Obesity has steadily become a global problem. Along with an exponentially increasing weight, obesity generally indicates deeper problems. Most people struggling to maintain their weight also have mental health issues which contribute directly to their poor health. While it’s true that some cases of obesity are due to genetics, and only surgery is the viable option for these people, most cases are not.
There are several leading reasons why someone may become obese. It could be due to dietary problems, coping mechanisms, lack of activity, or living in an environment where unhealthy food is more affordable than healthier food.
For anyone making a lifestyle change is not easy. It requires copious amounts of unconditional support and guidance as well as willpower. However, the healthcare sector has been paying attention to these rising cases and implemented several treatment programs. One such treatment program is behavioral counseling. It is an excellent method to understand the causes of obesity since most of them come from behavioral issues. Suppose you know someone who is struggling with obesity or if you’re looking for help for yourself. In that case, this is how behavioral counseling can help you:
1. A Counselor Will Help You Make Small Changes
Taking drastic actions for a long-term problem is ineffective. You can’t expect someone to give up years of habits they’ve cultivated for themselves to stop overnight. Change is always gradual. Therefore you need a good counselor who understands this concept thoroughly. Maybe you should stop snacking throughout the day and have proper meals. Gradually give away all unhealthy snacks and replace them with healthier options. You can substitute cookies for whole wheat biscuits.
At the same time, hospital and community-based health services should play a significant role in addressing obesity issues. The speedily increasing rate of obesity has prompted various policy responses at national and regional levels. Hence, practitioners pursuing an online MPH are ideal for addressing issues at all levels. They have the skills and knowledge to understand that obesity is not an isolated issue but affects the masses. With added flexibility and self-paced learning, online education has helped professionals by leaps and bound.
2. Screen for Depression
A counselor needs to know what the underlying cause of your obesity is. If you’re suffering from depression, a lifestyle change is not enough. A counselor needs to work deeper with you ensuring that while they’re helping your weight, they also need to help you with depression. It means having therapy sessions along with counseling sessions. A counselor will walk through the cause of depression and help you come out of it. No counselor will immediately start you on drugs. They always begin with a holistic approach to understand the level of depression you have. You may even choose to see a therapist instead of a counselor. In any case, there is no shame in seeking help if you’re trying to deal with more than one issue.
3. Encourage You to Self-monitor
You will need to check in with your counselor to keep track of your progress and discuss possible areas of improvement. At the same time, your counselor will encourage you to self-monitor your lifestyle. You will need to track what you eat and note it in your journal. You may need to get a calorie monitoring app to make sure that you’re eating the proper amount of calories every day. Self-monitoring also includes you tracking the amount of exercise you do in a day and for how long. Self-monitoring helps you get discipline, and it also gives you a sense of motivation to take care of yourself. When you can see the hard work you’re putting in to take care of yourself, you will want to do more. You may even research nutritional values on different meals and snacks that you purchase.
4. Take Actions to Prevent Overeating
If you are used to eating large meals, shifting to a diet plan can leave you feeling hungry. A counselor is well aware of how easy it is for you to slip, so they will ensure you’re not at risk. You may need to have a smaller plate at home. You may need to stop having snacks at home and only keep ingredients for a proper meal. Your counselor may advise you to chew slower and increase your water intake. You may take vegetables if you feel starving. In some cases, if you live close to fast food joints, it would be advisable to avoid taking the streets where they are.
5. Increase Your Level of Activity
There are varying degrees of obesity. The highest degree is complete immobility. A counselor first needs to determine how to get a fitness regime in your lifestyle. If you have joint problems, you may start small with walking and stretching exercises with exercise equipment. Asking you to join the gym right away is unrealistic and dangerous. When your body cannot handle intense movements, you may end up injuring yourself badly. Once you see a fluctuation in your weight and more movement, you may look into joining a gym.
6. Have a Meal Plan for You
A counselor may refer you to a nutritionist to help you find the right meal plan for you. As you’re trying to come down from obesity, not every vegetable and fruit is right for you. A nutritionist will tell you how you should have your meals. Suppose you should eat only grilled chicken with a plain salad. They may even tell you if you feel like eating out and what restaurant items should focus on.
Along with changing the food you eat, you will also need to cut back on portion size. It won’t help your case if you’re eating the same amount just in lettuce.
7. Help You Build a Support System
It would help if you didn’t have to deal with helping yourself get better alone. A sound support system can be a great source of motivation. Your friends or family can even help you with your diet by helping you make your food or take you out for walks. Getting your life on track is hard. There is a shame, sadness, and guilt. These three usually work in unison that makes one relapse.
Behavioral changes can help you deal with obesity. When you meet a counselor, you get professional guidance and learn how you can help yourself. A counselor will never give you unrealistic hope. They will ensure you know what you’re signing up for and when you will see changes. You may cut back on food, monitor your diet, and even have a proper exercise regime. A counselor may also help you learn if you are dealing with mental health issues contributing to your obesity. When you build a support system for yourself and get help, you will get better in no time.