chapter  15
12 Pages

Behavioral weight loss

WithErIn C. ACCUrSo AnD lISA SAnChEz-JohnSEn

I am 25 years old and, since I was 13 or 14, all of my doctors have said that I need to lose weight. I come from a traditional Mexican family and many of my family members and relatives are overweight, so I thought that was normal. I tried many diets, starting in early adolescence, but I always ended up gaining the weight back. Initially, I think I gained weight as a way to protect myself. My life has not been easy. I was sexually abused as a child, and men would always make sexual comments about my body. Those comments seemed to stop as I gained weight. It is also hard for me to lose weight because I love the taste of food, especially sweet and salty snacks! over time, I learned that food could be comforting. When I had a stressful day or felt depressed, fantasizing about what I would eat after work was helpful. And then, when I ate the food, I felt even happier and did not have to think about my problems. Things eventually got to the point where my eating felt completely out of control, and I couldn’t stop myself from eating my way through the entire pantry. When I was 17, Mom was cleaning my bedroom and found a food stash under my bed – a big box filled with bags of chicharrón (fried pork skin), candy bars, Mexican cookies, and all sorts of other junk food. It was obvious that some of the food had been eaten, because there was a whole pile of empty wrappers hidden under there too. When Mom asked me about this, I knew I could no longer hide my problem with overeating. I felt so ashamed and embarrassed. I still eat like that sometimes . . . mostly when I’m alone after I get home from work. like last month, I was kind of nervous about my first appointment here, so I drove through McDonald’s on my way home. I ordered my food and then parked in the empty corner of the parking lot so that no one could see me eating. I feel disgusted and ashamed of myself when I eat like this. My parents were born and raised in Mexico, and are very traditional in their values. They also believe that problems should be discussed in the

family, so I was surprised when Mom took me to see a psychologist. The doctor told me that I had this thing called Binge Eating Disorder. I didn’t get treatment at the time because I was too embarrassed to talk about my eating, but this time I really needed to take action. I had been gaining more weight and it scared me that I could lose control over my eating so easily. Through therapy, I am beginning to understand my emotional eating better and the difference between bingeing and overeating. With practice, I am gaining better control of my emotions, my eating, and my weight. I feel really motivated to get this under control and improve my overall health, for myself and for my family.