Upsetting News from the Doctors
I have been meaning to write about this topic for quite some time now. When it became clear that my son had hypothalamic obesity, I often expressed to our doctors how difficult it was to keep my son from gaining weight, even for a Registered Dietitian. Here are some of the responses I received:
“I don’t envy you.”
“That is very concerning.”
“There is not much you can do.”
Upsetting News from the Medical Literature
When I read the medical literature about hypothalamic obesity and hyperphagia, I heard the same take away message in article after article: “this type of obesity is unresponsive to diet” and “exercise and weight loss efforts are unsuccessful.”
No Hope Equals No Fight
I bought into that mindset for 6 years. Although I tried to keep my son’s weight in check, I did not try as hard as I might have because I believed that his destiny had already been written. Eventually I gave up fighting altogether. Worse, I relayed to my child that he had no control over his drive to eat. I did not want to raise his hopes.
The Power of Intention
One day, thankfully, his therapist told him, “you may feel hungry all of the time and it may be harder for you [to control how much you eat] than it is for people who don’t t have hypothalamic obesity. BUT YOU DO HAVE SOME CONTROL.” I loved what I was hearing, but also feared she was giving him unrealistic expectations. That’s not what the doctors had told us. Then I remembered something that I had read a long time ago. The power of intention.
The power of intention works. If you can imagine it, and believe that it is possible, then it IS possible! However, if you believe that something is impossible then you are doomed before you even start. The most important thing that therapist did was make my son BELIEVE that he does have SOME control. And guess what? He DOES ! I am not saying he doesn’t have hyperphagia anymore. I am not saying that we don’t still work our tails off every single day to stay on top of this thing. We do. But a change in our mindset made a huge difference. From that day on, I noticed a difference.
Here is an example. Normally, when my son stumbled upon food left out by his brother he would have eaten it all. After that day, there were many times that instead of eating it, he brought it to me asked me to “get rid of it!” He started to bring home food from school lunches when the portion sizes were too big. Of course sometimes he chooses to sneak it into his room and eat it, but my point is that he does have SOME control. And believing that made a HUGE difference in his behavior. It empowers and motivates him and makes him proud!
A Little Hope Goes a Long Way!
There is a spectrum of hypothalamic obesity, which means that not everyone with HO will respond the same to lifestyle and diet change. There are some that, despite their best efforts, may not be able to lose weight and I want to make sure to acknowledge that fact. However, if you don’t believe something is possible, then you will never know, will you?
PLEASE do not accept defeat before you have tried. Teach your children that they do have SOME control. They won’t always make the best choice, and that is okay. Celebrate the times they do. As long as they believe that they have SOME power over this HO monster, they will have a fighting chance.