From Struggling With Weight to Dealing With Loss

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“Suzanne Gelb Image”

”Weight Loss, Why the Struggle?”


Dear Dr. Gelb:

I graduated college with good grades in the spring. I have a good job lined up for the fall and my future looks good. My problem is that I am overweight and have failed many many attempts to shed pounds. How can I be so successful academically, but such a failure with weight-loss?

Failing to Succeed

Dr. Gelb says . . .

Dear Failure:

In my opinion, for the most part overeating and obesity are habits that people teach themselves. In such instances, people can literally become addicted to food and their neurons and body tend to scream for it, so to speak, when it is absent.

Food has become the overweight person’s best friend — it never rejects them, it is always there when they need it and it doesn’t divulge any of their secrets. So it is not easy to give up one’s best friend.

If the overeater can find a way to divorce their “best friend” then they are more likely to be in a position to begin to lose weight. This is not unlike saying “No” to a best friend or to something one loves very much. Along these lines, some people have found it useful to do some soul searching to try to understand what purpose the food is serving, other than nourishment (i.e., what void is the food filling, what is it replacing in one’s life?).

”Illness, How to Tell a Child?”

Dear Dr. Gelb:

My mother has been diagnosed with breast cancer. I don’t know how to tell my 5-year-old son. I don’t want to scare him but to just say his grandmother has a “boo boo” doesn’t seem right. Where do I start?


Dr. Gelb says . . .

Dear Hesitant:

I believe that it is never too late or too early to teach a child about death and dying. Children need to be taught about death just as they are taught about life. Death is a part of living and is experienced in many aspects of life — death of relationships, death of pets, and the fear of death needs to be resolved.

In my opinion, children should be taken to funerals and they should be exposed to the expiration of life of all species. They should also be taught about how one’s emotions can help one deal with loss (e.g., crying, anger). Thus I believe that parents would be remiss if they try to protect their children from the concept of dying.

Dying is just as natural as living. In some instances, where secrecy and the fear of death have been taught, psychological issues such as hypochondria or insomnia have manifested. There are many articles and published materials about death and dying and how families can deal with it. My article, “Family Caring for Family,” published in Hawaii Parent October/November 1999 addresses teaching children about the geriatric needs of their grandparents and addresses the issue of understanding death. The sooner parents introduce their children to this natural process, the more comfortable I believe these youngsters are likely to be with loss.

”’Suzanne J. Gelb, Ph.D., J.D. authors this daily column, Dr. Gelb Says, which answers questions about daily living and behavior issues. Dr. Gelb is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Honolulu. She holds a Ph.D. in Psychology and a Ph.D. in Human Services. Dr. Gelb is also a published author of a book on Overcoming Addictions and a book on Relationships.”’

”’This column is intended for entertainment use only and is not intended for the purpose of psychological diagnosis, treatment or personalized advice. For more about the column’s purpose, see”’ “An Online Intro to Dr. Gelb Says”

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