Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Emotional eating and extreme calorie restricting: obesity and deprivation links

Let's talk about obesity. In my nearly 58 years on this planet, I've been overweight, obese, normal BMI and even underweight. Obesity hit its worst, for me, in 2012 and how I lost 100 pounds, without gastric bypass and reversed that has a lot to do with TLC "My 600-lb Life." This gastric bypass reality TV show offers remarkable insights, not only in weight loss but in weight gain and obesity. 

Participants on "My 600-lb Life" usually act childish and immature. And Dr. Nowzaradan explains why: because they are adult children. They stopped developing emotionally the more obese they became. Research shows that an alcoholic's brain stops growing at the age they began chronic drinking. And the same seems true with morbid obesity. The age at which a person stops eating to live and begins living to eat (also called comfort or emotional eating), is about the age maturation stalls. 

"My 600-lb Life" backstories (and to some extent my own weight gain and loss) have roots in emotional eating. Many of the show's participants tell of hunger, poverty and deprivation as children. They never got enough food to feel satisfied. So when they could, they overate to compensate. I recall those feelings. I remember going to potlucks and just wanting to eat everything there. I recall taking, and eating, 6 desserts at a church function, to the shock of my friends. They probably thought I was a pig but I realize now, that deprivation made me food insecure, anxious and always hungry. 

When I was 8, I was put on a 1000 calorie diet because I was "overweight" (see top left picture). That was far too much calorie restricting for an adult let alone a prepubescent child. Even gastric bypass patients on "My 600-lb Life" are only put on a 1200 calorie diet. And our family history proves that we start as chubby children but lose weight in puberty. So my brain was literally starving for food. This is not to blame anyone. It's how they did things in the early 1970s. Thin was in and obesity was virtually unheard of. 

But we can learn from those mistakes. Extreme calorie restricting is NOT the way to lose weight but it is a good way to lose muscle tone and get or stay sick. During our Covid 19 illness, my husband lost 17 pounds in a week because he couldn't eat. He's not overweight. Now he is struggling to replace muscle tissue. Covid 19 taught us many lessons and the biggest was how deprivation defeats the purpose. 

Deprivation, hunger and weight loss make the body retain fat to protect itself (see my post on the many dangers of extreme calorie restricting). How I lost 100 pounds was with a 1200 calorie diet, moderation, portion control and mindful eating. I've kept my weight at a reasonable place. 

Thanks for tuning in! Left is me now and right was in 2008, before I lost weight. Subscribe to this blog for more helps and tips. 

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