The lifestyle choices we make each day such as what we eat and how we live are among the most significant underlying causes of obesity and other chronic diseases.
Understanding healthy eating is important, but usually is not sufficient. If it were, we would all be thin and healthy as most of us know which foods are healthy and unhealthy to eat. Evidently we need to work at a deeper level.
Helping patients with weight loss these past eight years, I learned that the experience of emotional pain and unhappiness can affect how we eat. There are many who use food to forget their sorrow, stress or their depression.
Some of us eat to numb the emotional pain or to escape from reality, but by the time we eat we have already experienced the stress and difficulties.
Eating itself will not dissolve the problems, and I recognize that as long as the patient uses food as a comfort, he or she will struggle to maintain a healthy weight.
When you recognize that you are eating out of an emotional experience, think of another activity that will make you feel better.
Maybe call and talk with a friend or a family member, listen to your favorite music, write a journal or take a walk outside.
Acknowledge your feeling or emotion and take the time to process them.
We cannot avoid stress in life, so we need to learn how to control our responses to stress and prevent it from controlling our life.
Here are a few of influential books I recommend on this topic: "Women, Food and God," by Geneen Roth, "Mindful Eating, Mindful Living," by T.N. Hanh and Dr. L Cheung, and "A Course in Weight Loss," by Marianne Williamson.
Damayanti is a registered dietitian at Sutter Gould Medical Foundation in Modesto and San Joaquin County.