Obesity is a multidimensional problem that can’t be fixed by one dietetic approach because no two people are alike when it comes to why they gained weight. It explains why most attempts at dieting and losing weight tend to fail, especially when only one approach is used for everyone. Understanding these variations is a way to help someone struggling with their overweight state by identifying where the root of their problem resides and then taking the right corrective action. When it comes to the overweight conditions that people face, I have discovered four distinct categories that a person falls under. And because the weight loss industry fails to understand these distinctions, it explains why most obesity goes uncured.
The first stage of excessive weight gain is the most common. It stems from their unknowingness and lack of knowledge about what to eat, how to read labels, and following the wrong dietetic advice, like strict and omissive diets. They get heavy because they have never been shown the root cause of their weight gain and how to correct it, and when they fix their unknowingness, they usually fix their weight. For example, when you explain the percentage of fat in a food, or how to determine the actual sugar content in a food, the effects of alcohol, nutrient partitioning, reframing, or the psychology of deprivation and how to avoid it, weight loss almost always occurs.
The second category of the overweight state stems from an undiagnosed hormonal imbalance. Thyroid conditions such as low thyroid, Hashimoto’s, menopause, sojourns disease, a pituitary tumor, estrogen dominance, and low testosterone, to name a few. These undiagnosed conditions can affect their mood, motivation, energy, and appetite, resulting in weight gain. What I have discovered after 40 years of conducting lab tests and looking at the hormonal side of obesity is that most doctors often overlook this area. And when a doctor does a blood work-up, it is often incomplete. These tests need to be more in-depth and include critical tests to rule out a hormonal aspect to a person’s weight gain. Once this is corrected along with adding to their knowledge, these people do quite well with weight loss.
The third category falls under the food addictions category that a person has developed, which often stems from childhood traumas. Traumas are traumatic, but they are not the reason for the addiction; the addictions result from how those traumas hurt the person deep within. They never achieved the necessary attachment or connection to others throughout childhood. Those traumatic events leaves a deep hurt or feeling of detachment, which stands in the way of fulfilling that missing connection. Hence, some satisfy that lost connection by connecting with food, while others falsely feel the connection they seek with drugs, alcohol, sex, etc. This is where a good therapist specializing in overeating and childhood traumas is essential to helping the person overcome their food abuse.
The fourth category of obesity is the societal factor. This is where a child is reared around a family of obese people. Most overweight children tend to grow into overweight adults. They don’t know anything different because they’ve never been thin, and don’t know what it feels like to be active and energetic. Since they grow up around obese family members, they identify better with being overweight and adopt the eating habits and lifestyle of their overweight family members. In addition, there is a series of physiological changes that takes place when a youngster gains a high level of body fat that in turn will make it harder to lose weight as an adult. When a child gains a excessive amount of body fat, their fat cells will multiply which is a condition known as hyperplasia. As each fat cell reaches its maximum capacity to store fuel the fat cell will divide from one fat cell into two. And the more weight they gain, the more fat cells they develop. And once you acquire a fat cell, you’ll never lose it. In addition, fat cells also store hormones. And as more and more circulating hormones get stored in the fat cells and taken out of circulation, the likelihood that they will develop a hormonal imbalance increases accordingly. The key to helping this group is to catch them when they are young by teaching the parents how to cook and provide foods the child can carry to school.
The correct approach to resolving weight issues;
The first step to help a person overcome their overweight state is to start by changing their awareness of what to eat and filling in the areas where they lack knowledge. In many cases, this alone fixes the weight issues, and so long as those new behaviors become their lifestyle, that may be all it takes to resolve their issue.
If the second step is to run all the appropriate blood tests to rule out that their issues and inability to lose weight stem from a hormonal imbalance. And in many cases, you resolve their issues once you correct the underlying imbalance along with their knowingness. And once again, so long as the style of eating becomes their new lifestyle, the weight usually remains gone.
When the first two steps aren’t producing the desired results the third step is to ask qualified questions about childhood traumas to determine if their root cause is more of a psychological need for connection and to discover if their food issues run much deeper on a psychological level. Once we discover this is the issue, the only way to help them is to get them in with a qualified therapist to help them deal with the deeper issues that drive their desire to abuse food.
