Emotional Eating

Weight Loss After 40 – Why It’s So Hard and What Works

Hello Readers – I ran across this article by Melanie Haiken and thought it was great. I know it’s long, but it’s a must-read……

 

 

A 10-step plan to win the battle of the bulge

By , Caring.com senior editor
Last updated: July 29, 2013
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Every year, it seems, the needle on the scale is a little harder to budge. You cut back on portion size; you say, “No, thank you,” to dessert; you sign up for a Zumba class — and yet your jeans size goes up and your energy level goes down. What’s going on?

Starting in our early 40s, our bodies go through a series of changes that profoundly affect digestion, metabolism, and other bodily functions. Thanks to hormonal and other changes, the very growth rate of our cells slows down. It’s just something we have to learn to work around.

Sometimes, though, something’s gotten off track, metabolically speaking, and there’s an underlying medical issue that needs to be dealt with before the usual weight-loss measures will have any effect. Here’s a 10-step plan for understanding the challenges that prevent weight loss over 40, and for learning how to overcome them.

1. Get to know your body’s new biological rhythms — and adjust to them.

In long-ago times, older didn’t necessarily mean plumper. Think of those icons of the American prairie, the sinewy pitchfork-wielding farm couple pictured in American Gothic. But today, those of us over 40 face a twofold challenge: We’re living longer, and we’re no longer out there milking the cows at 5 a.m.

When it comes to burning calories, it’s a fairly simple equation. What goes in must be burned off, or it sticks to our ribs. Acquiring weight is absurdly easy — eating just 100 extra calories a day (100 more than what your body burns) will lead to a 9- to 10-pound weight gain over the course of a year, experts say. How much is 100 calories? Not a lot: A can of Coke contains 155 calories, a chocolate bar more than 200. Of course, that cola or chocolate chip cookie is no problem if we’re walking or running it off. But after 40, our activity level tends to decline, too. So the challenge is to bring the two into balance.

Look back over the past year, and think about when your weight seemed to be holding steady and when it seemed to be trending slowly upward. What were you doing during the good weeks? What sabotaged you the other times? Make a list of what works for you, and what throws you off. Your own healthy habits in the past are the ones most likely to work for you now.

2. Eliminate underlying metabolic conditions.

Would it surprise you to know that thyroid problems strike as many as 1 out of 5 adults over age 40? And 8 out of 10 of those adults are women? The most common of these is hypothyroidism — an underactive thyroid — and it’s one of the primary reasons many women over 40 can’t lose weight. The thyroid is a tiny gland that produces hormones that regulate metabolism, and when it’s underactive, so is everything else. Think of low thyroid as having your internal thermostat set too low. Symptoms include feeling cold all the time, poor circulation in the hands and feet, clammy hands, tiredness and lethargy, hair loss (including eyebrows and eyelashes), and weight gain — despite real attempts to exercise and eat well.

If you suspect an underactive thyroid may be slowing your metabolism, the first step is to call the doctor and ask for a thyroid test. But beware: It’s not always that simple. Many thyroid experts consider the first-line thyroid blood test, known as the TSH, an unreliable indicator, and they argue that doctors should diagnose according to symptoms rather than a lab number. And there is extensive disagreement among endocrinologists about what should be considered a “normal” range for the TSH, what range indicates subclinical hypothyroidism, and what number indicates full-blown hypothyroidism. Since 2003, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) has been recommending that a TSH test result of 2.5 or above should be considered a possible indicator of hypothyroidism. But many laboratories still use an older standard, according to which 5.5 is the cutoff above which TSH is considered abnormal. And new recommendations issued jointly by a task force of the AACE and the American Thyroid Association (ATA) didn’t clarify things much; they basically say that a thyroid result of between 2.5 and 10 could indicate hypothyroidism on a case-by-case basis. In addition, the 2012 recommendations suggest that doctors use an additional test for elevated thyroid peroxidase antibody, or TPOAb, when diagnosing autoimmune hypothyroidism.

The takeaway: If your TSH result is above 2.5, make sure your doctor knows that the AACE considers you a candidate for thyroid medication, based on your symptoms. Then ask for a referral to an endocrinologist, with whom you can discuss the need for additional testing.

