It’s not made easy for you. Food is EVERYWHERE in Dubai. Different cuisines delivered in an instant (or an hour and a bit, depending upon the selected eatery), groceries delivered from just downstairs (that chocolate bar is but a phone call away…), and all-you-can-eat-and-drink brunches as the mainstay of expat weekend life, all help to contribute to one of the worst statistics attributable to the UAE:

66% of male residents are overweight or obese

60% of female residents are overweight or obese

It’s an epidemic alright, and it’s costing the Emirates more than $6 billion a year to treat, the same as smoking related issues and the cost of the armed forces. The rate of obesity in the UAE is double the global average and it’s showing no sign of easing up. As one medical commentator stated: ‘It’s a national crisis.’

A large number of those affected by being either overweight or obese find themselves in the condition they do because of a disorder known as ‘binge eating’. Now, there are those of us that are very quick to dismiss eating disorders as traits exhibiting a lack of self-control, but thinking of food as an addictive entity shouldn’t really come too hard to anyone. Alcohol, drugs and gambling may be the staple addictions with which most of us are familiar, but addiction can extend to basically anything. Food is no different.

How Does it Work?

It basically causes us to rely completely on food as a solution for everything, a momentary escape from reality. Shut down your mind and eat. The phrase ‘comfort food’ has never had such meaning. The trouble is, escaping from reality is addictive, and if it tastes good while doing it, the addictive feeling is multiplied. Eating at this level allows the individual to abdicate from any issues they may be facing temporarily, but it ultimately brings palpable feelings of insecurity, shame, lethargy and eventually depression.

This video explains much about what drives obesity:

Binge eating negatively affects the lives of those directly under its control, and those around them. If it goes undiagnosed or untreated, the chance of disease is greatly increased, with conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol, stroke, psychological disorders, heart disease and obesity all resultant of over-exposure to food.

Symptoms

Those with a binge eating disorder will often display some, or all of the following symptoms:

  • Overeating
  • Depression
  • Mood Swings
  • Stress
  • Eating Alone Often
  • Depression
  • Low Self-esteem
  • Hiding Food

How to Overcome

Here are some tips for how you may be able to overcome your food reliance, and revert back to what was initially intended for the human body – eating only when necessary, and in appropriately sized portions.

1. The Power of the Mind

5 Tips for Overcoming the Urge to Binge Eat in Dubai_The Power of the Mind

How you think and how you perceive every situation in your life directly affects your behaviour. It is our thoughts which shape the world in which we live, because there is no act you are able to perform without first giving it some thought.

Thoughts about food often begin in the subconscious, and can be triggered by anything from an advert on TV, to the state of mind in which you find yourself, such as stress, boredom, negativity relating to your own body, and even tiredness.

It is the uncontrollable misconception that food is the answer to enlightenment, and some kind of happiness, that affects those with binge eating disorder. Having the power to say no to your own mind doesn’t come easy, but there are methods to it. Rather than attempt to simplify the process of cognitive mental hacking in an easily-digestible (no pun intended), watered down description, I would suggest reading this great piece on how to control your urges when it comes to food.

2. Stay in Control

5 Tips for Overcoming the Urge to Binge Eat in Dubai_Stay in Control

Emotions are great aren’t they? They can make you feel on top of the world, help you to understand life and all its wonder. But negative emotions can have deeply damaging repercussions, and are often responsible for eating addictions and disorders.

To learn how to stay in control of your emotions, you must first discover self-awareness, and awareness of your emotions. Once you achieve this, you can then control and use them in a way to actually prevent your appetite for food from entering the fray. Read this piece to understand more about the importance of emotional control.

3. Eat healthy food

5 Tips for Overcoming the Urge to Binge Eat in Dubai_Eat healthy food

In Dubai, this isn’t always easy. The amount of hangovers that are inevitably woken up to, combined with the food-on-click mobile app means that that burger is just a click away from delivery, and in all honesty, most of the healthy options available here are basically shit.

But junk food and fast food have addictive ingredients designed to convince your brain of their greatness, and this makes you want them more. And then, after a time, you become fat. So be strong, put down the chicken drumstick and eat some broccoli or something. Take a look at this piece for some advice on how to eat healthy.

4. Psychotherapy

5 Tips for Overcoming the Urge to Binge Eat in Dubai_Psychotherapy

Therapy is commonplace now. In fact there is an argument that says that every living human being should have therapy, and although I never have (because I’m emotionally retarded), I sure would like to talk some stuff through with someone one day.

Psychotherapy is targeted at encouraging the individual to overcome mental or health conditions which have a negative effect on their lives. A therapist is trained to deal with all levels of disorder (including food-related issues), and will listen and prescribe effective methods in combating the condition.

5. Hypnotherapy

5 Tips for Overcoming the Urge to Binge Eat in Dubai_Hypnotherapy

Hmmmm ok so while I may be the ultimate sceptic when it comes to one human’s ability to place another human into a higher state of consciousness without the aid of some serious pharmaceuticals, there are those for whom this has apparently worked. So if all else fails, look into their eyes, not around their eyes, directly into their eyes……

For more information on healthy eating in Dubai, contact the Dubai Health Authority