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Weight Loss and Deprivation

Updated on August 15, 2010

We all know how to lose weight. We do. Really.

We all know that in order to lose weight, we need to stay away from all the comfort foods, the foods we really love:

  • Pies
  • Cakes
  • Cookies
  • Pizza
  • Cheeseburgers
  • Hot Cocoa
  • Beer
  • Wine
  • Scotch
  • Meatball subs
  • Tacos
  • Chocolates
  • Hostess Ho-Ho's

You get the idea...all that lovely greasy food that's bad for us. All those wonderful relaxing beverages that have enough calories to sink a ship. All that comforting sweetness...

We KNOW we have to eat less, and eat regular meals, and eat lean meat, and vegetables and fruit. We KNOW between-meal snacks are forbidden if we want to lose weight. No donuts at work, not anymore, we're ON A DIET!

We KNOW we should get more exercise; a half-hour or so of walking, using the StairMaster, whatever, every day.

We know this. We whine about how fat we are and our clothes don't fit. And we fall off our diets, our healthy improved lifestyle with diet and exercise, goes out the window, within a couple of days or a couple of weeks. We stop by MacDonald's after work and grab a Big Mac Meal; we sneak a beer from the hubby fridge in the garage...we give in one morning to those donuts at work.


Depression and Overwieght

Depression and overweight often go together, especially for women. I know I gain weight naturally when I'm unhappy; I lose weight when I'm happy. It makes sense to me that they should be: food is comforting. Food is nourishment; it's care-giving, life-giving. Food comes from your mother, first; food is mothering. If you are sad, you feel you need nurturing, you feel you need nourishment, you need often that comfort can be found in the refrigerator.

Obesity rates in the US are soaring. At the same time, the United States is undergoing an economic crisis of no mean proportions. It makes sense to me that we are all uneasy; we don't know what the future may bring. We are worried about money and jobs. And so we eat.

Are we storing up food, storing up calories, in an unconscious bid to preserve ourselves for an uncertain future?

From Psychology Today:

The link [between obesity and depression]could have to do with social factors or it could be neuroendocrine-related...

At the center of the link is biology, notably the hormonal pathway known as the HPA axis. It is the route of communication between the hypothalamus, the peanut-sized part of the brain that governs parts of the nervous system, and the pituitary and adrenal glands, which secrete a variety of hormones.

These three points of the axis work together to maintain chemical equilibrium when the body is under stress. The HPA axis is responsible for releasing cortisol, the "stress hormone". It plays a critical role in energy metabolism...cortisol prompts the body to deposit fat around the abdomen...Chronic stress also begets depression.

It's a combination of social and biological factors. There's an interaction between what's outside your body and what's inside..."

Emotional Deprivation

Food can also compensate for an emotional deprivation. The first person to recognize emotional deprivation as a neurosis was Dr. Anna A. Terruwe in the 1950's. She found that a person could exhibit symptoms of anxiety disorder (including obesity and overweight, chronic fatigue, and compulsive behaviors) when this wasn't the underlying cause, instead, the person had experienced a lack of unconditional love in their early life, and a lack of nuturing by their mothers.

A person could have been criticised excessively, or ignored, neglected and abused; or emotionally rejected by primary caregivers or parents in early life, resulting in the stunting of a person's emotional growth.

Sometimes I think it's a matter of degree. I don't think I'm neurotic. My weight is more or less under control for my height and age. But! I know I eat when I'm sad. I may be trying to make up for a lack of nuturing in early life, without realizing it. I fall off my diet when I'm sad, or anxious about something--I can't seem to help myself.

So I think an integral part of a successful diet is to carefully monitor your own emotions, and when the impulse comes to say, "Oh, the heck with it...I'm gonna go for it, I need something sweet (or crunchy or salty or greasy), and you're about to start out the door to run to the convenience store, because all the cupboards and refrigerator has nothing but (UGH!) DIET FOOD , and you need something good, NOW...


Check your emotional weather first.

Is it REALLY food you need?

If you discover it ISN'T food you really need, and it can't be real hunger that's driving you because you HAVE food; there's cabbage in the fridge, there's green beans, there's chicken breast...Melba toast...

You are REALLY deprived of something else..Those feelings of deprivation stem from something other than a lack of food or nutrition, and are expressed by a craving for a particular food that comforts you.

