Special Circumstances of Obesity – Habitual/Opportunistic

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Special Circumstances of Obesity – Habitual/Opportunistic

The hallmark of habitual/opportunistic eating is it’s subconscious, thoughtless almost automatic pattern of eating. This is the type of eating that occurs when you walk into the breakroom at work and grab a couple of candies from the bowl that’s always on the table. Or the type of eating that occurs while you are preparing the family’s meal, periodically snacking on components of its preparation. Or the kind of eating that occurs when you come home after work, open the cabinet and without the prompt of the need for “sustenance eating”, and take whatever is in your arms reach.

“Sustenance Eating” – sustenance eating refers to the consumption of food necessary to fuel the body and provide it with the required sustenance. Elements (such as vitamins, minerals, protein and fat) needed to optimal health. Sustenance eating should take place at predefined “feeding times”, a predetermined time set aside for eating (traditionally referred to as meals). All other eating falls into a different category such as: recreational, social, comfort, etc.)

This is not truly compulsive eating. It does not have an obsessive element that is preceded by perpetual thought of the food that you desire. This is more of a patterned behavior, such as sitting in front of the TV and grabbing some popcorn, or going to your son’s baseball practice, and grabbing an extra-large coffee with cream and sugar.

Since this type of eating occurs in an automatic, habitual manner, you cannot rely upon intellect or willpower to interrupt the pattern. The tripwires must be put in place before the moment of habitual eating occurs. You must create alterations in the routine in order to break the habit.

If your habit is to eat when you get home, reconsider your behavioral pathway. Perhaps going directly home from work is part of your problem. Stop by the gym, a church, or a park for a walk. When you do get home, ensure that your favorite impulse foods are no longer in stock

If your pattern is to snack when entering the break room, reconsider your destination. Take a walk around the parking lot, or have a prepared snack waiting in the break room that is safe for you to eat. Almost all of us have certain habitual patterns of consumption. Changing your body and improving your health requires corresponding changes in behavior.

Try to identify your habitual patterns of eating, then take up strategies to interrupt them. This type of eating typically does not enhance our life by adding a moment of joy, celebration or fellowship. You will find once it is successfully eliminated that you do not miss it at all.

Dr. Stephen Petteruti is board-certified in medical weight loss and family practice. He runs a Functional Medicine Center and has been practicing Medical Weight Loss for over 15 years. For more information about his center and weight loss program, please visit: https://www.im-120.com/Intellectual Medicine 120 is in Warwick, RI.

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