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Psycholinguistic Motivational Educational Model as a Treatment for Obesity
People tend to imagine those who suffer from eating disorders as emaciated teenagers unable to grow up. However, the facts are quite different. A very large number of our clients suffer from obesity and according to our statistics more than 45% of those who suffer from obesity also suffer from eating disorders.
Our experience has shown us that information alone does not deliver a change in eating patterns or lifestyle habits. Basically, people absorb the information but ignore it. Obese people are viewed and almost universally treated with disdain. This intensifies their problem and, as result, many turn to periods of bulimia and starvation in desperate attempts to deal with their weight problem.
It is heart-wrenching to listen that being obese causes absolute misery. It ruins people’s lives, it occupies all their energy and it is a major hazard to emotional well-being. The message to eat less and exercise more is a typical approach taken in dealing with the chronically overweight. Little is taken into account of their mental approach to losing weight and keeping it off. Most sufferers know all the theories connected with weight loss. They are the best dieters in the world, they just do not know how to manage their body and their emotional connection. People with weight problems use their body as an emotional punching bag; as a coping mechanism for life situations.
Each person’s attitude towards food is influenced by their attitude towards food in the home environment. If one parent is always dieting and is always dissatisfied with her or his body, subconsciously the child absorbs this and regards it as normal. The never-ending supply of diets aimed at vulnerable sufferers will shift weight in the short term, but does not solve the problem of an unhealthy attitude to and a distressed relationship with food.
A very important part of work with weight issues is motivation. A person needs this strategy when they want results, but it is hard to get exited about the process. There are two things that motivate people – one is inspiration and the other is desperation. Everyone uses both to some degree. In coaching people, it is important to use both motivations, away from and toward.
In 1994, the DSM-IV introduced criteria for binge eating disorder, BED. The criteria for BED states that an episode of binge eating is characterised by both of the following; eating in a discrete period of time, an amount of food that is definitely larger than most people would eat in similar period of time under similar circumstances and a sense of lack of control over eating during the episode. This establishment of criteria for BED in the field of weight management is important as it acknowledges that the manner in which a person uses food and reason for consuming food could be just as important to the disease presentation as the total energy consumed.
Recognising BED is not as simple as it appears. Clients with BED often seek weight-loss counselling, and a better screening service in required.
The Power of Words
The way in which a person thinks influences the way that person feels. If we want to change a feeling, we must first change the thinking. If we want to help a person recover from an eating distress, we need to learn the language of eating distress. We need to be aware that suffers will interpret everything that is said in their language of negativity. We need to focus attention on what to do and how to do it, rather than on problems, excuses and explanations.
Instead of hearing clear encouraging messages promoting health and well-being, sufferers hear an endless parade of ‘good foods’ versus ‘bad foods’, negativism and a lot of contradictions.
Sometimes, without realising it, certain statements we make about food, and weight, etc. can increase others’ negativity. It is important to be aware of this and remember that we may contribute to someone’s ED by:
- Admiring thinness/Admiring weight loss diets
- Encouraging perfectionism
- Encouraging someone to pursue a diet or depriving themselves of fattening food.
- Making negative comments about your own or somebody else fatness/ Disapproving fatness in general
- Making statements which presume that bigger people should lose weight
- Making statements which presume that bigger people eat too much
- Referring to “good” and “bad” foods
- Admiring excessive exercise