’S and computers

  • marriage problems

  • increased rates of behavioral issues among children

  • fast food and processed food accessibility replacing home prepared meals

  • reduced sleep

  • decreased self worth and self esteem

To believe solutions to weight problems can be found without properly identifying and addressing the emotional component will continue to result in failure. 70% of the U.S. population takes prescriptive medications. The top three are (1) opioids (pain killers,) (2) anti-depressants and (3) antibiotics. This helps quantify a large segment of our population suffers from ongoing PAIN; (from physical suffering, mental suffering or sickness.) These are physical and emotional experiences requires FIXING (not simply medicating) to create long term solutions.

In my opinion, food becomes the most readily available cost effective answer to providing temporary relief to so many people living with CHRONIC EMOTIONAL PAIN. “Satisfying hunger” from this perspective provides a better explanation why our population has been unsuccessful reversing the obesity epidemic. Government and businesses will never accept the role and responsibility to address the bullet points listed above. Unfortunately, it becomes the responsibility of the individual suffering these emotional pains to seek support. Similar to other lifestyle changes, this approach can only work if the person is willing to commit themselves entirely to the process. The average person is likely to need guidance and support. I would encourage searching support organizations on the internet that provide experience, knowledge and emotional support to helping those with limited resources to achieving better emotional balance.

As this new lifestyle approach helps address the emotional pains, the ability to address other relevant subjects including nutrition and exercise becomes more palatable. The need to satisfy (emotional) hunger continues to exist, however, the path of satisfaction now turns to constructive attitudes and actions rather than destructive ones. Increased energy, greater clarity, better emotional feelings are all results of this new lifestyle. Healthy nutrition and exercise begin satisfying the needs of BOTH body and mind.  They become tools that motivate and inspire positive behaviors rather than additional time consuming chores increasing anxiety and depression.

Is it time to break the vicious cycle that has consumed your life for all these years? Is it time to regain control and discover the underlying happiness that exists under your pile of emotional baggage? Only you can make the conscious decision to take action. There are LONG TERM SOLUTIONS; they just don’t exist in pill forms or capsules.

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59 comments

  1. Calories in/calories out is not the whole story, not by a long shot. Great post!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Professionals seeking long term solutions just aren’t willing to let go of the calorie expenditure approach to weight loss as their primary focus unfortunately.

      Liked by 4 people

  2. Wow, that chart you have at the top is so telling. I have definitely eaten out of emotional hunger a time or two.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. For some it becomes a refuge that slowly destroys their emotional and physical quality of life. As a doctor, it is important to improve awareness among my colleagues as well as the general public to address this problem more compassionately and intelligently to achieve better outcomes. Obesity has already reached epidemic levels; I’m not sure how much more damage must occur before we recognize a different approach is needed.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Love that graphic!

    A while back (last week maybe? Or the week before?) you told me something along the lines of, “I’d say eat that donut, but only eat it when you’re in a happier mood.” It wasn’t that exactly, but you know. ANYWAY, I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately and it has helped me cut back on emotional eating. At least in trying to drown my sorrows in chocolate. So that’s something. 😀 Stopped myself from eating junk I didn’t necessarily WANT nearly half a dozen times at this point. So, thank you!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I am very happy that you have found an approach to begin the process of taking back control over your life. Small REASONABLE steps becomes a key to overcoming years of addictive behaviors. It’s NOT about being perfect; its about consistently deciding for yourself the choices you elect to make. It also FEELS GOOD making these decisions. It returns a sense of control to one’s life.

      I hope you follow this path to a destiny of your choosing. You will likely experience great happiness along the way. Best wishes on your continued success. I’m betting on YOU!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Cheyanne mentioned that you said “… only eat it when you’re in a happier mood.” That is good advice and is what I give to myself, too. People ask me if I actually eat, because I don’t look as if I do. I tell them I enjoy eating meals that I prepare or that are made for me at my favourite kitchens. It helps to be conscious about what we’re choosing to eat rather than using food as a distraction.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Changing our mindset about food and eating is an important key to changing destructive eating patterns. As people apply these principles they feel better about gaining control over this aspect of their lives. Self empowerment leads to improved self confidence and self image. As healthy behaviors are introduced at this point it becomes much easier to successfully incorporate REALISTIC nutrition and exercise practices that “supercharge” ones health and sense of well being. I believe this is a much more compassionate and effective approach to overcoming an emotionally and physically draining condition.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That is a wonderful message. I am thankful that I was raised in a household where this was a priority. xo