3. Adjust your eating habits for maximum energy.

Your goal at this stage in your life is to keep yourself feeling full without succumbing to the temptation to eat like you could at age 20. One strategy recommended by internist Julie Taw, MD, of Englewood, New Jersey, is to eat more frequently but to consume less at each sitting. An added benefit of eating this way is that it’s easier to keep your blood sugar steady, so you don’t have the peaks and valleys that contribute to fatigue.

Here’s the rule: Try eating five to six small meals a day, and don’t go more than three or four hours without eating. For example, you might eat a light but healthy breakfast before you leave for work, then have a nonfat yogurt in the late morning. Then instead of eating a big pasta lunch and spending the afternoon in a stupor, eat a light lunch and spend the rest of your lunch break taking a brisk walk. An afternoon snack of nuts and an apple keeps you from needing the 4 p.m. sweet treat and makes it easier to avoid overeating at dinner.

Your goal is the opposite of the starvation approach to dieting — you want to trick your body into feeling satisfied and well-fed at all times, though the total amount you’re eating is less.

4. Time your eating to take advantage of your body’s natural rhythms.

Most experts agree on one thing: Snack (or eat dinner) after 8 p.m., and whatever you eat is more likely to go straight to your hips and stomach. Happily, the opposite is also true — what you eat in the mornings, when your metabolism is revved up to its optimum operating speed, is much more likely to be expended efficiently.

Don’t like to eat breakfast? Sorry, but there’s no way around this one; eating a good breakfast is one of the key habits experts have identified that keeps thin people thin. When members of the National Weight Control Registry (people who have maintained a weight loss of 30 pounds for between one and six years) were surveyed, 78 percent reported eating breakfast every day and almost 90 percent reported eating breakfast at least five days a week. This was one of the only factors researchers identified that those in the registry had in common!

5. Trick your metabolism with fat-fighting foods.

I know you’ve heard it before, but it’s true: It’s really not just about how much you eat, but how much of which foods. There are plenty of healthy foods you can eat all you want of — and no, that doesn’t mean stuffing your fridge with celery sticks, 1970s-style. Instead, make a few simple tweaks to your diet, incorporating foods that actually fight fat instead of those that trigger it. Then eat other foods in moderation, and you should be OK.

6. Make muscles an ally in your weight-loss campaign.

There’s one thing the exercise gurus have gotten right: The more muscle mass you have, the more effectively your metabolism burns calories. But sad to say, a natural tendency of aging is to lose muscle, gradually replacing it with fat. So in order to enlist the calorie-burning abilities of muscle, we do have to work at it.

The key here to long-term benefit is basic strength training. Buy some hand weights, a bar, and some stretch bands, and channel your high school gym teacher. And don’t ignore your core; planks, curls, and Pilates moves help strengthen the deep core muscles that are key to posture. Make it as pleasant as possible; work out while you watch the evening news or your favorite sit-com. Other tools that help: kettlebells, an exercise ball, and ankle weights. Slowly and gradually build up those biceps, abs, deltoids, and glutes, and you’ll have some key allies in your fight to prevent age-related weight gain.

7. Get more sleep to burn more calories.

As any perimenopausal woman or hardworking man over 35 can tell you, sleep gets ever more elusive as you age. It’s not just that we’re busier and more stressed. We also have multiple physical issues, from back pain to snoring to night sweats, any of which can interfere with getting a good night’s sleep.

Yet, paradoxically, getting a good night’s sleep is one of the keys to losing weight. In recent years, significant research has shown that lack of sleep is directly connected to weight gain because of the actions of two hormones, leptin and ghrelin, that control hunger and satiety, or feeling full. One key study concluded, “Sleep duration may be an important regulator of body weight and metabolism.” Here’s how it works: When you’re sleep deprived, ghrelin levels increase at the same time that leptin levels decrease. The result is more craving, less feeling full. Add to that the fact that sleep-deprived people often crave “energy” foods, which tend to be sweet or salty, and you can see how small changes in your routine can add up to big weight gain.

