Psychology is the Missing Ingredient in Treating Type 2 Diabetes
Posted Oct 01 2012 11:05am
Type 2 diabetes is now a worldwide epidemic with 346 million people living with the condition (Source: World Health Organization). While health educators across the world are treating the clinical symptoms of this disease, only few address the psychological factors. “Current treatment plans tend to focus on cutting calories and increasing exercise, yet for every overweight person with diabetes who can implement this advice, there are many who struggle” says Dr Jen Nash, a Clinical Psychologist who also has personal experience of Type 2 diabetes. “When a patient falls off a treatment plan like this, it can lead to a sense of failure, hopelessness and lack of motivation to lose the weight required for optimal health.”
“The explosion of campaigns along with rising obesity levels over the last decade demonstrates that making healthy food choices isn’t as simple as just knowing what we should be doing”. Traditional weight loss plans treat food as a fuel, rather than acknowledging that it can be used for pleasure, distraction and entertainment. Many people engage in thinking styles that encourage an ‘all-or-nothing’ approach to weight loss, sabotaging long-term progress.
“People with type 2 diabetes are rarely given any education concerning the emotional and psychological aspects of eating behavior. Understanding that there are psychological strategies that are simple to apply in daily life can provide a breakthrough in a person’s relationship with food. This can lead to the weight loss results they want and need for their ideal health.”
Here are some top tips recommended by Dr Jen:
Before you eat today, stop and think: “Is this really what I want?” Whatever the answer, pausing and asking yourself this question allows you to create a space between the usual impulse to eat and the actual act of eating.
Try and get in touch with which emotion you are feeling as you reach for the food. It may be positive or negative. Start by labeling it: is it anger, sadness, fury, excitement, hurt, disappointment, excitement, sadness, triumph, boredom, loneliness, shyness, feeling unattractive or not good or enough?
You might like to say to yourself, “I am…..” and fill in the blank. For example: “I am [insert emotion] at [insert situation/person/trigger for emotion] because [insert reason]”
If you are feeling a strong emotion – think about how you can express it, rather than dull it with food. You could punch a pillow, talk to someone, have a cry, write a letter or email (even if you don’t send it)?
Make a list of a range of distracting activities to try before you default to the familiar pattern of reaching for food – stroke your pet, investigate something fun on the internet, research a day out with the family, do a Sudoku puzzle, paint your nails, engage in a hobby, have a nap…..
Make changes to your environment to support you. You might like to leave a post-it note on the fridge or cupboard door with a helpful question like, ‘Is the answer in here?’ or ‘What else will make me feel good?’
Diabetes patients looking for help with weight loss may find the ‘Diabetes Weight Loss Breakthrough System’, devised by Dr Jen Nash helpful. The online program that can be used at home educates patients about the psychological reasons for overeating and gives strategies to gain control over eating behavior, aiding participants to achieve their weight loss goals. Get your copy of a free video class with weight loss tips here:
About the Author Dr Jen Nash is a clinical psychologist, Chartered with the British Psychological Society, who has been living with diabetes since childhood. Having struggled and overcome her own battle with eating issues, in 2009 she founded ‘Positive Diabetes’, an international therapy, education and training service to promote the psychological well-being of people living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. She is a keynote speaker for national diabetes charities, a trainer for NHS professionals, consultant to leading diabetes pharmaceutical companies, author of ‘Diabetes and Wellbeing’ (Wiley-Blackwell, forthcoming in February 2013) and co-author of ‘’ (PHC Publishing, 2011). For further information, visit www.DiabetesWeightLoss.co.uk
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