Can chronic loneliness lead to weight gain?

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What is chronic loneliness?

We’ve all felt alone before, but loneliness is a different type of emotion.

Different to being in a state of solitude or being on your own, chronic loneliness is feeling sad or distressed about being by yourself. It’s a feeling of being disconnected from the world and people around you. Sometimes this disconnection is due to physical isolation and sometimes it occurs due to decisions we make ourselves, or how we deal with things in our life.

Loneliness can cause you to feel empty, alone, unwanted and unworthy. Lonely people often crave human contact, but they often find it hard to form connections with other people. 

Loneliness can have a range of negative effects on your physical health. One of these is that it may cause weight gain.

How does loneliness affect your weight?

You’ll distract yourself by being busy

If you’re lonely you probably distract yourself from your reality by throwing yourself into work, or by spending time on social media. Because if you’re busy, you don’t have time to feel lonely. However, spending long hours working or distracting yourself means that you don’t have time to work on the things that will help you lose weight. This may include regular time to exercise, getting enough sleep, and preparing healthy meals. Being too busy also increases your stress levels which make it hard to lose weight as well. You can read more about this in our blog How stress and weight gain are linked.

You’ll become a people pleaser

In an attempt to make friends or find a partner, you may resort to people-pleasing behaviours, believing if you fit in or are accepted by others, you won’t be lonely anymore. However, people-pleasing is a habit that will sabotage any effort you make to lose weight. When you people please, you end up putting other people’s needs above your own. This means you’ll often do things that you don’t really want to do, which may be the opposite of what’s best for you. For example, if you’re lonely you’re more likely to say ‘yes’ when you’re invited to go out for drinks, even though you know drinking alcohol will sabotage your weight loss efforts. Or you might end up staying out later than you want to, which means you won’t get enough rest. You can read more about this in our blog Are you too nice? Why people pleasing is making you overweight.

When you people please you’re not being your authentic self. This means that any connections or friendships you make with people are incompatible, which can end up adding to your feelings of loneliness. We discuss this more in our blog How to be your authentic self, so you can lose weight.

You’ll feel unworthy

If you feel lonely chances are you feel unworthy. This can lead to you believing that:

  • You’re not worth investing in, so therefore won’t make an effort to lose weight
  • There’s no point in giving your best efforts
  • You can’t do anything outside your comfort zone
  • You can’t lose weight
  • You have to put up with toxic relationships
  • You’re not as good as other people

Low self-worth is a key reason why many people struggle to lose weight. You can read more about it in our blog How low self-worth affects your weight.

You won’t put yourself first

Low self-worth and chronic loneliness can mean that you won’t put yourself first, or do things to look after yourself properly. For example, if you live alone, you may believe it’s too much effort to cook healthy nutritious meals for just yourself, so you’ll settle for takeaway or eat processed food instead. Or you won’t make the effort to get out of bed in the morning to go for a morning walk or do a workout at the gym. 

Emotional eating and drinking

If you’re feeling lonely it’s very common to seek solace in eating or drinking. This is because loneliness can cause you to feel empty inside and food is one way to fill the void and suppress painful emotions. Of course, this is when you’ll usually reach for unhealthy food (i.e. ice-cream, chips, chocolate, lollies, etc.). Turning to alcohol is also a form of emotional eating and many people try to cover their emotions or block them out by drinking too much. It’s also common for emotional eating to turn into binge eating. And of course, all this extra eating and alcohol consumption leads to weight gain. You can read more about emotional eating in our blog How to stop emotional eating. You might also like to take our quiz Are you an emotional eater or a binge eater? 

Loneliness triggers inflammation

Researchers have discovered that loneliness can trigger inflammation, and chronic inflammation is a big contributor to weight gain. You can read more about this in our blog All you need to know about inflammation and Omega-3 and how it affects your weight. 

 

What you can do about it

Build your self-worth

One of the first things you can do to overcome loneliness is to build your self-worth. When you believe you are worthy, you’ll begin to see what an amazing person you are. You’ll realise that you don’t need other people around you to feel worthy, and you’ll be more comfortable being in your own company. When you build your self-worth, you’ll naturally want to do what’s best for you, and you’ll automatically put yourself first which means you’re more likely to stick to your exercise program, prioritise sleep, or make time for healthy meal prep. All these things will mean that weight loss will be easier.

Learn to be your authentic self

You also need to embrace your authentic self — flaws and all. Embracing your authentic self is about being true to the ‘deepest you’ through your thoughts, words and actions. It’s about acknowledging and loving all parts of you, even the parts that you consider to be less than ideal.

When you can be yourself, you’ll stop the people-pleasing behaviours, will no longer put up with toxic relationships or worry about what other people think of you. When you live in alignment with your core beliefs and embrace the person you are, you’ll no longer feel empty inside, and any behaviours you were engaging in to fill a void (e.g. emotional eating) will disappear.

An added bonus is that you will begin to attract the right people into your life — people who see you as you are and love you for who you are, rather than people who want to manipulate you into doing the things they want, or people who were attracted to the non-authentic version of yourself.

You can read more about the importance of being authentic in our blog How to be your authentic self so you can lose weight.

Surround yourself with the right people

Learning to embrace your authentic self and building your self-worth involves work which is why you need to surround yourself with the right people — you need people to help you see who you are, who encourage you to move out of your comfort zone, and who’ll love you for who you really are. 

We’ve seen firsthand how loneliness leads to weight gain and we’ve helped people overcome it.

Through our Diet Antidote Transformation System (DATS™️ Program)— the Not-diet diet for people who are sick of diets and want more than a good body — we can help you find your true self and build your self-worth so you can finally feel happy within yourself and stop feeling lonely.

If you think loneliness has been holding you back, please reach out to us. A new way of living is just a click away.

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