Clinical Psychology and Extreme Weight Gain


Most of us think that people who are overweight or obese have a problem relating to a lack of motivation for exercise, not being properly educated about proper diet and fitness, or just being plain lazy. Recent research suggests that the inability to control weight, overeating, and improper exercise may be contributed to issues related to clinical psychology and mental illness more than once thought.

Depression and Finding Comfort in Food

We have all heard and probably over indulged in “comfort food” many times throughout our lives. When we sit down for Thanksgiving Dinner, eat two-thirds of a meat lover’s pizza in one sitting, or visit every single vendor at a state fair; there are serotonin triggers which go off in our brains and make us feel happy. This feeling of elation is common to that of a high you get when consuming drugs or alcohol. For some people, these types of behaviors are relegated to special occasions or even extreme eating challenges as seen on show like Man vs. Food.

According to Dr. Eleanor Bryant at the University of Bradford, England, people with high disinhibition take more pleasure in food than the rest of society. These types of people can not control their need to eat. Instead of turning to food as a nutrition source or function for socialization, people with high disinhibition scores will continue to eat until the pleasure levels in their brains are satisfied.

Like people who struggle with alcohol and drugs, people with an addiction to food often build up a tolerance and require more and more in order to achieve the same high as any other addict would. Dr. Bryant also thinks that over eating is a step back to the days when food was not easy to come by and we had to hunt and scavenge for it. Cavemen and early ancestors would eat as much as they could in one sitting and not exercise in order to save calories in order to survive. It was often hard for the brain’s pleasure triggers to trip, so they would think of the experience as enlightening. This may be an old flaw that is still latent in some people’s brains.

How to Overcome the Food Drug

Georges Philips and Simon Shawcross have written a book blending exercise and psychology into a collaborative effort called “TheONE Diet.” The book describes how society is primarily eating foods that are not real and overly processed. The book aims to help people eat better foods that can be easily accessed through today’s supermarket and convenience store culture. It also provides psychological and linguistic methods for helping oneself.

Proper education on why we need to eat and what foods contribute the best to our bodies is an important thing to teach our children. It is important to realize that the stomach takes about twenty minutes to tell the brain that it is full. By analyzing how much you eat and how often you eat it, you can get a a glimpse into what your body really needs.

Parents need to set a good example for their children throughout every meal of the day. Complex carbohydrates and protein will provide boosts of energy throughout the day. A larger lunch and a couple of snacks are okay to eat because the body will still need to fuel up later in the day. Dinner should not be considered the most important meal of the day, in terms of nutritional need. Instead make it a family affair and focus on conversation instead of chowing down on processed or frozen foods.

Many people disregard the psychological aspect of weight loss and malnutrition and chock it up to individualist factors and other improper theories. By taking a step back and really thinking about what we are putting into our bodies and why we are doing it, tackling current health epidemics will be much easier.


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