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Dieting & exercise

Would psychotherapy help?

(31 Posts)
bytheway Mon 07-Aug-23 16:19:47

In the last 15 years I have yo-yo-ed from 11 to 16 stone, mainly at the upper end.

I have very low self esteem, blame myself for everything bad that happens in my life, try to keep everyone happy etc…find it difficult to talk about it to people as I have a small social circle and don’t want to burden them with my problems.

After I retired in 2021 I managed to go from 14.5 to 12 stone. I think mainly as I had finished work ( which I had always found stressful) and joined a gym which I’m now fed up of.

This year I have regained 1.5 stone, I’m sure it’s because I’m dealing with a very sick parent and some very judgemental siblings as well as dealing with an imminent house move.

I’ve tried every diet under the sun but any sign of anxiety and I am straight in the chocolate box to dampen down those feelings.

This morning I have been researching Ozempic, the new weight loss drug and after telling DH I was doing this he begged me not to as ‘you’ll only end up disappointed again’

So now I am thinking maybe counselling or psychotherapy to get to the bottom of this?
Has anyone tried this? Can anyone give me advice or opinions?

eddiecat78 Mon 07-Aug-23 16:35:55

That sounds very sensible to me. My experience is with my daughter rather than myself. She is definitely a comfort eater. She even had a gastric band a few years ago but that failed - even with a gastric band you can eat a lot of ice-cream if you are miserable!

cornergran Mon 07-Aug-23 16:47:08

In my view it can never hurt to understand the ‘why’ of things. Some time to unpick underlying issues could help in all sorts of ways. If you seek therapy please work with some who not has experience of clients with low self esteem and comfort eating but also holds an accreditation with a professional body such as BACP. There are too many folk out there calling themselves counsellors who aren’t professionally qualified. Wishing you well.

Georgesgran Mon 07-Aug-23 16:59:26

I think Noom is an eating plan that attempts to analyze why their subscribers are overweight and tries to factor those reasons into the individual plan.
It would be interesting to hear how you get on bytheway.

wildswan16 Mon 07-Aug-23 17:02:53

A good (BACP) counsellor may well be able to help. But even that is quite hard work - you may find you feel worse before you feel better. But I do think it is worth trying.

Losing your excess weight will be good for your health - but is not a miracle cure to how you feel about yourself. That takes a bit of investigation with a professional. The two things may well go hand in hand.

In the meantime make sure your fridge and cupboards are full of fresh food. The easiest way not to eat biscuits is to walk past them in the supermarket. If they aren't available in the kitchen you can't eat them. I hope your husband is willing to help with this.

Family difficulties are always with us - counselling may help you to put these into perspective also. Also be aware that it is not cheap - so you have to be prepared for that and to put the work in.

Germanshepherdsmum Mon 07-Aug-23 20:55:53

As wildswan says, can you just not buy the chocolate and other things you binge on? They’re only available because you choose to buy them.

Calipso Mon 07-Aug-23 21:22:58

You don't need psychotherapy.

Take a look at Chris Van Tulleken's book "Ultra-Processed People: Why Do We All Eat Stuff That Isn’t Food … and Why Can’t We Stop?" It's absolutely fascinating , I downloaded a sample on my Kindle and immediately bought the whole thing. Also worth taking a look at is Jason Fung's "Fat Fiction" (YouTube I think) which outlines how most of the advice we've ever been given about losing weight is total rubbish. It's such an eye opener. We don't have increasing levels of obesity because people suddenly have no willpower, its because so much stuff that's peddled in the supermarket as food isn't actually food.

Wyllow3 Mon 07-Aug-23 21:37:39


In my view it can never hurt to understand the ‘why’ of things. Some time to unpick underlying issues could help in all sorts of ways. If you seek therapy please work with some who not has experience of clients with low self esteem and comfort eating but also holds an accreditation with a professional body such as BACP. There are too many folk out there calling themselves counsellors who aren’t professionally qualified. Wishing you well.


Bear in mind that there are different kinds of counselling and psychotherapy.

If you aren't familiar with these start here

Very much what Cornergran says.

You might want to focus on food self esteem comfort eating only or the more"digging deep opening personal Pandoras box" to work on family stuff

And you can always go for an initial session to see if you "click and feel comfy with a counsellor or therapist as that usually makes it more effective.

