10 Nov I got over the break-up and all the problems at work, but the weight I put on is still here!

Story

“Up until the time I was 25 years old, I was just this skinny girl that could eat anything and not gain weight. The situation changed between the ages of 25 and 30, however. During that time, two things happened that really brought me down and made me have this huge urge to eat. I wasn’t actually eating large amounts of food, it was mostly that I wanted to nibble on something every half an hour, switching between sweet and salty treats.  This whole thing started after I broke up with the man I was going to marry, and it became even worse when I found out that my business partner had left all the business bills unpaid. That was it! In just 5 years I got from 52 kilos to 59, and ever since then, even though it’s been 3 years, I still haven’t been able to lose them. The only diet that helped me was a cabbage soup diet that I saw on TV, but it was only temporary. Once I stopped it, I gained back the kilos I’d lost and gained another 1.5kg on top of them.”

Response

Thank you for sharing your story with us.

Weight-change is common in times of emotional stress. Food often gains new meaning, it’s an escape, something that calms us down temporarily. Binge-eating is a very common cause for weight-gain, both in our everyday lives and at times of stress.

Diets like the cabbage soup diet you mentioned usually don’t work. Unfortunately, while they help you lose weight fast, their effects don’t last. The reason you gained weight again after stopping it is because your metabolic rate dropped during the diet, so it wasn’t working like it used to when you went back to your old eating habits.

Now, let’s see what you can do about that extra weight!

Binge-eating can become a habit for you and your body. It starts off as a coping mechanism for stress and sadness. The sneakiest part of it, however, is that it can persist even after you’ve gotten over your negative emotions. It does so by becoming a habit; you do it almost unconsciously. The first thing you need to do is find a substitute. A hobby, exercise to release the tension, or even walking can be good ways to relax. If you don’t have the time, or you’re not in the mood for something like that, just find something to draw your attention whenever you get the urge to binge-eat: a stress ball, Rubik’s cube, a yo-yo, a mobile game. It doesn’t matter what it is, so long as it calms you down and draws your attention away from food.

The next step is to help yourself avoid binge-eating. Remove temptation from your house. Try not to have ready foods and snacks lying around.

Replace heavy snacks with lighter choices.
Example: Fruit, small salad(no oil), toast with a teaspoon of jam, a small portion of jelly, low-fat yoghurt, a slice of bread with a slice of turkey, a cup of pop-corn, 8-10 dried nuts, 1 bar of cereal. All of these contain up to 100 calories each. Try to eat one of these, or something similar, whenever you can’t fight the urge to eat.

Finally, your body is used to eating every few hours right now. You need to gradually reduce the binge-eating between meals. Start with a maximum of 4 times a day, and in the next 2 weeks try to bring that down to 3 times a day. Repeat the process in two weeks’ time and try to reduce binge-eating down to twice a day. You’ll see that your body will gradually stop feeling the need to eat as often as it does not.

I hope that was helpful. Once again, thank you for sharing your story with us!

K.C.