Body and Soul: Psychological Reasons for Obesity
Miraculous diets can help you to lose weight… for some time. After one month of painful sacrifice you finally unlock the fridge and fill it up with all the yummy groceries you used to enjoy before. You are back in your routine, back in your habits – and back on your unwanted weight. The idea of staying on such a diet forever to keep your body in preferred shape is obviously freaky. You don’t want to eat what someone else orders you to eat. You want to eat what YOUR body asks for. It’s pretty natural. Therefore the only way how to lose weight with permanent effect would be to teach your body to ask for healthy food. And if we want to change the body’s preferences, we need to start at it’s management point – our mind.
The correlation between body and mind belongs to the main pillars of alternative medicine. Theoretically, if we resolve the problem residing in our soul, that psychological issue that forces us to eat abnormal doses of unhealthy food, we should be able to change our eating habits once forever with a smile – and be happier, healthier and more satisfied with ourselves.
What kind of psychological issue are we talking about? Well, it probably varies from person to person. Everybody has a unique personality and unique life journey. We can just try to have a closer look at five most common categories.
FILLING THE EMPTINESS
If we consider the food to be a drug that substitutes something we are missing in our life we can compare it to the classic drug addict problem. Instead of seeing exciting points of life and focusing on relationships, carrier or hobbies, drug addicts put themselves under an exciting feeling the drug brings them, escaping from daily routine, escaping from responsibility to solve problems, escaping from real life. We sometimes hear overweight people complaining: “This skinny woman tells me she forgot to eat. How can you forget something like that? I forget my phone at home, I forget to organize a meeting, but I would never ever forget to have my meal!”
But it is not actually that difficult to forget to eat if you are busy with something that really overwhelms your mind. If you focus on something that keeps your brain occupied, if you are doing something you believe it’s worth doing. At that moment you naturally don’t think about food… until your stomach makes you realize you are seriously hungry.
In other words, you need to discover an activity that will help you to fill the life with something more meaningful than just burger and chips.
Take the opposite extreme – if you are busy TOO MUCH but your activities are not making you happy at all. You don’t follow your daily routine with passion, you just do things because you HAVE TO. They chase you at work to your limits, you have never break, you are starving but no time to eat, then it’s still shopping, screaming kids, demanding husband/wife and when it’s finally quiet and everybody is sleeping, you watch your favorite TV show till one o’clock… and here comes your time. To calm down and relax, to forget there is another morning coming, you attack the fridge in attempt to get all the stress off your shoulders and to feel satisfied at least for that half an hour.
Here we need to look for the stress factors that are causing your overall frustration. Changes will be needed in your every day life. You will have to learn how to satisfy other needs and desires, apart of the stomach ones.
LACK OF CARE
Alternative medicine usually claims it is a certain emotional problem that’s causing obesity. For more detailed explanation we will have to make a little journey into the deepest layer of our psyche and try to figure out the meaning of “food” in the archetypal symbolism.
Everybody needs to eat in order to survive, therefore “food” is a significant part of collective Unconscious, an archetype every single person alive needs to deal with.
We receive the first food just after we are born – it is usually our mother who supplies us with the very first feed. The taste of the first food comes along with the first mother’s touch and it takes an essential role in creating bond. The silent message of every nurturing mother can be basically expressed as: “I love you, I take care of you, I feed you.” The duty to prepare the food for the family was traditionally assigned to the mother – in traditional society the father had to make sure there was enough money to obtain groceries but the mother was the one who physically cooked the meal and served it on the family table. Is it just coincidence that our western population became so obese in decades when women started working full time, concentrating on their carrier and losing time to plan a proper family menu?
And it can’t be just the plain replacement of home made meal with fast food – one slice of pizza or one burger won’t make you fat. The weight gets picked up with overfeeding and addiction to junk food. Why do we have such a need to eat, eat and eat like if our stomach got never satisfied with its content? Well, maybe because our body is not satisfied with the nature of the food we are accepting – and that’s why we still stay “hungry”.
There is something about making food. Specially, there is something about making food FOR SOMEONE. Many people would say: “If I am at home alone, I don’t cook. Why should I cook for myself?” When your family leaves for a weekend and you have to stay at home alone, you will probably open a can of baked beans, toast two slices of bread and you are done. But if you are preparing meal for your loved ones or for friends that come to visit you play with the food way more – to make sure they enjoy it. And what can give a chef bigger pleasure than watching people enjoying his meal? The message “I made a nice meal for you because I like you and I care about you” is still there, although we don’t realize it. If we cook with love and our food is accepted with joy we are exchanging important feelings and strengthening bond between each other.
If the bond gets holes and starts breaking up our subconscious believes we can repair it with eating. But in fact, we are not hungry for food. We are hungry for that emotional connection we are missing in our relationships.
PATCH ON SORE HEART
This category is also about feelings, however in this case we are talking about overfeeding that follows a heart breaking event in our life, usually a break up. Like if we believed that sweet taste could balance the bitterness we feel inside. Only solution is to overcome the past, avoid sorry feelings for yourself and open the mind and heart to something new.
This happens mostly to the loving parents that are trying to give their children the best they can. There wouldn’t be anything wrong with that – if they were also able to treat themselves in the same way. Did you ever hear yourself saying: “I am not gonna eat this mango. I rather keep it for my little one. It’s so healthy. But I am hungry, so I can finish this box of cookies instead.” Why are we trying to teach our kids to eat healthy but when it comes to our own diet we stuff our bodies with a complete junk? “That’s too good for me” or “I don’t deserve this” or maybe even “I don’t need to eat healthy any more, my body is old anyway, will go to the grave soon.” These statements have something to do with our self-evaluation and self-esteem. We want our children to learn how to look after themselves to live a long, healthy life while we deny our own drive to stay healthy and live long. We would feel guilty if we ate something healthy that could be useful to somebody else instead. We can track a link to the situations when we eat all the leftovers as we would feel guilty if we threw them to the bin. We don’t realize that all the excessive food our body doesn’t need is going to waste anyway. By eating it we just change ourselves into some kind of alive trash cans.
Solution? Love yourself and look after yourself – from inside and outside – so that you are not teaching your children something you actually never do. At the end, you want to be a good example to them, don’t you?