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  • Sailaja Menon

Article about - Obesity

Updated: Jul 2, 2020

Sailaja Menon - Psychologist


How difficult is it for a person to change, especially if he/she is thinking of losing weight?


Food is often a focal point of social activity. Get together of family and friends, work events, and holidays are usually centered around food and particularly so in a city like Dubai which has such a broad and diverse spread of restaurants and eateries and socializing over food is a very accepted and common event. Eating can also be a “comfort food” for individuals who might be suffering from depression or who might be battling a phase of life crisis. Therefore, food and eating for them can become a “coping skill” during these challenging times. For some a complete lack of hope that their situation will ever change can make it difficult. Therefore challenges can be several.



What usually motivates a person?


Obesity is a complex condition for which no single cause or cure exists. Many give up beating obesity because of the low self esteem they feel about themselves and their body image. To some others, it is a learned behavior that they find difficult to break away. They lose hope and resigns to the belief that this is their way of life and this is how they can cope. Therefore, the key to motivating a person to beat obesity is to create awareness and instill a sense of “hope” that obesity is curable and manageable. This can be achieved through developing support systems such as counseling, regular visits with a dietician, identifying friends- who can motivate and inspire you to stay on the goal , physical exercise, support of family in your day to day challenges and struggles are just to name a few.



What are the triggers that set off over-eating?


There are a several factors that could trigger over eating. Therefore, it is important to get a detailed / thorough history of the individual to understand what is their “trigger point” that leads to their overeating. This helps in formulating a plan that will help them to beat obesity.

Some of the triggering factors are: Health conditions, certain medications, genetic factors and family history, inactive lifestyle, emotional factors, low self esteem, lack of sleep, age and pregnancy to name a few.



How can anybody resist the many tasty, cheap foods available?

This can be difficult especially when you live in a city where you are spoilt for choices for eating out. However, in order to be able to resist it is important that the individual is able to comprehend the fact that the goal is not to eliminate tasty foods from your life but rather to strike a balance to eat in moderation which entails, watching your portion sizes, eating during planned meal times, eating when you are hungry such that you follow a consistent and disciplined eating pattern that helps you continue enjoy eating tasty food.


What are your recommendations to someone trying to lose weight? Is there a rigid process one has to follow?


The process is not necessarily rigid but rather a state of resigning to the understanding that the process put in place needs to be consistent, disciplined and committed.

Some recommendations are as follows:

  • Monitor your eating: keep a log of your eating. It helps you to identify your learned patterns of overeating and modify them

  • Develop a meal plan- learning to eat regularly and in moderation Meet with a dietician / nutritionist to develop a realistic meal plan that is suitable for you

  • Identify support systems: Learning to intervene and prevent overeating can be challenging considering these have been learned behaviors for a very long time. Learn ways to modify these behaviors through the support of counseling, friends and family.

  • Problem Solving - It is important to understand and recognize that food can often be used “to solve problems” that bother or overwhelm them. Therefore it is critical for the individual to ask self what is making them overeat - habit, boredom, a sense of comfort or inability to resist? Understand the trigger factors to make the desired changes

  • Modifying belief and thoughts- Understand the connection between self esteem and your body weight and shape. Create a list of valuable attributes that you rate highly in an individual and yourself. How high do you value weight, size and shape in a person? Take this moment to challenge your beliefs of “perfectionism “and “all or nothing” thinking.

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