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Let's talk Life: Battle of the bulge

Published:Saturday | June 23, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Yvonnie Bailey- Davidson, contributor

Dear Counsellor,

I have a weight problem and I have tried various diets with no good results. What are the issues to consider in a weight-loss programme?

- Margret

Dear Margret,

Weight management is fraught with great obstacles. Eating is an activity that comes naturally. Since birth, an individual has looked to food to provide energy, growth, and comfort. Food is comforting, and we all look for something to eat whenever we are hungry. When we are socialising, we eat and drink and have a good time. If we feel for a certain food and cannot have it, then we feel resentful and upset and behave as if we are deprived.

There are several issues to consider. Diet, activity, exercise, spirituality, emotions, and behaviour have to be considered. Spirituality is most important. Our beliefs affect our thoughts and actions. There are existential issues to consider like purpose of life and meaning to life. These issues cause anxiety in people, and so they eat to comfort themselves. Food is pleasing to the eye and the taste is divine. The problems of life cause people to fret and worry, and so they eat.


A hungry man is an angry man. Some people steal to get food to eat. Food is life sustaining and it has to be found. Whatever emotion an individual is experiencing will cause him to want to feel in control. Some people drink alcohol while others smoke cigarettes or ganja.

We need to look at portion size and frequency of eating. A large meal or frequent small meals can cause problems. You need to be familiar with the caloric content of your food. You need to make an inventory of the food that you like and would like to eat sometimes. This will give you ideas as to the calories that you are consuming.

Exercise is important as it will improve your lung and heart function and burn calories. Take the stairs at work, walk short distances instead of driving, and walk as often as you can. Drink lots of water each day and cut down on sodas and sweet drinks.

A healthy lifestyle requires a commitment to behaviour change and being dedicated to follow through on your programme.

Failure of diet programmes causes people to get upset, depressed, and angry. In counselling you have to deal with your feelings and emotions. In trying to lose weight, you need a therapist, a priest, a nutritionist, and an exercise trainer. See what you can arrange.

Sleeping problems

Dear Counsellor,

I am not sleeping well at nights and I am sleepy in the day. I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and I am on monthly injections and tablets. I have a job, but the daytime sleepiness is interfering with my work.

- Daphne

Dear Daphne,

Sleep problems are common in people who have bipolar disorder. Sleep is essential in people with bipolar disorder and insomnia can trigger a relapse. Discuss this problem with your psychiatrist. You need a review of your medication and addition of a sedative so that you can sleep at nights.

Have you been feeling stressed lately, or have you had a death in your family? Extra pressure at work or a promotion can cause you to feel stressed. Some stress management may be needed, or grief counselling.

Patients with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia need to be seen regularly by their psychiatrists and remain compliant with their medications and office visits. Close supervision and support will keep most patients well and working. Early relapse can be caught and dealt with.

Email questions and feedback for Dr Yvonnie Bailey-Davidson to or call 978-8602.