Obesity in Families: Inherited, or Learned?
Are you overweight or even obese? Do you weigh more than is healthy? Before you can determine if you are in fact obese, it will help to define what exactly obesity is. According to webmd.com, obesity is a calculation of body weight and height.
For adults, experts usually define obesity based on body mass index, or BMI. This formula relates your weight to your height.
For instance, if two people weigh the same amount but one is taller than the other, the taller person will have a lower BMI. To find your body mass index, plug your height and weight into a BMI calculator.
If your BMI is:
- Below 18.5: underweight
- 18.5-24.9: normal
- 25-29.9: overweight
- 30 or higher: obese
Being overweight or obese increases health risks, including:
- Diminished reproductive function
- Impaired respiratory function
- Hormone imbalance
- Increase of chronic and debilitating diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer
- Mood and memory changes
In addition to posing serious health risks, being overweight or obese also may contribute to the following mental health difficulties:
- Lower confidence
- Poor self esteem
- Mood disorders
Do Family Habits Play a Part in Your Tendency to be Overweight?
If you’d like to change your eating and exercise habits to move away from your current overweight or obese state, one thing that may lend some initial insight is awareness. What in your life has shaped your current eating habits and exercise regimen or lack thereof? How much has family conditioning played a part in your relationship with food?
Here are a few ways that your weight problem may be the result of patterns that go back to childhood, and your family’s attitude and habits around food and eating.
Family’s tendency to use food as emotional consolation.
Many people emotional eat but never think to ponder why. Go back in your mind to your youth. What would Mom or Dad do when something upset you, when you got hurt, or when you were stressed about schoolwork or friends? How likely was your family to bring out cookies, go for ice cream, or otherwise smooth over stressful times with sweets or high calorie, high fat foods?
Family habits are hard-wired into our psyche whether we want to believe it or not. So if after a tough day at work, you’re likely to pull into the nearest drive through, or if you’re the one to drown your sorrows in a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, flash back to similar eating patterns you may have established from when you were small, based on your family and what they were inclined toward.
Family preference for high-fat, high carbohydrate, empty-calorie foods.
Another big factor in how you choose to feed your body as an adult has to do with the food choices your family made growing up. Were processed cheese foods, hot dogs, donuts, French fries and other fattening but empty calorie foods part of your daily menu? Maybe you grew up in a house where “vegetables” were limp, brownish-green colored, and heated up straight from the can. Or maybe your family had a nightly ritual of eating ice cream between the post-dinner and bed time hours.
Today, when you reach for that salad plate, do you hear your father’s voice, pooh-poohing vegetables and healthy foods? Believe it or not some families, especially of generations past, held negative attitudes around nourishing foods, as though they were something that only weak people would care about.
Family’s tendency to load up the plate.
Many people grew up with parents whose own parents were raised during the Great Depression era, when food was scarce. It has been ingrained in them that we must clear our plates, lest we waste good, nourishing food. Combine that habit that’s been passed down from generations with the American tendency to overdo portion sizes thanks to chain restaurants and gluttonous palates, and we can see how eating has gotten out of control; and with it, our weight.
There are ways to conserve food without putting pressure on our bodies to eat more than we need at any given time. Taking smaller portions is one way to start. Being mindful of actual hunger versus the need to have a certain taste in our mouth, or the addiction to having a very full belly and that drowsy, too-full feeling, is one way to move away from bad habits of the past.
Family celebrations and congratulations always centered around rich, decadent foods.
Over-indulging in rich foods is a practice of extravagance. In human history, the wealthy would splurge on a giant feast. Think of the Romans, consuming course after course until they reached their max and then indulged in a massive bulimic purge. Most people today, wealthy first-world countries in particular, still focus holiday and celebrations around copious amounts of food.
Did your family dish up hearty helpings of favorite foods as a way to celebrate, and congratulate, for various successes and achievements?
It is up to you to recognize the emotional eating patterns that you have developed over time. It’s also up to you to decide that you’d like to break those bad habits, and move on to a place where food isn’t used as a psychological band-aid, societal label, or emotional numbing device.
Once we identify where our family may have led us astray when it comes to nourishing our bodies, we can move forward to healthier and more sensible eating practices. The first step is awareness, so congratulations. If you now understand how strongly influenced you may have been by family with what, how much, and how often you ate, you’ll be able to make better decisions around food and daily nourishment.
The next step is to use hypnosis and NLP to “rewrite” those old unhelpful beliefs about the role of food in your life. By replacing them with healthy beliefs we can create a new, calmer more peaceful and healthy relationship with food for you! Learn more about hypnosis for weight loss elsewhere on my site!
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