Well we’re well past January 1, and most people have given up on their New Year’s resolution. One of the most common resolutions is the goal to “lose weight, and get fit.” The problem isn’t the resolution; the problem is the intended solution: a diet.

The problem with diets is that they are contra-indicated to the problem of overweight and obesity. Diets over time simply just don’t work.  They actually make the problem worse! 95% of dieters regain their weight in a year, +5 pounds more. When the dieter inevitably fails, they blame themselves for their “lack of self-control.”

Yet the truth is, diets actually set us up to fail. Our old survival brain comes back online and prevents us from starving to death (which is really what most diets are). The famous Minnesota Starvation Study verified this phenomenon; our brain will only allow us to starve for so long.

Those who are overweight need a long-term weight loss plan and a change in their relationship with food and their body image. Over eating is often more like an addictive behavior – like gambling, smoking, or drinking – and in many cases, a treatment plan designed by someone who specializes in the psychological reasons we overeat can be effective in changing those long-term habits.

Binge Eating Disorder (BED) has recently been added to the Diagnostic Manual of Psychological Disorders (DSM-5) and is classified as an Eating Disorder. Symptoms include: eating when not hungry, eating in secret, eating rapidly, eating until uncomfortably full, and feeling guilty or ashamed afterwards.

Many overweight and obese individuals are symptomatic for BED and the eating disorder treatment community has aggressively pursued treatment strategies to help patients struggling with the condition. Fortunately, treatment is now covered by insurance.

So next January 1 (or sooner), I strongly recommend anyone who has struggled with long-term weight loss, and whose diets have failed them, to meet with a psychotherapist who specializes in disorder eating. And if you know someone who is overweight or obese, please understand that a diet is the last thing they need.

Remember, overeating IS disordered eating.

Kelly Lewallen, is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist practicing in Palm Desert and a member of Desert Doctors.  She can be reached at (760) 777.7720.  For more information visit her website at KellyLewallenmft.com or go to DesertDoctors.org.

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