What you may REALLY need is to talk to someone. Someone that you can trust to share a bad mood or a problem with. Maybe you are feeling deprived...what exactly are you deprived OF? Warmth, comfort, nurturing? Reassurance?  The best thing is the thing itself and not a substitute. Find someone to give you a hug. Find someone to talk over what's bugging you. There may be a solution to a problem, or at least a release, an expression, of thoughts and feelings that might be badly needed.

If there doesn't happen to be anyone in your life that's that close to you or if your someone may be unavailable to you at this moment, here's some other things you can do that will help get you past the impulse:

  • Take a walk or find some other mild form of exercise. It releases endorphins and REALLY HELPS!
  • Do some household task that you've been putting off. The movement will do you good, and also the sense of accomplishment and having one thing done and off your brain.
  • Talk on the phone with a friend.
  • Write in a diary, to express how you're feeling...and what you crave, and why you SHOULD NOT give in to your impulse
  • Find a good movie, a great book...change the channel in your mind
  • You could even get on Hub Pages, write a hub about what you want, what you need, and how your diet is going, instead of dashing out to the store or visiting your secret stash of munchies that you sandbagged from before your diet.
  • Once you've mastered the quelling of that impulse to fall off your diet the first time, the second time this happens, it's easier to stay on your diet. You've found a pattern that works for you. And the third time, it's even easier yet, because you've also found a sense of accomplishment in doing this, in denying yourself the unhealthy comfort you crave, AND...

Best of all, your diet is WORKING! You've lost some weight that you wanted to lose. You know you are on the right path, and you know you can do it, you know you can reach your goal.


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    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      Very good comment, very good suggestion, thank you, izzytellsall.

    • izzytellsall profile image


      8 years ago

      This is a really thoughtful piece--your point about obesity rates and the economy especially stood out to me as it's something I've watched several people in my life struggle with (job loss and weight gain--which makes job hunting more uncomfortable because they feel even less like themselves)... A nationwide exercise challenge would do us all some good, I think--help us each feel more in control, and also like we'd done *something* that day to move the country forward, if only metaphorically by racking up a mile on foot through our neighborhood.

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thank you, breakfastpop, so much. I just read the "Mocha" hub of yours and liked it to pieces!

    • breakfastpop profile image


      9 years ago

      Great hub that comes in very handy right about now. Thanks for the great suggestions.

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thanks, BK!

    • BkCreative profile image


      9 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      I had so much fun reading the comments! And of course I enjoyed the hub. Lots of 'food for thought.' During the times in my life when I said "I will diet" immediately a certain depression set in. I think from the idea of deprivation - which seems to be what our diets are all about. Not eating healthy but counting calories and giving up this and that. So I gave it all up. And I don't have a weight issue.

      Nice, thoughtful hub to read through. Thanks so much!

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thanks so much for your comments, Advisor , HC and Carolina. Glad you liked this one.

    • carolina muscle profile image

      carolina muscle 

      9 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      This is a very interesting hub, thanks!!!

    • H.C Porter profile image


      9 years ago from Lone Star State

      Great Advice on this Hub. I never really thought too much about Depression and the possible link to weight, but it makes sense. Rated Up! Good Job!

    • advisor4qb profile image


      9 years ago from On New Footing

      good hub! I am trying to eat to live instead of living to eat. Tricky!

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Upstate New York

      Hang in there, Mike. I'm sure the warmer weather coming will help us all. I can't wait to get out and walk again, myself!

    • Mike Lickteig profile image

      Mike Lickteig 

      9 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

      My battle with weight is affected by a lot of different things. I am not really into sweets, but I do love other fattening foods. I will also eat when I'm depressed. I have been working out at the gym lately, but they closed the branch on my end of town, and a five minute round trip drive to the gym just became a 45 minute round trip drive, and I haven't made it nearly as often. I am apt to walk some when the weather is warmer--it was an awfully cold winter, though.

      But I'm trying to hang in there and keep the pounds off.


    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thanks, Apricot. Lovely COMMENT!

    • apricot profile image


      9 years ago from Italy

      Lovely, lovely hub! Aaagh, those donuts! I had difficulty moving on from that pic!! Your advice is very valid - taking a walk is excellent as is writing (as long as you're not stumbling across donut pics..!) I hope your emotional weather will be sunny, I really do! If not, well, there are always the donuts (I've got a great biscuit recipe that's good for diets if you want it...)