And there’s more. Recently, studies have shown that our bodies are most metabolically active while we sleep, and that sleeping less than six hours impairs glucose tolerance, a key precursor to diabetes. So the longer we sleep, the more efficiently our inner fat-burning and sugar-processing engines function.

Add these all together and you can see a pattern emerging: The older we are, the harder it is to get a good night’s sleep — and the less we sleep, the more likely it is we’ll gain weight. What to do? Take steps to combat sleep problems and your waistline will benefit, too.

8. Strike up a healthy relationship with your sweet tooth.

If you’re dying for a sweet treat, give it to yourself, savoring it slowly so it registers fully with your brain’s pleasure sensors. A trick that many experts recommend: Cut the treat in half before you start eating, carefully wrapping the second half up to “save for later.” You may or may not want it — sometimes if you eat the first half slowly and consciously enough, you’ll feel satisfied. But knowing it’s there if you do plays a nice trick on your brain, which tends to crave things it perceives as being in short supply.

Also, don’t try to substitute artificially flavored sweets. Researchers have recently discovered that artificial sweeteners fail to trigger the body’s natural satisfaction response. So eating that 100-calorie artificially sweetened cookie only adds to your problems; you’ll keep on wanting the real cookie, so the 100 calories you just ate were in vain.

9. Forget dieting. Instead, focus on your fuel-to-energy ratio.

If, like most 40-somethings, you’re packing some extra pounds, you’ve probably made plenty of resolutions to go on a diet. You’ve also probably figured out by this point in your life that diets rarely work, and neither does suddenly embarking on a strenuous new exercise regimen. There’s a good reason that sudden, drastic changes don’t lead to long-term weight loss, and may even lead to a rebound. Have you noticed that your weight tends to stay fairly constant week to week, even if one day you go on a junk food binge and the next day you’re fairly good? Nature designed us with optimum abilities to maintain a steady metabolic rate, because it helps us weather food shortages and sudden demands on our energies.

Unfortunately, this means that when you’ve gradually gained weight over time, your body has adapted to the new weight and now does its best to hold onto it. So here’s what you do: You make slow, gradual adjustments to each end of the equation. And you — and only you — decide which end of the fuel-in, energy-out equation to emphasize and when.

10. Make slow, realistic changes in tune with your lifestyle.

Let’s say you want to lose 10 pounds. To do so right now, you’d have to burn 35,000 calories — an overwhelming number that would require you to eat nothing at all for about 2 weeks, or jog for 51 hours, or walk for 126 hours. Not only would it be impossible, but attempts like those would send your body into starvation-mode metabolic slowdown, sabotaging your efforts.

But you could also, much more effectively, set out to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week for the next 5 to 10 weeks. Studies show that if you take the slow-but-steady approach, you’re much more likely to keep that 10 pounds off. Remind yourself that you are the only one in charge of tuning up your metabolic engine. Decide whether to focus on cutting down the number of calories you’re consuming, or on upping the number you’re burning. Most likely, you’ll strike a balance between the two that suits you.

If six half-hour walks a week is relatively painless for you, that’s a good choice; if you can only manage three, do that. If going outdoors in ten-degree weather is singularly unappealing and you wouldn’t be caught dead in a gym but it’s not too hard to give up dessert, then prioritize dietary changes instead.

Your primary goal should be making small, gradual lifestyle changes that you can incorporate into your daily routine and stick with over time. That’s the ultimate secret to combating over-40 weight gain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quick Diet Trick…

Hey, how’s your New Year’s Goal going?  Typically we always think of a New Year’s Resolution that has to do with our health – and actually, they say that is exactly what the majority of people do.  And typically, by Feb 1st their new health goals were just a memory.

I’m still hanging in there with mine, and doing pretty good if I do say so myself!! And yes, one of my New Year’s Goals had to do with living a healthier lifestyle.  So today I’m bringing you a quick diet trick that I read recently in Winter 2012 Prevention magazine.

Change your thinking and you’ll change your behavior. Hope you enjoy the following…

THINK ABSTRACTLY:  When debating whether or not to indulge in that chocolate croissant, try envisioning the flaky pastry as a negative concept rather than a delicious treat.

