In Sight, In Your Mind (And Your Stomach)
No two dieters are alike and there are any number of factors that contribute to our weight problems. Recently, researchers at The Ohio State University uncovered two seemingly unrelated but equally powerful predictors of obesity: having low self-esteem related to one’s weight and keeping food visibly available around the house, especially outside the kitchen.
Not surprisingly, in the homes of obese folks food was distributed in more locations outside the kitchen, which suggests an environment where it’s harder to avoid eating food. In the study, obese participants also claimed significantly lower self-esteem (and more depression) regarding their body weight than did their non-obese counterparts.
It’s known that both the home environment and psychosocial factors separately have an effect on weight, but this is the first time they have been evaluated together. While most studies ignore the role of self-esteem as it pertains to obesity, it is a crucial factor to consider because people who feel badly about themselves may not feel motivated to change their home environment.
So what can we do about this? We can’t stop eating. The answer lies in changing our habits. It sounds easy enough, but changing eating habits is the most challenging aspect of helping people lose weight and keep it off. Ultimately, to change the way we eat, we have to change the way we think about eating. For that, we need strategy.
For years, Dr. Gullo has been cautioning patients to keep their homes clear of foods they have a long history abusing. After all, this is where we spend a majority of our time. Indeed, A study from the National Weight Control registry found that people who lost weight and kept it off keep problem foods out of their house and out of sight. The small percentage of Dr. Gullo’s patients who regained weight did so first in their own homes. And this slide inevitably starts with a food they have a history of abusing. We’re all vulnerable to foods that have tripped us up in the past. Just seeing a food that you routinely overeat can cause you to put it in your mouth. This is why breaking availability is the #1 strategy that winners at weight control use to avoid temptation at home.
Think about it: you can’t eat what’s not there. On the other hand, the more it’s around, the more you’ll eat and think about that food. Having problem food around the home will only perpetuate your struggle with temptation. If you have a food you overeat in your home, even if you’ve somehow managed to avoid it, remove it immediately. If you can’t (say it’s for someone else in your home), steer clear of temptation by avoiding proximity. Don’t even look at it! Consider putting it in a brown bag or tin foil so when you go into the kitchen, it’s out of sight. Put the food on a high shelf in cupboard with wooden or metal doors. And don’t work or make phone calls from your kitchen.
Without these strategies, you will invariably return to the foods you have a history of abusing. Psychologically speaking, keeping foods that tempt you around and on display at home fuels a sense of deprivation. Even if you don’t eat it, being near a favorite food, or just knowing it’s in the next room, creates a mental tug-of-war. of-war. It’s always on your mind, more so if it’s clearly visible. At home, especially, control your food curiosity. Remember that the more you center your life on a vulnerability, the more vulnerable your life will become! Availability stimulates craving. It’s not rocket science.