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Absolutely so true Doc and a great post. It is EXACTLY what has ailed me all of my life and now am only just beginning to get a handle on it. Food is a comfort and a prison, a punishment and a reward. It is simply how we view our relationship with food that determines which feeling is more prevalent.
    I can still get it wrong even after all of the effort I have put in to changing but with the advent of trying to add more water to my diet, things are improving.
    Again, a great post.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It is an ongoing adventure (for most of us; even those without weight issues) and requires a plan of action to maintain a balanced approach to healthy living. Food is NOT evil. It is NOT the enemy. It is a necessary part of life essential for existence. It is the choices we make that determine whether our future existence becomes EVIL (disease, depression, etc…) or PLEASING (balanced, diverse, etc…)

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It al comes down to choice and behaviour. Quite right.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. I self medicated with food and really bad food at that….like a drug the stronger the better, well the more junk in the junk food the better I thought I would feel….wow how wrong was I…….great post…anyone who reads this and is eating from there emotion should help them tremendously….I am doing so much better in this area of my life, however its something I need to remain focused on at all times….with the recent news of problems in my sons marriage found me heading into emotional eating…made me really set back and have a look at how I handled the news….I stopped, did some reflection, put down the fork and went into a different direction when the stress touched my emotions….thanks again Jonathan for the great post….never hurts read positive reinforcements over and over again….kat

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Comments like yours help people realize they are not alone. Thank you for your willingness to share your personal story. I came from a family having two members morbidly obese. I grew up with cakes, candy, soda, chips, etc… on a daily basis and absolutely loved the taste. I was athletic and was very physical and therefore never developed weight issues. I was able to see the damage uncontrolled eating could cause. This was my ah ha moment. I still love chocolate, ice cream, etc… I simply don’t keep it in my house. As disciplined a person I am, I don’t need to unnecessarily tempt myself. Knowing what to do is NOT ENOUGH. Creating good habits and placing oneself in friendly (healthy) environments can be the difference between choosing wisely or foolishly. For me, I will ALWAYS be at battle balancing wants and needs. I will win this battle because I choose to be in control of my health decisions. I believe in you as well, and believe you too shall win.

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      1. Yes, I will win….my body is craving today, just craving more, however I woke up with the energy level back….amazing just cutting back on the calorie intake has made such a big difference already…very exciting!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I am an emotional eater. Compulsive to the ridiculous. If someone offered me a million dollars to give up junk food, my emotions would be fighting.

    By the way I never see your posts in the reader. I hate that thing. Most that come through are new followers and I have lost touch with most of my older readers, but I can’t handle all that email so have no choice if I don’t want to lose my positive feelings towards blogging.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I understand. Knowing I am in your thoughts is good for me. Any comments I see is simply a bonus.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for understanding why I am not commenting much. Every now and then I catch a trip on someone else’s coat tails or the comments you leave. You are in my thoughts and I will try to put your blog URL somewhere I won’t lose it so I can check it now and then. Have a great day!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. These are 100% accurate observations. The question is often not “What are we eating? but instead “What’s eating us?” There is a very strong connection between underlying emotional conditions and attempts to “self medicate” with the fastest, easiest, cheapest and most available substance that people in our society abuse, (namely food). Usually, it’s in the form of processed, low nutrient “junk” not real food that meets the body’s needs for energy. When this is combined with high stress, low activity lifestyles like those you mentioned, it’s easy to see how the crisis has escalated despite our attempts to correct it. Until the individual identifies the “void” they are trying to fill and finds an empowering alternative, they will simply continue with the vicious cycle of destructive behavior. Well done, my friend!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Great comment. You said it all. It is now up to us to continue to gently be persistent and reinforce the message so people become inspired. I will follow my own mantra, PATIENCE!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. It’s funny how so many people still fail to realize how our emotions play such a big role in our eating/hunger. I like that chart that you opened with. Is this a better approach for combatting obesity?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I believe this is a big part of combating obesity. Emotional eating overrides logical and reasonable behavior in many cases. It is equivalent to an addict shooting heroine even knowing that an overdose may occur. Treating people with dignity, compassion and respect is necessary to gaining trust. This is an important early phase in offering qualitative care. Treating the WHOLE PERSON rather than merely their addiction is equally important. This helps to restore value and self worth essential to overcome obesity.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I will read this artcle with my daughter who is having her battles with obesity. Thank you for the wonderful posts.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I hope it offers a perspective that sparks a flame within her to find a new and better path in life. Obesity is greatly misunderstood. It brings ridicule rather than compassion. To end this destructive response, we need better realistic solutions. They exist; they simply cost time and money. It doesn’t end with doctors and patients. We, as a society, must also demonstrate a willingness to care about those suffering this malady. A good first step would be opening one’s heart.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Thanks for the road map

