DIET & NUTRITION
I hold a Diet & Nutrition Practitioner Level 3 Diploma which I use to support my clients with their understanding of how diet and nutritional choices impact mind and body wellness. I pair this knowledge with a deep interest in addictive eating, emotional eating, and the neuroscience behind our relationship with food.
Obesity is an epidemic in the UK that not only destroys lives, but can be painfully interlinked with many other illnesses. In 2020 the NHS reported "11,117 hospital admissions directly attributed to obesity" with "the majority of adults" being obese, equating to "67% of men and 60% of women." There is an awfully prominent shame culture directed at individuals who struggle with obesity and other eating disorders, as if food addiction and emotional eating is the siloed fault of those that evidence it. This is absolutely not the case.
Western culture breeds addictive behaviour through relentless advertising, cross-selling and manufacturing (addictive ingredients). This attack-from-all-angles is designed to promote addictive relationships with many products for commercial gain, from food to alcohol, cigarettes and more. The attack artfully exploits, hijacks, and eventually warps the reward-seeking circuit that exists in the human brain, which is a very normal, healthy (when allowed to operate as it should) brain circuit we all possess for survival means. Individuals suffering from obesity have fallen short to this industrial attack. In others, alcoholism or smoking is the result.
The reasons some people become addicted to food and others to alcohol are embedded in all sorts of intricate environmental and biological vulnerabilities that science and psychology are still uncovering today. That said, what is known is that while extreme sufferers are victims of industry, biology and environment, addictive behaviour can be observed in a far greater number of individuals than the extreme. Do you need a coffee at the same time every morning before you feel grumpy? Do you enjoy a favourite chocolate at the same time each evening? Would you go out of your way to get these things if you ran out unexpectedly? The answer is likely yes to these questions in many of us, but we deem these behaviours as harmless when we are generally fit and healthy, and they are. But they are also signs of the same underlining behaviour that, when circumstances tip against you in terms of environmental and biological vulnerabilities, can lead to overconsumption. So, it is imperative that we show the same empathy and understanding to sufferers as we offer to those with other serious illnesses, instead of shaming them personally for the cause and social burden of this epidemic. Greater understanding and awareness of the true causes of the obesity epidemic can lead to industrial and social change.
Dr Uma Naidoo
Daniel Z. Lieberman, MD and Michael E Long