What is Weight Loss Counseling?
Weight loss counseling is a form of talk therapy where an individual affected with obesity or weight gain meets with a dietitian or a weight loss therapist to talk about issues and problems that they are facing in relation to weight loss. Weight loss counseling can provide individuals with the opportunity to share their views, be heard, and gain new perspectives on their situations and experiences. Counseling can assist individuals in gaining clarity surrounding weight loss issues. Together with their counselor, individuals identify and work towards achieving the desired outcomes and goals for counseling. Weight loss counseling helps you to make positive changes to your eating habits and behaviors, assists you with developing considerable emotional capacity, and is a space where you can build confidence and self-esteem as you develop a healthy relationship with food and your body.
What is Obesity?
Obesity is a major cause of death as well as several serious health conditions including chronic heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. It is caused by an increased intake of high-fat, high-sugar foods, and a sedentary lifestyle. Overweight and obesity are the fifth leading risk for global deaths. About 2.8 million people die every year due to health problems associated with being obese or overweight. Obesity has a significant impact on physical and mental health as well as quality of life.
Who is a Suitable Candidate for Weight Loss Counseling?
Anyone who is overweight/obese and has a high body mass index is a suitable candidate for weight loss counseling treatment. In some instances, diabetics or people with high blood pressure may also be suitable for this treatment.
How Does Counseling Help You Lose Weight?
Weight loss counseling is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is a method of psychotherapy employed to treat a host of issues. CBT helps individuals increase awareness to, and in time change and challenge, the negative thoughts (or cognitions) that often drive “unhealthy” behaviors. CBT can also assist individuals in getting to the fundamental of the problem, as the relationship with food is often just the symptom of a deeper issue.
Of late, the medical and scientific communities have begun to credit weight loss counseling for weight loss benefits. Many studies have detailed the effectiveness of weight loss counseling as a supplement to a standard diet and exercise program. The studies have manifested that individuals utilizing weight loss counseling in addition to exercise and diet exhibited more substantial and long-lasting changes to their overall body composition than those that utilized just exercise and diet, or just weight loss counseling.
What are the Methods Involved in Weight Loss Counseling Treatment?
During your initial meeting with a weight loss therapist or dietitian, they will likely perform an assessment. An assessment is usually comprised of questions on your physical and mental health history, lifestyle choices, and relationship to food. Your physical measurements such as height, waist circumference, and weight will be considered. Once this is completed, the dietitian will ask questions about your lifestyle to assess your activity level. Depending on your activity level, your therapist will plan a diet regimen. The diet plan will include a list of recommended foods. You will also be informed about the meal timings and what to include in each of the meals.
Long-term objectives or goals for weight loss and exercise/food will also be established in the initial session. During subsequent meetings, the long-term objectives will be broken down into smaller steps to form a kind of action plan as to how the objectives will be accomplished. Through a series of lifestyle changes including meal planning (which is specifically tailored to the individuals and their specific goals), and following an exercise program, weight loss can be accomplished.
In addition to lifestyle changes, working with a weight loss therapist can help increase one’s understanding of their relationship to food and find out any underlying problems that may be contributing to overeating, weight gain, negative body image, etc. Although all weight loss therapists follow their own approach as part of weight loss counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy for weight loss usually involves one or many of the following strategies or approaches:
- Goal setting
- Feedback and reinforcement
- Increasing personal motivation and belief in self
Upon accomplishing weight loss/body composition objectives, your weight loss therapist may continue to guide you on healthy lifestyle choices, and tools and skills to help with maintenance.
Benefits of Weight Loss Counseling
Some of the benefits of weight loss counseling include:
- Helps you identify and build strong, positive motivation
- Helps you put knowledge of weight management into practice
- Helps you find the blocks and obstacles you face
- Helps you recognize emotions that can set off overeating or emotional eating and manage them in healthy ways
- Helps you adopt positive eating habits
- Helps you find the pitfalls in thinking that can wreck your plan
- Helps to improve your self-image and body image
- Helps you negotiate other issues that may divert you from setting a weight-management plan into action