Ohio State University researchers have found that associating foods with abstract ideas (identifying an apple as “longevity” and a candy bar as “energy crash,” for example) helps people resist temptation and opt for healthier choices.

 

 

 

 

2013 Change

Here we are again….deciding what new things we want to accomplish, and a lot of times the things we want to accomplish have to do with our diet.

One of the ideas I want to encourage you to do is to change how you look at the word “DIET” – start to think of it as not something you go on and off, but as a lifestyle change. And commit to figuring out how to change your current ‘diet’ to a healthier eating lifestyle, so there’s no more thinking of “…..I blew it, I’ll start over tomorrow….” STOP THAT THINKING.  It doesn’t work – never has, never will.

Change is hard. And it’s easy to get discourage when you try and don’t get the results you were hoping for. But the reality is that just making the effort is, in fact, progress.

Change is not an event with an exact start and stop point: it’s a process.

Each step you  make, even if it’s a relatively small step such as making the resolution to change, is still a step in the right direction, bringing you closer to your ultimate goal.

It’s also important to recognize that even if you take a few steps back, it’s not the end of the world. If viewed and used correctly, the missteps can serve as learning opportunities, helping you become better prepared for the next log of the trip!

So here’s to CHANGE and hoping you will have a new year full of new thinking for a healthier YOU.

 

 

I Want It – But It’s Not That Easy!

So true at times….from the top to the bottom!

Do You Have an Addiction to Food? 5 Food Addiction Symptoms

I have always enjoyed SHAPE magazine and recently found this on-line. The article is written by Jennipher Walters and describes what symptoms to look for if you’re wondering if you could be addicted to food/eating!!

I often say that in college I was addicted to Pop Tarts. In graduate school, it was candy corn. These days, thankfully, I’m more drawn to more nutritious foods, but I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard others say that they’re addicted to chocolate, or chips or fast food. While we usually all say these things in jest, the more research that is done on the brain’s reaction to some foods, the more food addiction isn’t just a joke — it’s a reality.

The latest study to come out Monday in the Archives of General Psychiatry found that a chocolate milkshake may affect the brain in the same way that cocaine might. Cocaine! Researchers are finding that high-sugarand high-fat foods, in a way, hijack the brain into not just craving but needing certain kinds of food. So how do you know if you are truly addicted to food? Or if you just really like and crave something? Below are five symptoms that may indicate an addiction to food.

5 Food Addiction Symptoms

1. Food is all you think about. If thinking about eating — or worrying about what you just ate — is getting in the way of your ability to go to work, be social or be a good family member, you may have a problem.

2. You want to stop — but you can’t. If you feel like your love of food is out of control or if you want to stop eating so much but can’t stop, it may be a sign that you need professional help.

3. You eat in secret or lie about what you’ve eaten. One characteristic of most people who are addicted to food is that they hide their eating behaviors or lie about what they’ve consumed. Feelings of guilt and shame when it comes to eating is another sign of disordered eating.

4. You eat beyond the point of fullness. Eating too much on Thanksgiving or your birthday is one thing, but regularly binging is another. If you regularly eat so much that you feel sick or can’t stop eating even though you’re full, you might be addicted to food. If you use laxatives or purge after binging, it’s especially important to seek professional help.

5. You are compelled to eat when you’re not hungry or are feeling low. While we all eat out of emotion every now and again, if you find yourself always going for high-fat and high-sugar foods when you’re lonely, bored, stressed, anxious or depressed, this can signal food addiction, as your body is using some of the chemicals in those foods to boost levels in the brain.

Jennipher Walters is a certified personal trainer, lifestyle and weight management coach and group exercise instructor, and holds an MA in health journalism.

Is it Hunger or Just a Craving?

A French proverb says “A good meal ought to begin with hunger.”  Well, there is some truth to that.  Make sure you’re not experiencing a craving (which is just an intense desire for some particular thing) before you convince yourself it’s time to eat.

True hunger is the gnawing, growling feeling that happens in your stomach, an indicator letting you know you are truly h-u-n-g-r-y.  So make sure when you experience true hunger that you’re eating a good nutritional meal.

