Obe­sity: When food be­comes a dys­func­tional dis­trac­tion

Dr Martinez pro­poses, based on cred­i­ble re­search ev­i­dence, that longevity is learned, and the causes of health are in­her­ited. He has stud­ied healthy cen­te­nar­i­ans (100 years or older) world­wide and found that only 20 to 25% can be at­trib­uted to ge­net­ics –

Living Now - - Editorial - by Mario E. Martinez

Dr Martinez pro­poses, based on cred­i­ble re­search ev­i­dence, that longevity is learned, and the causes of health are in­her­ited. He has stud­ied healthy cen­te­nar­i­ans (100 years or older) world­wide and found that only 20 to 25% can be at­trib­uted to ge­net­ics – the rest is re­lated to how they live and the cul­tural be­liefs they share.

In my work with healthy cen­te­nar­i­ans (one hun­dred years or older) world­wide I did not find one case of mor­bid obe­sity – not be­cause they do not eat heartily, but be­cause, for them, food is a rit­ual of love rather than a rou­tine of dis­trac­tion. Some are mod­er­ately over­weight with­out dele­te­ri­ous health ef­fects be­cause they un­der­stand you should only eat when you are au­then­ti­cally hun­gry, and never as a fear paci­fier. For­tu­nately, since ge­net­ics only ac­counts for 25% of their longevity, healthy cen­te­nar­ian con­scious­ness can be learned at any age – in­clud­ing mind­ful eat­ing.

I also learned from cen­te­nar­i­ans how to de­tect the dif­fer­ence be­tween rou­tine and rit­ual. For them, rou­tine is a pat­tern of be­hav­iour to main­tain so­cial sta­tus quo – bathing, shopping, shav­ing, dress­ing, and so on. A rit­ual is ac­tion that iden­ti­fies us with the cul­tural rites we learned with kind­ness, and as­so­ciate with fond mem­o­ries: hot tea be­fore bed, a walk by the ocean, meals with fam­ily, cel­e­brat­ing spe­cial oc­ca­sions, pri­vate self-car­ing time, pil­grim­age to revered places, and so on. Some­times, how­ever, meals with fam­ily could be where you cul­tur­ally learn to overeat be­cause you are told to ‘clean your plate’ or not refuse se­cond help­ings. Some cul­tures con­sider it dis­re­spect­ful to not eat all you’re served.

I ar­gue, based on my clin­i­cal re­search and 20 years of neu­ropsy­chol­ogy prac­tice, that obe­sity is not an ill­ness. Di­ets are not sus­tain­able. Many of the multi­bil­lion-dol­lar in­dus­tries of weight man­age­ment clin­ics, diet foods, and diet pro­grams are im­plic­itly based on the false premise that obe­sity is ei­ther an ill­ness or a con­duct dis­or­der that can be re­solved from the out­side with strate­gies to lose weight. Preda­tory obe­sity mar­ket­ing cre­ates help­less­ness to sell solutions that have lit­tle sus­tain­abil­ity.

Obe­sity is main­tained by a mind­set that serves as dis­trac­tions from our ex­is­ten­tial hunger to con­firm our self­worth. These dis­trac­tions with food of­ten shift to other ex­ces­sive be­hav­iours (smok­ing, gam­bling, video games) when suc­cess in the bat­tle for obe­sity is de­fined by weight loss. In other words, the cor­rect ob­jec­tive is to change the dis­trac­tions rather than lose weight.

Overeat­ing is the symp­tom – what you’re avoiding is the cause.

The biocog­ni­tive (mind-body) method that re­solves obe­sity, rather than change be­hav­iour that shifts dis­trac­tions, is based on learn­ing how to love food, rather than to need food. We only abuse what we need, and as we learn to fill the void of self-wor­thi­ness, the love we gain will be pro­jected to the food that we will no longer need to abuse.

Chang­ing your ap­proach to healthy eat­ing re­quires prac­tis­ing pa­tience, rather than be­ing a pa­tient; seek­ing coau­thors of suc­cess, rather than mar­ket­ing preda­tors; lov­ing food, rather than need­ing food; and re­plac­ing the dis­trac­tions to avoid anx­i­ety, with op­por­tu­ni­ties to ac­cept your wor­thi­ness. How­ever, the change that I pro­pose is more than shift­ing from self-de­feat­ing thoughts to self-car­ing thoughts. Last­ing change re­quires ac­tion that gives your brain ev­i­dence to sup­port your new path. Since dis­trac­tions to avoid the anx­i­ety of lone­li­ness, bore­dom, sad­ness, self-doubt and fear are mis­taken for sig­nals of hunger, food be­comes the most im­por­tant pur­suit of the day. I should cau­tion, how­ever, that the vac­uum cre­ated by no longer us­ing food as a sub­sti­tute, must be filled with what is truly lack­ing – feed­ing wor­thi­ness rather than false hunger.

When you recog­nise the true sig­nals of hunger, you can be­gin to love food be­cause it is no longer a mask for self-de­feat. If you re­quire pro­fes­sional help, seek hum­ble teach­ers, rather than ar­ro­gant ‘spe­cial­ists’.

Some prac­ti­cal tools to start your healthy love af­fair with food: 1 Any time you feel a need to eat, de­cide if the sig­nal is com­ing from in­side or out­side. Body sen­sa­tions, thoughts, and emo­tions are some of the in­ter­nal sig­nals. See­ing or hear­ing com­mer­cials, con­ver­sa­tions about food and weight are some of the ex­ter­nal sig­nals. 2 Did you have an in­ter­nal or ex­ter­nal sig­nal? Look for pat­terns. 3 Be­fore as­sum­ing the sig­nal is hunger, de­ter­mine if it’s a dis­trac­tion. If it is, iden­tify how it feels in your body and breathe deeply from the stom­ach to defuse the strength of the sig­nal. Then re­spond to the false sig­nal with the ap­pro­pri­ate so­lu­tion: if it’s anx­i­ety, take a few min­utes to re­lax; if bore­dom, re­con­nect with your cre­ativ­ity; if fear, iden­tify the cul­prit and take ac­tion, and so on. 4 If you’re not suc­cess­ful when you first try, cel­e­brate that you are ap­prox­i­mat­ing suc­cess, and wait for the next dis­trac­tion as if you were pre­par­ing to catch a thief. 5 Fo­cus on the dis­trac­tions rather than on weight loss. The weight loss will be in­di­rect rather than planned. 6 Any time you suc­cess­fully iden­tify and cor­rect a dis­trac­tion, cel­e­brate your self-car­ing ac­tion. The cel­e­bra­tion could be as sim­ple as a smile or go­ing for a con­tem­pla­tive walk. The cel­e­bra­tion could in­clude adding a healthy rit­ual to your life. 7 Any­time you iden­tify an au­then­tic hunger sig­nal, en­joy what you will eat, slowly and mind­fully. You will no­tice when you pay at­ten­tion to what you’re eat­ing, you will eat less junk food and less quan­tity. When this hap­pens you have started your healthy love af­fair with food. 8 Do not diet. Diet drinks and diet foods in­crease your ap­petite, can cause inflammation, and leave you with a false sense of ac­com­plish­ment. In­stead, learn to eat healthy, de­li­cious food. Be cre­ative – learn how to cook. 9 Prac­tise healthy rit­u­als to re­place un­healthy rou­tines. 10 Cel­e­brate who you are in­de­pen­dent of your weight. You are much more than the ex­tra weight you carry to dis­tract you from cel­e­brat­ing your ex­cel­lence.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.