Obesity is a Serious Issue for Recovering Addicts
It is estimated that more than ten percent of the world’s population could be classified as obese. In most instances this weight gain is preventable if people just watched their diet and took regular exercises. Obesity can mean that people die at a younger age that would be expected. It can also mean that they do not get to fully enjoy their life while they are alive.
It is common for people who have given up an addiction to turn to food for comfort. This can mean that they begin to put on weight. If these individuals are unable to gain control over their comfort eating it will lead them into obesity. This can be almost as damaging to their life as their former alcohol or drug addiction. It is therefore crucial that people in recovery take obesity seriously and do what they can to prevent it.
People will often use the words overweight and obesity interchangeably, but they refer to slightly different things. To say that somebody is obese means that they have too much body fat. If somebody is overweight, it means that they weigh more than what is considered healthy for their height, but this could be because they have a lot of muscle or are retaining too much water. It is true that all obese people are overweight, but it is not true to say that all overweight people will be obese. Medically speaking obesity refers to a situation where people have accumulated so much body fat that it has become detrimental to their health.
It is possible to define obesity using the body mass index (BMI). This is a way to estimate body mass using an individual’s weight and height. An individual with a BMI of 25 to 30 would be considered overweight. Those who have a BMI of greater than 30 would be considered obese. The BMI is not an exact measurement, but it can be helpful when determining if somebody is overweight.
The Dangers of Obesity
If people carry around too much body fat it can be dangerous because:
* Obesity is the most preventable cause of death worldwide. Far more people die from being overweight than being underweight. If people wish to avoid an early death then they will need to avoid obesity.
* Obese people are far more likely to develop heart problems.
* People suffering from obesity are at increased risk of having a stroke (cardiovascular accident).
* The risk of certain cancers (such as breast and colon) increases if people are obese.
* Those individuals who are overweight may develop sleep apnea, in which their breathing temporarily stops while they are sleeping. This condition can mean that people fail to get a good night’s sleep.
* If people are excessively overweight, they may feel bad about themselves. This can lead to symptoms of depression.
* Those individuals who are obese are far more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
* Those people who are obese will usually have poor tolerance for physical activity. This means that they miss out on many enjoyable aspects of life.
* If people are carrying too much weight it puts added pressure on the skeleton. This may mean that they develop chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis.
Causes of Obesity
These are some of the leading causes of obesity:
* The number one cause of obesity is that people consume more calories than they actually need. If people eat food, and the energy from this is not used, it gets stored as fat. If the individual is constantly consuming more calories than they can burn, this will lead to obesity. One of the reasons why people eat too much is that they have become accustomed to large portions.
* Comfort eating is a real problem for many people. This occurs when the individual turns to food as a way to handle stress. People develop this habit in childhood when food is often used as a reward. The real problem is that the food that people tend to associate with comfort will be junk food and other high-calorie items. Comfort eating is sometimes classified as trying to eat away their emotions. Over the long-term, this is a flawed coping strategy.
* Drinking too much alcohol is another common cause for obesity. This is because these beverages contain empty calories, which is energy without nutritional value. If people drink a few beers along with their normal diet, their calorie intake will be excessively high. This is why an overweight stomach is referred to as a beer belly.
* Some individuals have physical conditions that mean they are more susceptible to gaining weight. Medical problems such as Cushing’s syndrome and hypothyroidism can be responsible for obesity.
* If people do not engage in physical activity they will be burning fewer calories. If somebody starts doing less, but keeps on eating the same amount, they will put on weight.
* As people get older they tend to put on weight more easily. This is because their digestive system works less well than when they were younger. It is also due to the fact that their metabolism has slowed down. This means that as people get older they usually have to work harder to keep their weight under control.
The Dangers of Obesity in Recovery
Obesity can be particularly dangerous for people in recovery because:
* Obesity can mean that the individual will not get the most out of their recovery. Because of this they may decide that staying sober is not worth the effort and so they relapse back to their addiction.
* People usually decide to become sober because they feel sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. Nobody gives up an addiction so that they can feel bad, but unless people bring their weight under control this is what can happen.
* In order to build a successful recovery the individual needs to be in good physical and mental shape. Obesity can hold them back and get in the way of fully enjoying sobriety.
* Obesity is often associated with low self-esteem. So is addiction. If the individual continues to suffer from low self-esteem, they can be more easily tempted back to alcohol and drugs.
How to Overcome Obesity in Recovery
These are some steps that can be taken to overcome a weight problem:
* People need to eat a healthy diet and reduce their calorie intake. A crash diet is not such a good option, because such weight loss is hardly every sustainable. It is better to make changes to the diet that the individual will feel happy to maintain indefinitely. Sometimes, it is easier to focus on making healthier food changes rather than putting too much attention on calorie restriction. Those who do want to focus on calorie restriction usually do not reduce their intake by more than 500 calories per day. Anything more than this should really involve medical assistance.
* Approaches such as mindful eating can work well as a lifelong approach to weight control. This is a meditation technique that changes the relationship that people have with their food. It completely revolutionizes meal times.
* Exercise is a vital component of weight loss and maintaining weight loss. It is important that people have realistic expectations for what sort of exercise is possible. Spending a few hours over the course of a week will burn a great deal of calories, but this alone will probably not be enough to resolve obesity. Changes also need to be made to diet. It is also recommended that those who are overweight go for a medical checkup before beginning an exercise regime.
* If people find that they are doing too much comfort eating, then they may need to consider developing more effective coping strategies available for dealing stress. Relaxation programs such as meditation, yoga or tai chi can be a wonderful alternative to food.
* If people are so obese that it is putting their health in real danger, it may be appropriate for them to begin taking special weight reduction medication. This type of drug can only be obtained on prescription and only if other natural methods of weight loss have been attempted. There is currently medication called Orlistat available that interferes with the body’s ability to absorb fat. This drug has a few unpleasant side effects.
* If people have a BMI of over 40 they may be a candidate for bariatric surgery. All other weight loss options will need to have been considered before taking such extreme measures. This type of operation can be highly successful, but like all other types of surgery there will be risks involved too.