Dear Therapist: ‘I’m always stressing about putting on weight’

Making sense of the world we inhabit

By Prateeksha Shetty

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Published: Thu 24 Mar 2022, 6:21 PM

I love eating but I also love looking a certain way. I’ve lost a lot of weight over the past year and reached a place where I’m satisfied with what I see on the scale. However, the discipline I had to undertake to get here was very strenuous, giving up on junk food and sweets almost completely. It was emotionally exhausting. Now, I seem to be straying away from that regimen and I find myself stressing about gaining the weight back. — Name Withheld

Dear Writer, it is commendable that you were able to cut down on your eating to such a great extent! I am, however, very curious to understand your expectations for a specific body weight. Your fear of weight is something that I find both puzzling and troubling. You may need to look into why that terrifies you so much. There are a number of factors that can influence our body weight apart from our appetite, eating style, body image, among others. Having strict or rigid yardsticks often make us fall easily, this may explain your current predicament. Having a more compassionate and balanced lifestyle, with revised expectations, may help you stay on path. For instance, allowance for cheat days, in terms of food and exercise usually works well. Generally, if the regimen begins to feel punitive, it tends to fail. Thinking of physical activities that are pleasurable (sports, specific exercises) can also help you stay motivated. If body image or emotional eating is something that you engage in, you may need to look at getting professional help.

My daughter has entered her teens and is now in the phase of social media and boys. How do I give her privacy and show her that I trust her while also navigating a parent’s protective instinct? — Sheena Shah

Navigating this transition with your daughter involves balancing provision of autonomy as well as parental supervision. Having a dialogue from time to time with your daughter about her social media usage and interaction with boys will help you stay within her circle. You must clearly facilitate the idea that, in times of trouble, she must reach out to you, even if she engaged in something that you would not approve of. This is crucial and needs to be enacted in your daily interactions rather than lip service. Certain apps that are detrimental to mental health or are unsafe need to be identified — this is where you can monitor her, again with an agreement and consent.

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