Dine Out and Lose Weight?

Training in mindful eating can help frequent restaurant-goers prevent weight gain, according to a recent study of 35 women who dined out an average of six times a week.

One group received weekly training on portions, hunger cues, and staying aware while eating; the other didn’t.  After six weeks, the women in the mindful group cut their daily intake of food by about 300 calories and lost 4 pounds, on average.  (information provided by Consumer Reports on Health, April 2012)

Just another reason why having a Diet Coach just might be so helpful!

Reducing Blood Sugar Spikes within Your Day

Day One

I ran across these 7 rules about how the power of food can naturally slow down the sugar absorption in our bodies (by Rob Thompson, MD in the March 2012 issue of Prevention) and I loved it.

I’m a counselor, not a dietician or nutritionist so I understand the ‘psychology’ of weight loss but sometimes even I need refresher-sessions on how and why the body does what it does, and how specific foods effect the system within.   I thought the information was so interesting and explained so well that I wanted to pass along the information. I will be posting one a day. Here’s Day One.

Rule Number One:  Have a fatty snack 10 to 30 minutes before your meal.
Reason: You remain fuller longer.
At the outlet of your stomach is a muscular ring, the pyloric valve. It regulates the speed at which food leaves your stomach and enters your small intestine. This valve is all that stands between the ziti in your stomach and a surge of glucose in your blood stream. But you can send your pyloric valve a message to slow down.

Fat triggers a reflex that constricts the valve and slows digestion. As little as a teaspoon of fat – easily provided by a handful of nuts or a piece of cheese — will do the trick, provided you eat it before your meal.

The psychology of obesity, depression, overeating linked

(I thought this was worth sharing…)

There’s a deep, dark hole in a bag of potato chips – one that seems to have no end for people like Joel Meriwether of Mt. Juliet.

It leads to a maelstrom where shame and isolation spin them back toward the food that keeps them obese and depressed. Nine years after gastric bypass surgery, Meriwether has gained back about 100 pounds of the 300 he lost.

“My issue is not caring enough about myself to have the willpower,” he said.

Scientists have discovered that depression and obesity feed on each other in a cycle that is difficult to break, no matter which comes first. Obese people have a 55 percent increased risk of developing depression, and depressed people have a 58 percent greater likelihood of becoming obese, according to an article published last year in the Archives of General Psychiatry. But obesity researchers do not fully understand the triggers in the mind that cause people to overeat.

“I think in general it’s a missing part of the puzzle,” said Dr. Kevin Niswender of Vanderbilt University.

Few mental health providers have expertise in weight counseling, he said. And drug makers have not been able to fashion a medicine for weight loss without adverse psychological effects, including depression.

Increasingly, the medical community is endorsing weight loss surgery for people with life-threatening levels of body fat and obesity-related diseases. But surgery does not always work. The Roux-en-Y gastric bypass that Meriwether received, which studies have shown results in more weight loss than Lap-Band procedures, has long-term failure rate of more than 20 percent.

SHAME DOESN’T MELT AWAY

Meriwether went into the surgery in 2002 weighing 580 pounds and had lost 275 pounds a year and half later. He kept shedding until he had lost about 300.

But then he started gradually gaining.

“Over time as one goes through one’s life after they have had the surgery, the pouch will just naturally begin to extend,” he said. “It may be that one day you eat a little bit more and you will not realize it.”

Although he underwent counseling before and after his surgery, he still put on weight. Self-image issues are at the root of his problem, he said. Meriwether now weighs 400 pounds.

“There is shame. Shame is an extremely powerful motivator,” he said. “There is fear of change. There’s that fear of changing who you thought you were.”

And there’s the sense of being alone.

“I’ve never really had a full-time romantic relationship,” he said. “It can be very difficult because society seems like it is based on couples rather than singles. It can be very, very difficult. Thank goodness I have a huge circle of very close friends.”

He’s maintaining – not gaining – by closely watching what he eats, avoiding white-flour carbohydrates and limiting his intake of dairy products and sugar. This summer he has kept the weight off by traveling, which forces him to walk more.

