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Expert Q&A: Losing a Lot of Weight

An interview with Michael Dansinger, MD.

How can I overcome emotional eating?

Almost all of us eat for comfort sometimes, but some people have a severe problem with emotional eating. Ideally, resolving the underlying causes or stressors is the best idea. Many psychologists specialize in this area. Overeaters Anonymous and similar groups can also be very helpful. For many, finding simple logistical solutions -- like getting the junk food or other trigger foods out of the house -- can work really well. 

It feels like my friends and family want me to stay heavy. How can I prevent weight loss sabotage?

Almost everybody -- your friends, your family and your doctor -- want you to succeed. But your losing weight can trigger unhelpful responses in some people. 

Unhealthy eating is fun – at least at the time – and we don’t like to chow down alone. We do it with friends or family. So if you’ve changed your eating habits, it may be hard for the people around you to accept that you’re not taking part. They may miss how things used to be. They may also get annoyed at all the time you spend at the gym or feel jealous of your success.

So expect some weight loss sabotage. Sometimes, you may need to put some distance between yourself and people who are counterproductive to your efforts. But before you do that, just be firm. They may be testing your limits, just to see how serious you are. It’s like little kids pushing boundaries with their parents to find out which ones can’t be crossed. So if you just stay firm, you may find that a lot of people back off and stop undermining you.

In the end, people may have mixed feelings about what you’re doing. You just have to accept that as a normal downside to achieving weight loss success.

How has your research – or your work with the contestants on The Biggest Loser – changed your own dietary and exercise habits?

Before I became a nutrition doctor and researcher, I paid much less attention to healthy lifestyle habits. Once I learned about nutrition, I started to find ways to eat less starch and animal fat.

As a busy doctor, husband, and father, it’s been a challenge to figure out how to squeeze enough exercise into my life. Nevertheless, I manage to practice what I preach, which not only allows me to look my patients in the eyes when I advise them -- it also allows me to give specific suggestions in response to each individual patient's unique challenges.

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Reviewed on November 25, 2008

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