Addiction is a complex and multifaceted issue that plagues millions of individuals worldwide. It manifests in various forms – substance abuse, overeating, gambling, shopping, and more. While the surface-level triggers may seem diverse, a common thread runs deep beneath the surface – childhood trauma and the desperate search for their unmet needs for attachment.
The Need for Attachment
A child is born with an innate need for attachment, connection, and love with their parents, siblings, and family. From birth, we rely on caregivers to fulfill our physical, emotional, and psychological needs. Healthy attachment in childhood forms the foundation for a strong sense of self-worth, emotional regulation, and the ability to develop meaningful relationships later in life. Unfortunately, not all children have had the privilege of experiencing secure love and attachment with their parents, caregivers, or family members for reasons that the child isn’t responsible for.
Childhood Trauma and Its Unseen Impact
Childhood trauma encompasses many difficult experiences, including abuse, neglect, loss, being raised by a single parent and witnessing violence. The trauma can even happen simply because the child’s mother or father doesn’t know how to meet that need due to their complicated history and relationships with their family members. A void is created when a child’s attachment needs are unmet due to a caregiver’s addiction, emotional unavailability, or personal trauma. This void leaves a lasting impact on the child’s emotional development, often leading to a pervasive sense of emptiness and a relentless yearning for connection.
The Search for Fulfillment
As these traumatized children grow into adulthood, they carry their deep-seated childhood wounds. And this is where they may first encounter an addictive substance or specific behaviors that provide an emotional escape from the pain they have carried for so long. The initial experience of using drugs, alcohol, or engaging in other addictive behaviors might mimic the feelings of connection and attachment they longed for during childhood. The brain interprets this as a much-needed embrace, releasing neurochemicals that induce pleasure and temporarily alleviate emotional distress.
The Cycle of Addiction
The cycle of addiction is insidious. Individuals are initially drawn to the substance or behavior because it offers solace and distraction from their inner turmoil. However, the more they engage in these addictive patterns, the more they neglect the long-term consequences. Essentially, they are chasing a mirage of attachment they never received in childhood. Without realizing it, pursuing this elusive attachment or connection can lead to a downward spiral of self-destructive behaviors, intensifying the void they so desperately want to fill. For many, the addiction isn’t physically destructive and not so obvious in the beginning. A person may feel like they satisfy that void while overeating and developing an unhealthy relationship with food or playing things like video games which most people don’t relate to as an addiction. So it goes unnoticed for years and years until one day they become acutely aware that the excess weight or video game playing has affected their quality of their life, especially relationships. Maybe they don’t date, or they isolate and find themselves without many meaningful relationships in their life.
Rediscovering Self-Love and Healing
The path to recovery from addiction is not solely about abstaining from substances or behaviors. True healing begins with acknowledging and addressing the underlying emotional wounds. It involves rediscovering one’s identity, self-worth, and capacity for self-love. Rather than fixating on external factors, individuals must nurture their internal well-being and learn healthier coping mechanisms.
Breaking the Chains of Self-Abuse
Recovery signifies a profound inner transformation – a shift from self-abuse to self-compassion. By acknowledging the pain and trauma that resided within, individuals can start the process of forgiveness for themselves and those who may have caused them harm. This forgiveness is not a dismissal of past wrongs but a release from the emotional burden that has held them captive. When healing begins is when the abuse with the addiction begins to fade and becomes less important. This is when weight loss usually begins.
By recognizing and addressing these diverse aspects of obesity, we pave the way for a more holistic and effective approach to eating management. In addition, we open the door to a future where a more personalized solution and comprehensive care helps individuals reach a long lasting improvement with their health and well-being. In its many forms, by including the treatment of addictions we not only help with weight loss but also the unaddressed childhood traumas and the insatiable need for attachment. Recovery is not about erasing the past hurts but about healing the wounds within. It requires embracing self-love, forgiveness, and a commitment to well-being. By addressing the core emotional pain and nurturing a sense of self-worth, individuals can break free from the cycle of addiction and embark on a journey toward lasting healing and true self-discovery.
Copyright 2023 S. Keith Klein CN CCN