Obesity is not (only) about food

Few days ago, I got a mail from a client of mine, Luuk.

“Dear Eleni, I want to inform you that I have already lost 23 kgs and I feel better than ever. I am amazed and forever grateful to you for helping me to get rid of this weight. Warm regards, Luuk”

23kgs…! It’s been almost 3 months since I had the last session with Luuk. Five sessions in total were needed for me to explain to him what a healthy diet is, what adjustments he needed to do to lose weight and help him with some practical ideas on how to follow a healthy diet with his busy schedule and cooking skills (the lack of them, actually).

For Luuk, losing weight was as simple as sorting out his misinformation. All he needed is to go through the vast chaos of pseudoscience he had been reading online and get to see the scientific evidence about healthy weight loss. Just by improving his health literacy he is now able to make healthier food choices, and his body is naturally losing weight which will be maintained, for sure.

But for most overweight and obese people, things are not so simple.

The European Association for the study of Obesity (EASO) has been studying many of the causes that contribute to this modern epidemic. Nutrition, genetics, epigenetics, hormonal factors, physical activity, sleep, stress management, obesogenic chemicals, endocrine disruptors, socioeconomic factors are few of the factors that are responsible for the rising obesity rates among adults and children.

12 causes of obesity, European Association for the Study of Obesity

And then, above all these factors, here comes the weight of our feelings.

For many of us, our weight is not just the result of low nutritional literacy. It is often the weight of our emotions, the weight of the unspoken feelings that we have been eating and swallowing for decades. For many of us, the extra weight is the result of a childhood where food was the coping mechanism. It is also the result of an awfully obesogenic society that does not protect the most vulnerable to obesity, but on the opposite, it crushes them under the stigma of personal responsibility. Some of us may have a remarkably high level of nutritional literacy and still struggle to keep these kilos away, because we could eat 1500 calories of whole food plant-based food, at 3am.

So, no, obesity is definetely not only about food…

So if you are one of us, carrying this extra weight that you cannot lose for years, you need to know what kind of weight you really carry…

Is it the weight of your inadequate nutritional literacy, the weight of your emotions, or both…?

Embrace your body, fill your heart with self-compassion and ask: “What do I really need…?”

A psychologist, a health coach, or both…?