A new study published by Orlando Health has indicated that emotional eating and psychological well being is a major factor in weight loss, diet and exercise.
Nearly 2 out of 3 people who lose 5 % of their weight gain is back, and the more weight is lost the less chance of keeping it off.
“That’s not surprising,” said Diane Robinson, PhD, a neuropsychologist and Program Director of Integrative Medicine at Orlando Health. “Most people focus almost entirely on the physical aspects of weight loss, like diet and exercise. But there is an emotional component to food that the vast majority of people simply overlook and it can quickly sabotage their efforts.”
The Orlando health investigated the lifestyle habits of more than a thousand people through an evaluation and determined that 31 percent of Americans think a lack of exercise is the biggest barrier to weight loss, followed by those who say it’s what you eat (26%) and the cost of a healthy lifestyle (17%). Another 12 percent said the biggest barrier to weight loss was the necessary time commitment.
the researchers attribute the results to an emotional attachment to food as most people are emotionally attached to food from a very young age through treats given to console or reward for good behavior.
“If we’re aware of it or not, we are conditioned to use food not only for nourishment, but for comfort,” said Robinson. “That’s not a bad thing, necessarily, as long as we acknowledge it and deal with it appropriately. “Whenever the brain experiences pleasure for any reason it reacts the same way”.
The brain releases dopamine as part of its reward system, whether it’s derived from drugs, a romantic encounter or a satisfying meal. “We feel good whenever that process is activated,” said Robinson, “but when we start to put food into that equation and it becomes our reward, it can have negative consequences.”
The researchers specified a link between emotional issues like stress, anxiety and depression, and higher body mass indexes (BMI).
The goal is to take emotion out of eating and see food as nourishment, not as a reward or coping mechanism. If you struggle, don’t be shy about finding help. “When we’re focused on the physical aspects of weight loss, many of us have no problem joining a gym or hiring a trainer,” said Robinson. “How about joining a support group or hiring a psychologist?” she said. “If getting your body in shape hasn’t work out yet, maybe this time start with your mind.”