14: Identify Obstacles to Healthy Eating and Exercise

If we only ate when we were hungry and stopped eating when we were full there would be little to no obesity.  But we don’t eat when we’re hungry and we don’t stop eating when we’re full.  We eat when we are stressed, bored, anxious, tired, fatigued, depressed, happy, and sad.  We eat at celebrations, funerals, holidays, birthdays, and work gatherings.  There’s always a reason to eat and there is always plentiful food available to eat.  Our food supply and food choices are endless and our calories are abundant and cheap.

This wasn’t always the case.  We know from studying the few remaining hunter-gatherer societies that the prevalence of obesity in their tribes is quite low (<5%).  Compare this with the prevalence of adult obesity in the United States at 35 – 40%.

Obesity isn’t just about the food, but rather, is a consequence of an abundant food supply, inability to regulate emotions, and a lack of control over our personal food environment.

Our abundant food supply is here to stay.  There’s just too much money to be made in cheap calories and there’s a huge consumer demand for them.  We need to figure out a way to work within this food environment to insulate ourselves from food temptation.

To address the lack of control over our personal food environment, numerous fad diets have been created.  Fad diets offer overly simplistic solutions to overly complex problems.  Don’t eat carbs (low-carb, Atkins, Keto), limit processed food (Paleo), eat low energy density foods (low-fat, high fruit and vegetable, DASH), or manage hunger (high protein, high fiber, keto, low-glycemic) (Table 14.1).  But all of these diets are missing the point.  Obesity isn’t about the food, it is about the person, their complex emotions and complex interactions within their day-to-day lives.

Table 14.1. Overly Simplistic (Food-Based) Weight Loss Advice Common to Fad Diets.

I’m not a therapist, therefore I am not trained to help you understand, explore, and analyze the underlying causes of your emotional eating.  However, what I can help you with is controlling your personal food environment and access to ultra-processed highly palatable food by helping you identify some of the obstacles (triggers) in your life holding you back.

Diets work until they don’t.  Life is messy, life is busy, and things get in the way.  Before you know it, your diet gets pushed to the side.  That can’t happen.

We need to be able to identify obstacles and incorporate strategies into your life for overcoming them.  In The Science of Dieting weight loss e-course, I have identified 33 common obstacles (Table 14.2) to healthy eating and/or dieting and multiple strategies for overcoming each obstacle.  I can’t tell you which strategy for overcoming your specific obstacle is best for your life.  This is something that you need to choose and be willing to incorporate into your routine.

Table 14.2. Common Obstacles to Losing Weight.

The last step in losing weight and keeping it off is for you to make a plan and to execute it!  If you are interested in working with me or want to learn more, please contact me. 

In our next section (15), If You Need Help, We’re Here for You, I would like to share with you some of the additional benefits of working with The Science of Dieting while also highlighting some of the other great options out there.  There are tens of thousands of terrible weight loss options out there but there are also a few really good ones.  In the next section I would like to highlight some of the other great options.