ClareAB Mon 07-Aug-23 23:19:11

I get it. At 57 my weight had yo-yo'd between 14-18 stone for 30 years. I tried every slimming club and succeeded in losing a few stone only for it to creep back on, and some over the next couple of years.
As a MH professional, I know that many weight problems are rooted in psychological issues and it is important to try to identify and manage those issues for your own mental well being never mind the extra weight, but that is a very reductionist view as is the 'eat less, move more' mantra.
After reading Jenni Murry's book 'Fat Cow' where after a lifetime of battling weight issues, she decided on a gastric sleeve. It's an interesting read.
I read around the issues with weight control and was shocked about a couple of things.
Firstly, there is a 95% residivision rate in people who lose weight, plus they tend to put more on.
Secondly the hormone Ghrelin which is produced mainly in the stomach increases after dieting telling you are hungry because they want you to get back to the weight you were before dieting. So, you are literally fighting with your body all the time to try and maintain the weight loss.
Gastric bypass surgery is considered the gold standard of bariatric surgery, and people who have the surgery are found to have lower ghrelin levels than those who lose weight by diet and exercise.
I bit the bullet and had the bypass in March this year. It has been life-changing. It's not an easy step to take, but putting on a size 14 (US 10) jeans on, and not feeling like the fattest person in the room has been a revelation. Good luck.

ClareAB Mon 07-Aug-23 23:23:08

Ps. Losing the weight, and having counselling has elevated my self-esteem to the point were eating my emotions is no longer necessary.
Plus, to be honest, even if I want to binge, physically I can't, so that also helps.

Hetty58 Mon 07-Aug-23 23:55:38

bytheway, do whatever you feel might help you be happier. Personally, though, I'd seriously question why you feel such a failure. Why is that? Ok, you are overweight. It's not a hanging crime.

You can simply choose to accept yourself just as you are. If I had a sick parent, judgemental siblings and an imminent house move on the horizon - I'd be diving into the chocolates too!

These days, I'm relaxed and laid back. Food is to be enjoyed - 'good' and 'bad'. It's only by sheer luck, genetics (and probably a vegan diet) that I'm not overweight.

My siblings are miserable, small minded, mean spirited, self-obsessed souls - plagued by health anxiety and insecurity. I only tolerate them as they are my siblings. They'll worry themselves to death as I enjoy my later years, it's such a crying shame.

bytheway Tue 08-Aug-23 07:37:38

Thanks for all your helpful advice.

Calipso- I am currently reading Ultra Processed People, thing is (chocolate and cake aside) I cook everything from scratch so eating supermarket processed food is not something I do but am finding the book very interesting

ClareAB - I have a friend who had a gastric sleeve last year and has lost a tremendous amount of weight, every time I see her now I she appears vulnerable to me, probably because she is smaller and still eating very little. I’m not sure that’s a route I want to go down.

I had a chat with DH last night about my feelings and he said if I want to try Ozempic I should go ahead but in the meantime I have read a lot about the side effects which has rather put me off. He has also encouraged me down the psychotherapy route.

EmilyHarburn Tue 08-Aug-23 11:33:40

Reading this article may help you with your decision making.

Philippa111 Tue 08-Aug-23 11:34:31

Its very difficult I know. Lots of people struggle with this, especially women. There is a 12 step programme for compulsive overeating. It's a difficult thing to overcome/stop alone. You said you were a 'people pleaser' and very down on yourself. That would be a good place to start. Thoughts can hold a lot of power over us and there are lots of ways of changing our thoughts.Meditation can help. I think therapy would definitely help you understand the thoughts ,feelings and behaviours that lead you to compulsive eating.

Eating is an easy way to avoid difficult or painful feelings but as with anything we do to excess it can come back at us and be worse that the thing we were avoiding to begin with. It can become a habitual go to place in moments of stress. Be very gentle with yourself as you find your way out of this. Speak to people, get help. Good luck and lots of hugs.... and well done for reaching out.

Daisydaisydaisy Tue 08-Aug-23 11:36:17

Hi there
I haven’t gone been through this but yes do have some help …You are important and you should enjoy life .Do let us know how You get on🙂🩵

albertina Tue 08-Aug-23 11:47:03

I have had lots of help with my mental health. I still struggle and fall into the dark pit, but the good thing about getting help is you can give you markers to leave on that fall. The markers help you climb back up again.

A good psychotherapist will help you create the words to put on those markers that are specific to you.

One piece of advice re seeking help,as has been mentioned here, make sure your therapist is fully qualified. If that person doesn't suit you, leave and find someone who does.

Re the weight. That's also something I struggle with but don't feel it's right to give advice as it is such a very personal thing. I wish you well for the future. I believe it's never too late to help yourself have a happier life.

LJP1 Tue 08-Aug-23 12:01:38

If you want to lose weight just replace the wheat, (bread, pastry, biscuits) & sweets with fruit and vegetables, any you like and as varied as possible. You will lose weight and feel healthier.