But the extra pounds prevent him from strenuous exercise. The 45-year-old man has developed arthritis in his knees.

GROUP OFFERS SUPPORT

Meriwether won’t go to a YMCA to exercise in a pool, where the water would cushion the impact on his knees, because he doesn’t want people to see him in a swimsuit. On Tuesday, he could go without worrying about people staring. That’s when the Green Hills YMCA will start a Restore Ministries program for people with body image issues.

A group of 10 people will go into a room behind a closed door on that day and start meeting every Tuesday for eight weeks.

“We’ve actually had some groups where we’ve had people who struggled with obesity and people who struggled with anorexia,” said Charity Mulhern, a field specialist with Restore Ministries. “What it all boils down to is underneath they look very similar.”

The participants talk about their struggles and give one another encouragement. By the end of the course, those who complete the program are exercising with everyone else.

APPETITE SUPPRESSION TRICKY

Unraveling the circuitry within the brain that causes different people to respond to food in different ways could some day lead to better medicines to treat obesity.

“Those parts of the brain that regulate feeding behaviors and appetite are also important to mood – the same neurochemicals, the same receptors, the same neurotransmitter systems,” Niswender said. “The problem with a lot of the weight loss drugs is they have been causing mood problems: depression.”

But so is the food. Comfort food lulls people into the depression-obesity cycle when they try to eat through problems, worries and insecurities. The same chemical reaction from the food that calms has another effect.

“It’s a vicious cycle,” Niswender said. “Whatever somebody’s stress food might be, we know that insulin and insulin resistance are part of depression. What does a potato do? It invokes profound insulin secretion.”

Meriwether’s problem is more pizza than potatoes.

“One of my downfalls was pizza,” he said. “I used to say pizza was the perfect food group because it had dairy, it had vegetable, it had protein and it had bread. Now, I don’t eat pizza at all because I can’t handle it.”

He plans to have a revision of the surgery from nine years ago, but so far he hasn’t convinced his insurer to cover the cost.

“What I have been told is that the gastric pocket that was created was not as strong as the ones they do now,” Meriwether said. “I was able to gradually add weight after that surgery because the pocket grew. It grew through natural extension like one’s stomach does originally.”

Next time around, he hopes to do a better job of keeping the weight off..

“You’ve got to really be ready for the consequences of having the surgery, psychologically, because if you’re not ready you’re not going to be successful,” Meriwether said. “One needs to combat the entire issue of shame and fear and realize that on the opposite side of that surgery you are going to have to deal with the same issues that you did before the surgery.”

Written by Tom Wilemon
The Tenessean August 18, 2011

Dealing with Depression and Weight Gain

What happens first – you gain weight and then feel depressed? Or, you’re depressed and gain weight because of it?  It’s a good question and one that frustrates a lot of people.

This can be a tough time of year for many people. The long, cold, winter days can linger and emotionally the mundane moments can really take a toll on your thinking and your physical being. You feel different, you act different, you move different – it’s like working your way through sludge.

If you experience depression, or know of someone who struggles with it, the ‘heaviness’ can really crush your spirit, and the physical symptoms from carrying more weight, start to affect you. It gets hard to redirect yourself without support, education, and in some cases – medication.  

So I wanted to share the following information with you. There is some interesting insight on the connection between weight gain and depression in this article and I think many of you will find it helpful!

Is Depression Wrecking Your Weight?

They are both heavy burdens – weight problems and depression, And they often go hand in hand.

Some people gain weight when they’re depressed. Others lose weight, to an unhealthy degree.

Which comes first? And how can you untangle the link between depression and weight – especially if depression has sapped you of your energy to makes changes? Here’s what experts say you need to know.

Depression and Weight Gain

A March 2010 review of 15 studies, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, linked obesity to a greater risk of developing depression – and vice versa.

But do people gain weight because they are depressed? Or do they become depressed because of the excess pounds they are carry” No one knows.

“It’s a chicken and the egg phenomenon,” says psychologist Leslie Heinberg, PhD, who directs the Bariatric and Metabolic Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. “But we do know that depression has lots of symptoms that can worsen obesity – appetite disturbances, lack of energy, lack of motivation to do things.”

