There is some guidance in the Lifestyle Changes resource and Weight Management Webinars on this website. If you want to focus on weight management and don’t feel able to work through the resources recommended on this website, you might want to ask your GP for a referral to your local weight management service. You can learn more about the NHS Lothian weight management service here, including an option to self-refer. Depending on your circumstances, you might be offered support in the community or added to a list for assessment by a specialist dietitian. Unfortunately, there is a significant waiting time for an assessment so if you are able to focus on any of the suggestions below, that will place you in a stronger position to benefit from the service at the time of your appointment.
The relationship people have with food can be complicated. Everyone’s personal circumstances are different, and whilst focusing on a healthier lifestyle might be easy for some people, there are some situations where people may need more support first. If you’re finding that significant stressors, such as the care needs of loved ones, financial pressures, or your mental health are affecting your eating habits and lifestyle, getting support to problem solve those difficulties first is likely to be helpful for you so that any dietary changes are more likely to be realistic. You may wish to look through the other sections of this website, contact your GP, local social care service, or Citizens Advice Bureau.
In addition to our longer term relationship with food, family history and food environment, common factors that can lead to overeating or binge eating as an understandable coping strategy include:
Comfort eating as a coping strategy for these and many other human challenges is not bad or wrong but may lead to complications with our health and wellbeing in the long term if it is our main or only coping strategy. And taking away our main coping strategy without finding helpful alternatives first is not a compassionate response to human suffering or a sustainable solution. This is why difficulties managing our weight are not just about healthy eating, exercise and willpower. It is also the reason a dietitian or psychologist might recommend not focusing on weight loss until you have made other changes. Focusing on regular eating without strict food rules and working through the resources that are relevant for you may equip you with more options for coping with the challenges you face in life and help you to practise meeting your needs in ways that don’t negatively affect your health. It does take time to get used to new skills and for these to become habits so please be patient with yourself.
NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde has lots of helpful information about weight management, disordered eating and video based Psychology Education Talks for managing stress, overeating and self-criticism on their website here.
The Centre for Clinical Interventions has a range of free self-help workbooks broken down into small modules, including ones for:
The Compassionate Mind Approach to Beating Overeating: Ken Goss
Overcoming Weight Problems: Grace and Gauntlett-Gilbert
Understanding Your Eating: How to Eat and Not Worry About It: Julia Buckroyd
50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food: Susan Albers
Overcoming Binge Eating: Dr. Christopher G. Fairburn
The Weight Escape: Ann Bailey, Joseph Ciarrochi & Russ Harris
Living With Your Body & Other Things You Hate: Emily K. Sandoz & Troy DuFrene
End Emotional Eating: Jennifer Taitz
Eating disorders do not only affect people who are underweight. If you think you might have an eating disorder, it is important to treat that before focusing on weight loss. If you’d like to follow a self-help approach, some of the books listed above might be helpful or this online free resource:
You might also want to consider whether support from the eating disorder charity, Beat, may be helpful to you. They have information about the different types of eating disorders and can sometimes provide guided self help sessions, including for binge eating difficulties.
If you are unable to work through self-help materials or need further support from trained professionals and feel that an eating disorder is your main difficulty, please request a referral to the local eating disorders service from your GP. If you are already being treated within a mental health service or are on a waiting list for mental health treatment, we would recommend discussing your relationship with food and eating patterns within those sessions.