By Gina Cousineau
Weekly, I find myself asking my clients if they are truly “committed” or merely “interested” in reaching their goals.
It might sound a bit harsh, but the reality of this question comes when people don’t allow their supposed “intense” desire for weight loss to guide their commitment to the actions needed to achieve that goal.
Hopefully, after all these years of following along, you, my insightful readers, know that my “hunger” is for everyone to embrace a “healthy eating pattern” and, in return, this will allow them to achieve a “healthy weight” for this season of their life.
I have spent a great deal of my recent continuing education hours learning about psychological addictions, and not just in the realm of alcohol and drugs, but with food. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), the first 12-step fellowship, was founded in 1935 by Bill Wilson and Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith.
While there are other 12-step programs, AA has led the way for other programs like Overeaters Anonymous. OA is a community of people who, through shared experience, strength, and hope, are recovering from unhealthy relationships with food and body image using the AA “Big Book” and principles as their guide.
It is important to clearly understand that with alcohol and drugs, sobriety is the only solution, which means completely refraining from the substance(s) or behavior(s) forever. We can’t eliminate food from our lives, but for those who have an unhealthy relationship with food, what then is the solution?
In programs such as OA, individuals learn instead that they might need to “abstain” from “trigger” foods that threaten the individual’s ability to heal, allowing them to then work toward or maintain a healthy body weight through the 12 steps.
Let’s get back to the “committed or interested” theme I proposed at the start.
First, I need to tell you that in my practice, most people have some form of “disordered eating.” There are those who are inherently thin, who are really good at having food boundaries that allow them to control their weight.
But then we can swing the other direction to those who have been on every diet in the world, and while they can “lose weight” with the latest punitive and restrictive approaches, and waste money on the “in vogue” pill, powder, or potion, they cannot keep the weight off once they go back to their old ways.
And don’t forget those with diagnosed eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, according to the DSM Manual, the standard classification for mental disorders used by mental health professionals in the US
No matter their weight, many of these individuals are malnourished, meaning they aren’t getting the nutrition they need to be healthy human beings, and being “at weight” doesn’t mean they are “healthy.”
That is why I always say I have one of the hardest jobs in the world, but also the most satisfying.
My hope is to encourage and educate individuals on how to commit to a healthy eating pattern most of the time, with science- and evidence-based nutrition leading the way. For those who don’t struggle with “addictive food” tendencies, this nutrition shift will then allow them to add treats and splurges on occasion and thrive in life.
On the other hand, too many of us need help with controlling these self-destructive eating behaviors. Check out the screening tools at both oa.org and nationaleatingdisorder.org to identify if you or someone you love can benefit from these two fantastic resources.
Gina Cousineau, aka Mama G, is your local nutrition expert, chef, and fitness professional, with her BS in Nutrition and MS in functional and integrative nutrition. She uses a food-as-medicine approach for weight loss to health gain, and everything in between. Follow her on social media @mamagslifestyle, and check out her website mamagslifestyle.com to learn more about her programs and freebies offered throughout the year.