The ideal number of different fruits and vegetables a week is 30! But it does include whole grains (oats, barley, millet, etc.), nuts, garlic, etc which are normally eaten in small quantities and often you don't notice how many different ones you have eaten.

Try it! Good luck! flowers.

Davida1968 Tue 08-Aug-23 12:15:13

I've just put my name down to reserve a copy of "Utra Processed People" from my local library - there are 91 applications ahead of me, seeking to reserve this book! I think this shows just what a significant issue this is....

Childofthe60s Tue 08-Aug-23 12:19:23

Until very recently I was on Ozempic, which had helped me lose a considerable amount of weight, when nothing else had. I would have definitely recommended it, however it's not available at the present time. I received it via the NHS as I'm diabetic, but it has been overprescribed worldwide to non diabetics, purely for weight loss purposes.

Once the stock issue has resolved, potentially next year, I would give it a try. My depression and anxiety wasn't really being dealt with adequately by antidepressants, until the weight loss really kicked in. It's amazing how much my self confidence improved and the the negative thoughts receded as the weight dropped. I've still a long way to go, and without the thing which helped me get where I am, but I'm determined to keep going. A year ago that determination wouldn't have been possible.

ElaineRI55 Tue 08-Aug-23 12:26:43

I think professional counseling can be extremely helpful. With difficult siblings and struggling with your self-esteem, I think you would definitely find it beneficial.
Getting insight into what you're feeling and strategies for coping with the pressures you're under could even help significantly with your weight problems without even addressing that directly with the counselor. Having said that, I'm sure they will also offer strategies for dealing with your struggles to maintain your weight at a level you're happy with.
In the UK, it's something we maybe don't tap into enough and some people may still think it's a sign of weakness to seek support. To recognise your struggles and look for help is both wise and an indication of your strength of purpose. That is very far from the truth though. I was helped greatly to see the truth about what was going on in my workplace and to make the (correct) decision to leave. Two of my family members have been greatly helped by counseling. An close in-law is a counselor and one of my children is considering training as a fully qualified counsellor as that aspect of his current job is what he enjoys most. All the best.

ElaineRI55 Tue 08-Aug-23 12:31:07

"That is very far from the truth" should have been a sentence earlier- sorry🙄

Meta Tue 08-Aug-23 13:24:17

bytheway I feel your pain as you could have been me. The only thing that worked for me, after trying all sorts of diets and slimming groups, was Bright Line Eating. I read about it on here- out of curiosity I bought the book which is written by a neuroscientist, but very easy to read, and was just blown away by the science.
I started it just over three years ago and have been keeping off eight and a half stone for over two years. It has been life changing for me. There’s a website if you’re interested.

Chaitriona Tue 08-Aug-23 13:32:51

I have been doing Noom and so has my daughter. I would recommend it. It has lots of psychological help and also you get guides who are employed by Noom and whom you can message for support.

cc Tue 08-Aug-23 15:10:38


I think Noom is an eating plan that attempts to analyze why their subscribers are overweight and tries to factor those reasons into the individual plan.
It would be interesting to hear how you get on bytheway.

I did try Noom for a few months. They send you encouraging messages to put you on the right track, telling you why you do what you do. It is quite interesting and there are real people to email if you need help.
I actually found MyFitnessPal was better, it's basically calorie counting but looks at the proportions of protein, carbohydrate, fibre and fats that you are eating. It's initially quite long-winded to use as you have to enter everything you eat, but most of us repeat what we eat fairly regularly so you can enter a whole meal in one go once it is set up.
When you've been using it for a while you can work out which foods are the best for you, keeping you full but limiting calories. It's very useful to give you an idea of portion control.

Brigidsdaughter Tue 08-Aug-23 15:46:35

Childofthe60sI heard about the shortages at my recent private Endo appointment and even with a prescription for Saxenda I have to wait until my pharmacy can get the drug in.

Weight loss is such a difficult emotional issue. Having tried lots of diets and dropped away due to stress/life etc I'm now doing intermittent fasting - 16:8 . There are still good and bad days but it's so much easier to keep going with.
I also joined the Zoe Predict programme which is wonderful but it's a lot of money and my last chance saloon. It's worth reading about (, lots of podcasts by Tim Spector, Christ Van Tulleken as mentioned above).
Mind over matter is hugely important to start off. I found listening to the podcasts helpful. There's also a really easy to read book called The Glucose Revolution by Jesse Inchauspe.
Calories are only one aspect and not the most importante.
Sorry - don't mean to go on but it's a subject close to my heart as I still have a stone and half to deal with after putting on 5 stone with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. Levothyroxine didn't help much, on other meds with it.
Good luck.
If nothing else, joining a weight loss club can be really helpful though I'm now managing on my own.