Mindfulness and Obesity

Often, overeaters admit to not even realizing that they are snacking. There are two pragmatic solutions. One is to keep snackable items in a location that can only be accessed with difficulty, like in the basement or up on the highest shelf. Another is to not even bring these tempting pseudo-foods into one’s living quarters in the first place.

At its most basic level, mindfulness is asking the question, “What am I doing right now?” and being aware of the true answer. It would seem that developing a rudimentary degree of awareness should be possible — enough of it, anyway, for enlightenment to dawn and allow the person to acknowledge that she or he is currently eating. There are probably people who can follow that up by asking themselves, “When I catch myself eating between meals, what is the best thing to do?,” and who can then stop.

Dr. Pretlow points out a quandary: When emotional eaters realize what they are doing, they still are not able to stop. In the moment, the consequences of emotional eating are overwhelmed by the emotional urgency to either pursue pleasure or, more likely, to escape from pain.

Yet, mindfulness is widely recommended, so it might be useful to learn more. Two months ago Dr. Pretlow said:

Our current 4th study has provided a unique glimpse into the minds of obese young people and why they struggle to resist overeating and the forces/feelings that they say drive them to overeat, including the following:

1) continual thoughts of food that they can’t shake (like a thought form)
2) a coping mechanism for stress relief or comfort
3) pleasure and missing out if they don’t eat the food
4) playing tug of war with the mind — constant decision-making, over giving in or not
5) boredom, feeling alone, having nothing to do, a void (eating to relieve this)

Many more in our 4th study have been able to rise above these forces and lose substantial weight. We still haven’t figured out why some are able to rise above these forces while others are not.

The alert reader will have noticed that everything on that list originates in the mind, and here is an interesting idea that Childhood Obesity News neither endorses nor condemns. In discussing motivation, we mentioned kinesiologist and functional diagnostic nutritionist Sean Croxton.

One of his current projects is a podcast, “The Sessions.” As a guest on someone else’s podcast, he talked about graduating from college with all the knowledge of health and fitness that he would ever need — or so it seemed.

But reality intervened, and Croxton saw that he was charging people for advice that didn’t work for them. As a results-oriented trainer, he could not accept this, and began to educate himself from primary sources.

One thing he found among his clients was a widespread underlying issue called self-sabotage. It wasn’t going to matter much what people ate, or what else they did with their time, if they also insisted on shooting themselves in the foot. This series of excerpts describes the problem as he perceived it, and his solution:

I feel like some people need to do some work on the inside before we can really focus on their physical nature…

Mindset is huge. If your mind is not right, then you should probably get it right or go get yourself a new goal.

The subconscious mind is not in line with the conscious mind, then you’re always going to have that self-sabotage issue no matter what you do.

I took my butt over to hypnotherapy… and wrote a book.

I do recommend that some people go get hypnotherapy if they really have a hard time with self sabotage.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “The Dark Side of Fat Loss with Sean Croxton,” BulletproofExec.com, undated
Photo credit: ilovememphis via Visualhunt/CC BY-ND

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Profiles: Kids Struggling with Weight

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The Book

OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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