Change is a process, not an event

Many people with compulsive eating problems report feeling out of control of their bodies and ability to change. ne thing to consider is that change is not an event. It is a process that occurs over time, with many smaller or related changes happening along the way.

Q: Over the past couple of years, I have sought help with my overeating/compulsive eating problem. While I have made progress, from time to time, I fall back in to that old way of being, and I feel trapped again. Your June article was helpful, thank you. However, I wish I could understand more about why I haven’t changed completely yet. Why does it take so long? Sometimes I just want to go on a diet, so I can feel in control of my body again and happy with myself again.

A: Congratulations on the progress you have made so far! It’s good that you found something you needed in the June article on compulsive eating/binge eating. Many people with compulsive eating problems report feeling out of control of their bodies and ability to change. This sense of powerlessness is understandable and temporary for many people who are recovering from compulsive eating. One thing to consider is that change is not an event. It is a process that occurs over time, with many smaller or related changes happening along the way.

The urge to revert to dieting when not making quick progress is understandable, as many diets appear at first to offer quick success. But those who have tried dieting know the results (if any) are not long lasting, and sometimes worsen the problem (e. g., weight regain, increased negative sense of self).

One reason for this is that generally diets are aimed specifically at changing the appearance of the body, and reducing weight exclusively. The underlying root problems are overlooked.

In many people, dieting sets up a psychological and behavioural sequence of acting, thinking, and feeling that hinders rather than helps the desired change.

The process of changing generally is complex, particularly when it involves disordered/problem eating. This is because there are many variables that contribute to the problem (e.g., life circumstances, biological aspects, coping abilities/strategies, mood and emotional factors, trauma, grief).

Resolving these contributing factors helps many people return to a way of eating and relating to food that, results in weight loss over time.

Research shows that there are six stages involved in the process of changing. For instance, in the second stage people seek and consider information about the problem and desired change, and may feel more distressed and confused as they consider whether to take action.

The fifth stage is very challenging for many people. It involves maintaining the positive changes through stressful times, and overcoming urges to use food to cope.  With perseverance and practice of new ways of being and thinking, movement towards the desired change is likely to continue.

The timing of change (when initiated, duration, frequency of moving back and forth through stages) is somewhat unique to the individual and the involved circumstances. Movement through the stages is not linear; people move back and forth as their readiness to change shifts (increases or decreases). Readiness for change and movement through the stages, is, influenced by the importance of the change and level of self-confidence in the ability to change. Individuals may go through each stage several times before progress is long lasting, and the new behaviour and way of thinking feels normal/second nature.

There are some important aspects that may help with successful change and recovery from compulsive eating. Become more knowledgeable about the problem.

Identify the pros and cons of changing (e.g., lifestyle and health benefits). Identify the challenges that may hinder change and strategies to overcome these potential obstacles.

Create small, attainable, and measurable change related goals. Recruit people who will support you through the process.

Be realistic.

Remember that if this has been a long-term problem, change will likely be longer rather than quicker. However, some change (related to the overall change goal) will likely occur in the short term.

Recognize and celebrate successes (the change efforts and results) along the way!  This will help encourage you to keep moving forward towards your desired overall change goal(s).

The decision to make the personal and life changes involved in overcoming compulsive eating problems is great. When considering significant dietary, activity and related behavioural changes it is important to first consult your physician to discuss any related medical considerations.

If you are not ready to be free of compulsive/overeating, wonder if you are ready, or shift from ready to not ready, a knowledgeable counsellor may be able to assist you to further explore your needs and circumstances. Counselling may be right for you also if you have been in the process of changing for some time, and are in need of specific support with maintaining your change.

For counselling/therapy with overeating/compulsive eating problems please contact the writer at Pacific Therapy and Consulting.

If you would like to ask a question of the counsellors, for a response in future columns, e-mail them at askpacific@shaw.ca. Consult a Counsellor is provided by the registered clinical counsellors at Pacific Therapy & Consulting: Nancy Bock, Diane Davies, Leslie Wells, Andrew Lochhead and Karen Turner. It appears every second Friday.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The development permit application is for the back of a property at 2522 Dunsmuir Ave. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Privacy, heritage reasons for secondary house denial in Cumberland

Majority of council wants to see something more in line with Camp Road’s character

Local governments such as Cumberland’s are calling for Ottawa to treat opioids as a public health crisis. (Black Press file photo)
Cumberland councillor motivated by family member’s drug death

Council supports resolution for Ottawa to treat narcotics as public health emergency

Comox Valley Nature hosts an online lecture Sunday, April 18, to address the human and scientific perspective on climate change. Photo supplied
Upcoming Comox Valley Nature webinar addresses climate change

Comox Valley Nature hosts an online lecture Sunday, April 18, when Dr.… Continue reading

30 years after becoming part of the YANA family, Angela Furlotte is all grown up and enjoys her three dogs while working and living in the Comox Valley.
YANA founder helps family in need: a historical account

Andrea Postal Special to The Record The first few months of Angela… Continue reading

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply on 5th anniversary of overdose emergency declaration

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

An AAP will be used to determine if rural residents in the CVRD want a roadside garbage/recycling collection service. File photo
Roadside waste collection proposed in rural areas of Comox Valley

Pending results of the upcoming Alternate Approval Process (AAP), a rural roadside… Continue reading

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 1, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps to 1,168 Wednesday, nearly 400 in hospital

Now 120 coronavirus patients in intensive care, six more deaths

Moss covered branches are seen in the Avatar Old Growth Forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. blockades aimed at protecting old-growth forests reveal First Nation split

Two Pacheedaht chiefs say they’re ‘concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities’ in the territory

Richmond RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng said, in March, the force received a stand-out number of seven reports of incidents that appeared to have “racial undertones.” (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
‘Racially motivated’ incidents on the rise in B.C’s 4th largest city: police

Three incidents in Richmond are currently being invested as hate crimes, says RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng

Most Read