The decision to lose weight or simply diet isn't the solution to a slimmer you – even though the diet industry is making billions from this misconception. Why? The answer lies in deeper issues about your relationship with food, an intervention expert says. The truth is that most people don't recognize the role that their personal relationship with food plays on how they initially gained weight, and the impact that this relationship has on their overall weight loss success.
"We've become enormous, as a nation and a people," says Brad Lamm, author of How to Change Someone You Love and regular guest on TV's Oprah and Dr. Oz shows. "Men, women and children. Black, white, gay and straight. We are busting at the seams and losing the fight to control who we are, how we feel and how we can control our ever-increasing need to feed. Our eating habits have stopped being about real physical hunger for the majority of Americans."
Lamm worked with GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare, maker of consumer health products, to develop a survey of 2,001 Americans, aged 18 years and older, to demonstrate the root causes of rising obesity and change the unhealthy eating paradigm. The survey uncovered the complicated relationship Americans have with food, showing that mindless eating can lead to weight gain.
Results showed that while two-thirds of Americans say they're proud of their eating habits, the same percentage admit to engaging in unhealthy behaviors, such as skipping meals and eating
when not hungry, on a weekly basis. Additionally, a majority believes they were taught proper eating habits growing up, yet most never discussed important topics such as calorie intake, fat intake
or portion size.
Why the disconnect? "We have become a myopic nation of more – more food, more drink, more me," Lamm says. "The survey results cast a light on how we spot harmful behavior in others, while missing it in ourselves. I tell my clients, 'if you spot it, you got it', meaning that the very action of seeing someone else in negative behavior prompts us to hold up the mirror."
We have desk jobs and watch TV to relax. We do a lot of sitting – to work, commute, eat, entertain ourselves. Lamm says this migration to more sedentary living has changed us from creative people into sloth-like beings. "We're getting big, slow and dumbed down. We've stopped walking and running and doing, and, basically, have slowed down to become spectators of life," he explains. "The No. 1 cause of preventable death springs from this need to feed, this upside-down relationship with food."
GlaxoSmithKline is sponsoring a documentary on the subject to begin airing in 2010, to create awareness and inspire change. The project will let people know that if they have a relationship with food that needs improvement, they aren't alone nor do they need to strike out on their own to change, and that they are more likely to succeed if they don't go it alone.
"We can and do constantly change," the intervention expert says. "We are amazing, adaptable, changeable creatures. I want us to change for the better and fall into mindful eating and out of mindless eating. That's my goal."
What hurts, stressors and emotions do you pile food onto? What emotional landmines scatter your landscape? Lamm suggests that you identify them then set out to remove them through a healing process. Ask yourself the hard questions and work on the answers.
How do you eat? What do you eat? Do you snack in a pre-determined way or do you feast right out of the bag? Do you move? On what schedule? Consistency is critical in making your amazing machinery work its best.
Do you let others in on your effort? Do you open yourself up to the love and care of others in your resolve to change? Accountability and structure exponentially increase your odds of successfully changing. Extend your hand to help others in their journey.
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