    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thank you so much for your comments, scarytaff and Pamela. I do know it is true--we eat for many reasons other than hunger. It isn't our tummies that need satisfying. I hope it does help people on their diets to examine the movitation for food cravings and overcome them.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      9 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Paradise, Emotional eating is a problem for most people that are overweight. I've done it and really try to be conscious if I am really hungry or not before I eat. Good hub.

    • scarytaff profile image

      Derek James 

      9 years ago from South Wales

      Compelling reading No.7 It's a continuing fight against the flab. I've been doing it for years, sometimes the weight is up, sometimes down. When it's down I feel marvellous. When it's up, I know I need to start on the down path again. Great hub!

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Upstate New York

      Hey, Alexandria, thanks for the comment!

    • alexandriaruthk profile image


      9 years ago from US

      deprivation indeed, I love the image you put here! good job, and the comfort foods, -- full of discomfort hehe! Thanks

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Upstate New York

      Cheap: Don't tell anyone, but my secret fantasies are ALL ABOUT ITALIAN GUYS! So as far as I'm concerned, you can eat as many meatball subs as your heart desires! FOMCL (fall off my chair laughing!)

      Dohn, thanks for the comment. You know, I thought I pretty much said what we all think and know somehow intuitively in the back of our heads. Those kind of thoughts need some air, sometimes.

      Micky Dee--you said it!

      Jen, Dear Jen...the meatball subs got the kewpie doll on this hub, didn't they? For some reason that was the trigger a lot of people can relate to, or were simply amused by. I repeat, I simply can't tell you how glad I am you're feeling better.

    • Jen's Solitude profile image

      Jen's Solitude 

      9 years ago from Delaware

      Truth be told Paradise, meatball subs are my favorite too. lol I prefer Subway's meatball subs the way my husband orders them and of course once I get their sub, I MUST have their chocolate chip cookies as well. I've got a long way to go, obviously, but I do find the less fatigued I am, the less I crave them all, which is good since my self-control needs to improve.

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 

      9 years ago

      Great advice. Starving- just eating bad choices.

    • dohn121 profile image


      9 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      You proposed a good solution to a recurring problem in many of us (and many more who are reluctant to admit it). Great job, Paradise7! You nailed this one.

    • cheaptrick profile image


      9 years ago from the bridge of sighs

      Hi,a P. As an Italian guy I have a problem...I'm not Allowed to give up"Meatball"subs or they'll take away my"I'm Italian"card!lol

      This Hub was well thought out and presented in a very motivating way.

      BTW did you know that Chess masters have been known to burn up to 6000 calories a day!That's some very Intense Thinking!


    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 

      9 years ago

      I'm not much of a sweets eater (just dark chocolate once a week) but those donuts do get the mind thinking!

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thanks, Green Lotus. I kinda wrote this as a contest hub but I think I might have missed the boat, here, Monday was weight loss and Tuesday was healthy diets...I dunno.

      Anyway, I DO know, a diet won't work for you unless you have a grip on why you crave the foods you do, and when.

      Good luck to you on your diet, and the more hubs from YOU, the better for us all!

    • Green Lotus profile image


      9 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Oh my. I'm actually on a diet now so I thought I'd check out your hub. It was very helpful once I got past the first intoxication photo! I like your suggestion list of things of helpful distractions. Thanks! I think I'll start a Hub and forgo the sweets.

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thank you for your comment, Veronica. I do know for a fact it isn't excessive hunger that drives overweight. That's why the experts say exercise and adequate hydration (drinking LOTS of water) are more key to losing weight than counting calories.

      It's what we do for comfort or to combat stress that makes us overweight. We confuse an appetite for comfort with an appetite for food.

    • Veronica Allen profile image

      Veronica Allen 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      You've addressed the often "hidden" reasons behind why we eat besides the hunger aspect so well Paradise7. I love that you gave us suggestions on how to combat and meet those problems head on as well.

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thank you so much, Jen, for stopping by and I AM SO GLAD, I can't tell you how glad I am, that you're feeling better. Yes, meatball subs. Don't ask me why. It isn't rich, fancy food that puts some extra weight on my body, it's cheap, greasy, food that I find irresistably delicious!

    • Jen's Solitude profile image

      Jen's Solitude 

      9 years ago from Delaware

      Paradise this is a terrific motivating hub! So many reasons we eat besides being hungry. "Meatball Subs" Really? lol Ok, I'll make the adjustment, although I am happy to report that now that I enjoy energy, I have lost weight to my doctor's delight and my surprise. Great hub!


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