This blog began as a journal of a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travel Award visit to the USA to study how Lifestyle Redesign could be used in Occupational Therapy to improve the hospital/home interface for older people. It has continued to record developments and inspiration gained from that experience since returning from Los Angeles early in 2012.

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Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Emotional Eating and Balance

The last two Weight Management group sessions have covered emotional eating and life balance.
Chantelle gave the group a choice of which they wanted to do first and emotional eating was a clear favourite. From people's reactions it obviously struck a cord.
Emotional eating- any time you eat without being physically hungry.

A couple of questionnaires were handed round and everyone spent a few minutes filling them in. This helped to get people thinking before we discussed it. One was related to eating and behaviour- a sample question:
Q- You eat dessert or leftovers, even if you feel full after a meal-
a) rarely
b) sometimes, especially when you feel like you have to for social reasons
c) most of the time, just because you like the taste
d) usually, all the time, it is a habit

Another had questions about reasons for eating- a sample question:
 Q- I munch when I get bored         Tick Frequently/Occasionally/Rarely

These were not scored but used to get a discussion started, most people were happy to share some of their answers. Several commented that how they would answer now, 6 weeks into the programme, is different to how they would have answered before starting. This helped to demonstrate the changes they are making and was a source of encouragement- so reinforcing self-efficacy.
The discussion moved on to looking at the 'pay-off' for habits. These could be irrational rewards- telling yourself 'I deserve this', there could be social acceptance 'pay offs'- eating for social reasons or concern for what others might think; there are many other examples. The group worked individually on identifying a few of their own reasons for eating and the 'pay off', then we began looking at what other occupations or other non-food related activities could serve these 'pay offs'. For example, one group member reported eating to relax in the evening and planned to watch a DVD instead (without the popcorn!). This is an exercise that can be carried on and thought about over time.

The Balance session led on from this. We began the session by colouring in our own Balance Wheel- a simplified version of the one above- we included:
  • Productivity
  • Rest
  • Play
  • Self-Care
The results were discussed and people looked at which activities they felt they needed more or less of. Next we considered what activities and times of day we associate with eating. What times are easiest to make healthy choices and when are we most vulnerable to poor eating habits? We looked at the resources, whether financial, time, control or more personal resources such as physical or psychological aspects that can help or hinder the process of changing routines to incorporate health promoting activities.
The topics covered aim to help and support the group members in being able to look realistically and in depth at their usual routine and occupational choices and to make habit changes that will allow them to succeed in their goal to lose weight. Once again, this is part of the process of developing a sense of self-efficacy, one of the key outcomes of all Lifestyle Redesign programmes and essential to sustained success.

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