Um, hm, control? Not really – it has very little (if anything) to do with control. It is more a matter of finding a way of eating that results in a healthy sate for your body. So maybe ‘healthy weight’ is the better term. Excess weight is only the symptom of the underlying problems or struggles. If the focus is on the weight, instead of the cause, (the habits, beliefs, and behavior around food) then it is like taking a pill for a headache – the pill only dulls the pain of the headache but the headache will continue to come back until the cause is treated (like getting glasses). So diets only treat the symptom (excess weight), while changing the relationship (habits, beliefs, and behaviors) with food is treating the cause and creates a lasting change.

Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight can be a real challenge. It means discovering the fine balance between calories consumed and what a body needs. This sounds simple but can be difficult to achieve, especially when food and eating becomes more than nourishing the body for health. Emotions, such as anger, frustration, or boredom, often trigger an eating response that is not for nourishing the body but rather to relieve uncomfortable feelings. If a person eats when not physically hungry, the body will store those calories as fat and there goes the balance.

There are two parts to the weight equation that people can change or adjust: 1) calories consumed, & 2) calories used. Let’s look at calories consumed first. If a person eats 100 calories per day more than what they are burning, they will gain approximately 10 pounds in a year. Now 100 calories is not a lot of food! It’s one piece of bread, or one glass of non-fat milk, or a couple of pieces of fruit, or one ounce of meat! In other words, it does not take a lot of excess calories to gradually gain weight. The good news is it also does not take a lot of calories to shift the balance the other way and gradually decrease weight! The difficulty really sets in when people are so impatient that they want the weight off FAST!!! Most of the time that is not how it came on and the chances of keeping it off go down when it is lost quickly. When a person asks me about starting a ‘diet’, I ask them, “are you going to follow this for the rest of your life?” If the answer is no, then don’t even start! Starting a diet plan that is only meant to be temporary will result in only temporary weight loss. This often results in the person feeling even worse about themselves after the weight comes back, so what has been accomplished? In other words, to increase chances of taking off excess weight and keeping it off, the plan needs to be a gradual change in the relationship with food that will last for the rest of your life. Start with where you are right now, pick one or two things to change (i.e. eating more fruit or less snacking, etc.), and focus on those until it becomes easier to do, then focus on the next behaviors to work on. There is no easy, miracle solution. It takes time and practice to discover what a healthy relationship with food is.

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