In 2009, researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham reported that depressed people tend to gain weight faster than people who aren’t depressed.

The bulk of those extra pounds was concentrated around their waists. That’s not good. Belly fat is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

Depression, of course, comes with its own set of risk factors, including suicide, social isolation, drug and alcohol addiction, and anxiety.

Whichever comes first – depression or overweight/obesity – it is a very unhealthy combination. Often, it is a self-reinforcing combo as well.

Eating Yourself Blue

“Some foods, especially foods with high sugar and/or fat content, make you feel better, if only briefly,” says psychiatrist James Gordon, MD, author of  Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven-Stage Journey out of Depression. 

“That good feeling makes you want to eat more, which in turn makes you feel bad about yourself,” Gordon says. “That leads to deeper depression, and more eating, and greater amounts of weight gain. It’s a vicious cycle.”

Getting out of that cycle can be a real challenge.

“When you are depressed, it is much harder to get out of bed, much less pay attention to what you are eating,” says Edward Abramson, PdD, an emeritus professor of psychology at California State University at Chico and the author of Emotional Eating: What You Need To Know Before Starting Another Diet.

For doctors, it’s less important to know which came first: the patient’s depression or with weight problems. The question is, which one should get the most initial attention?

“If someone comes to me who is severely depressed and overweight, the depression is going to be the primary focus,” says Abramson.

However, he continues, an eating disorder that causes a patient to binge might need to be addressed first: “If their eating is out of control, that becomes the primary focus.”

Although weight gain is commonly associated with depression, weight loss can also be a problem.

“With severe depression, you might lose weight because you’ve lost your interest in food, which comes from losing in interest in pleasure.” Gordon says. Loss of pleasure is a hallmark of depression,

Depression may also accompany an eating disorder. In Heinberg’s practice at the Cleveland Clinic, patients with anorexia nervosa are often depressed.

“In patients with low body weight, the brain becomes starved and they develop symptoms that meet the criteria for depression,” she says.  “Often, once you feed them, the depression goes away. It’s resolved, and it’s generally resolved quickly.”

If You Move, You Lose – Pounds and Depression

Treating depression often takes a multipronged approach that may include talk therapy and medication, as well as exercise, a healthy diet, and other lifestyle measures.

It’s important to know that weight gain is a common side effect of some of many prescribed antidepressants.

Fortunately, patients who are both overweight and depressed can help themselves with the same prescription: exercise, which can help counterbalance drug-related weight gain.

“I won’t necessarily tell them to watch what they are eating at first,” says Abramson, “but I will work with them to get them to move.”

At the beginning of therapy, that usually means walking. Abramson recommends picking up a pedometer before hitting the sidewalk. By measuring the number of steps they take each time they walk, they can monitor their progress. And, says Abramson, “small victories equal positive thoughts.”

Heinberg often prescribes walking as well. She likes to focus on her patients’ depression for the first six to eight weeks of therapy, introducing low-key exercise only to keep weight steady rather than bring it down. Once the depression is under control, she says, it becomes easier to address weight problems.

Be Active, Make Choices Feel Better

Exercise is a key part of treating overweight and depression, in part because it allows patients to play an active role in caring for themselves. In fact, Gordon maintains that exercise is the best prescription for treating mild to moderate depression, as well as being helpful for severe depression.

“People feel good about doing things for themselves – that, in itself, is therapeutic,” Gordon says.

Gordon also recommends taking a break from fast food and other unhealthy eating habits: instead, he says, make time to cook a meal for yourself.

“It goes beyond just preparing something healthier to eat than fast food,” says Gordon. “People get engage in their own care, and that’ crucial to dealing with weight.”

Gordon, who is the founder and director of the Center for Mindy Body Medicine in Washington, D.C., includes alternative and complementary treatments in his practice. Key among them is meditation.

“You have to become aware of what and how you eat, through mindfulness,” says Gordon. “Very often, if you are anxious, you are going to eat more. But if you are in a state of relaxation, you won’t be eating frantically or mindlessly.”

by Matt McMillen
article WebMD

www.hendersoncounselingservices.com