Psychiatrist Dr. Rehab Naguib Looks at the Major Stumbling Blocks
Pretty much everyone can relate to weight issues, from the simple kind to the severe.
Why do we eat? Well, reasons are many. Important to note however, is that food stimulates some brain areas to secrete the pleasure neurotransmitter that elevates our mood and increase our sense of achievement. We also tend to subconsciously associate some foods with emotions and/or places, which can eventually condition our brain to be triggered to want certain foods at certain times.
A very good example of food conditioning is “Ramadan”, as we change our daily habits to include an increased amount of food consumption, resulting in weight gain rather than the logical weight loss after a month of fasting.
Cairo West Magazine chatted with Dr. Rehab Naguib to learn more about how to keep our weight in–check during this season of over-eating and over-indulging.
CWM: What mistakes do people commonly make when trying to lose extra kilos?
Dr. RN: Usually people put a short term plan and construct a limited duration target, like “I want to lose the extra 10 kg”, or “I want to lose weight before attending a special event. when the target is reached the motivation to keep on dieting is usually lost. Eventually, eating right should be a lifelong decision, aimed at changing my approach towards food and not only to lose weight, and this is the cornerstone of sustainability after losing some weight.
Also most people label the diet process as boring and depressing, which makes them count the days until the end of this stressful activity.
Which diet plans have given the best results?
Usually it is not about the type of diet, it is about the decision to change. From the psychiatric point of view it is about how to build motives to change and how to train your brain to respond to the cues and triggers of food that can lead to a relapse during any type of diet.
Should diets be tailored to each individual lifestyle, age group, or gender?
Yes of course as there is no particular type of diet that suits everyone. A diet should be tailored according to age, gender, race, type of activities done at daytime, history of diet before and should also take into account some measurements like body-fat, muscle and water content in the body
Is there a particular age when weight will creep on and be harder to lose?
Well, this is hard to predict if that will happen to each of us or not, yet, usually aging slows down losing weight, it affects our metabolism, also some hormonal changes can lead to the same effect, as during menopause in females
So the younger the age when starting a healthy lifestyle, the better the results that will be obtained. Meanwhile, it is easy to practice the change when we are younger as we can accept some failures and redirect ourselves again.
What steps can we take to stop this happening?
Well, we have to start as soon as we feel the problem at an early age as much as we can. Avoid multiple relapses, build a strong support system and ongoing motives, redirect your plan regularly according to each situation and any life change happens.
Another important issue is to evaluate our work, regular evaluation aids us to predict negatives and overcome it later on.
What are your five top tips for keeping an optimum weight and staying healthy?
- A lifelong strong decision to change to a healthy lifestyle
- Putting attractive motives which are personal and chronic that aid people to overcome triggers to relapse
- Make it lapse not a relapse, reward yourself regularly
- It is not about losing weight, it is about living healthy
- Think before you eat, and ask yourself do I need the “happiness” this meal will bring me for the next half an hour, or do I need a lifelong achievement
Which is more effective for losing weight? Diet or exercise?
Of course both of them, the hallmark of the healthy lifestyle is eating a low caloric diet, small frequent meals, and doing regular exercise to obtain the best results. We can lose fat from controlling our diet, but the only way to gain muscle and attain a good shape is by exercise.
Are there certain therapies that can be effective in dealing with eating triggers?
Cognitive behavioral therapy is an effective therapy to help people deal with triggers, as food is an addictive substance just like alcohol and drugs. So far, “food addiction” is not categorized as a disease, but it will be identified as a disorder or a disease in the few coming years, so the aim of the therapy here is to construct a new lifestyle and help the person to acquire new skills for dealing with craving food and triggers for relapse. Also, other therapies like anger management, dealing with impulsivity, communication skills, and motivational therapy can help individually according to each one special problems in dealing with life stressors and how to cope with them.
Finally, obesity is a complicated disorder, and needs a multidisciplinary team to deal with; it is not about losing weight only, but also about dealing with the factors for gaining this weight and how to manipulate triggers and cues to guarantee optimum results.
Dr. Rehab Naguib
Lecturer of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, Ain Shams University
Consultant at AlMashfa Hospital
Master Degree of Neuropsychiatry