            Liked by 2 people

  10. Our minds are in tune! I had a future post in mind that mentioned exactly this! The emotional is a part of our health and should not be treated as a separate entity.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This is such an important component that receives so little attention when discussing weight control. Until the mind is prepared, the body will be unable to fulfill the task. It is so much more than diet and exercise.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Absolutely! Because we are so much more than just the physical

        Liked by 1 person

  11. I actually sent this infographic to my mom when I found it online awhile back. Both my mom and I are guilty of eating our feelings and I have now learned that pleasure cannot be found in food and that it shouldn’t be used a source for it either. I remember thinking elite athletes who said things like, “food is fuel” and “I don’t eat for taste” were crazy but now I am really seeing their points.

    I find my happiness and comfort in my friends and family and not in my kitchen. I still remember when I realized I was guilty of emotional eating during my sugar detox. I was plugging along fine and then I had an absolutely awful day. I was like, you know what, forget the detox, I want to go eat pizza (even though it makes me sick!). It was like something clicked into place (and I didn’t eat the pizza) so now I know to be mindful and aware of what my gut reaction to stress is – you can’t eat it away! And then you just end up feeling worse later.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I can’t believe how far you have come in the limited time I have known you. Your mindset has grown in ways that will only be beneficial in your future. As people continue to read your words (which they will absolutely identify with,) they WILL SEE the reality you speak about and practice. I will offer you their thanks of “silent” appreciation. You will inspire many people to change their lifestyles and live happier healthier lives.

      Like

  12. I have been thinking about this topic a lot recently too! I am so happy that you posted this. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. This is such an important part of the equation that seems to receive significantly less attention. I have always believed that better health starts in the mind. You can’t create long term behaviors if the mind is not committed to this.
    Thank you so much for sharing your comment.

    Like

  14. I don’t fear food, but I do fear what making wrong choices can do. I eat to feed a need whether I have done a weight workout or if I’ve done cardio. So basically, I consume foods for certain needs. That doesn’t mean I don’t also eat something for “fun”. If say, a chocolate cake is in the house, I will eat it! So I don’t have it in the house. I will bake/make a “fun” thing and then that’s that. If I want chocolate, I will make a cup of hot cocoa instead of opening up a package. I find if I make “fun” foods/treats, I don’t feel sick. Store bought (most things) doesn’t make me feel good and one only needs to read a package and not be able to pronounce some of the words to understand that perhaps if you can’t pronounce it, you shouldn’t eat it. And that also goes for if something takes too many ingredients to make, then it’s something you shouldn’t eat. I am thankful emotional eating is something I can control. I get sad, bad things happen, stress is there, but I know I must find other outlets to find my balance. My chiropractor did some tests on me and told me how taxed my adrenals are. He said it’s a good thing I workout as much as I do because I’d be in way worse shape physically…not on the out side… was what he meant, but what was physically going on on the inside. He knows me personally so he knows what I’m gong through. Times like this, I want to eat the entire cake, but I am too fearful of harming my body more. Because even in rough times, the need to squeeze out one more day of life is worth me trying the best way I can to care for me. (and of course I can’t help but “mother” everyone around me, to care for themselves too!) Best to you Jonathan.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can tell there is much activity in your life pulling on strong emotional strings. You, however, are a fighter and make the most of each situation in as positive a manner as possible. Life is difficult, but so worth living. Stay focused, look forward to new beginnings and opportunities and always seek balance. You deserve only the best.

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