The Blessed Trinity of Weight Loss Needs a New Member

In Christianity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit make up the Blessed Trinity.  They are all God, yet they are all distinct “beings” holding equal power and responsibility.

  Figure 1. The Blessed Trinity   (courtesy Alchetron)

Figure 1. The Blessed Trinity (courtesy Alchetron)

In the world of weight loss, the Blessed Trinity can be likened to:

1) Nutrition

2) Physical Activity

3) Behavior Change/Modification

Although many people rank these elements differently in terms of importance, research (and experience) has shown that we require all three to be successful.  Yet, this Blessed Trinity is still somehow incomplete.  There is another leg that’s missing. 

If you think about the blessed trinity of weight loss, dietitians are in charge of nutrition, personal trainers are in charge of physical activity, and behavioral psychologists or another health professional are in charge of behavior change/modification.  All three professionals’ roles and responsibilities overlap with one another to some degree; however, no one professional is solely responsible for helping to control the client’s environment.

In biblical terms, the 21st century food environment is currently akin to the Blessed Trinity’s arch nemesis, Satan.  There are an infinite number of food temptations around every corner, everywhere you look, everywhere you are, everywhere you plan to be.  Whether you’re at work, home, commuting, on social media or watching television, it is impossible to escape the temptation of food.

  Figure 2. Food Environment Flooded with Food.

Figure 2. Food Environment Flooded with Food.

We need someone to either fight Satan, or convert him to our side.  Unlike the true Blessed Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, which can “manage” Satan, dietitians, personal trainers, and behavioral psychologists are no match for our current food environment. 

There is no amount of nutrition education, calories burned at the gym, or behavior modification/willpower/cognitive training that is going to overcome our food environments.  Despite our best efforts, our current food environment is an unstoppable force.  Merely being in its presence will cause you to overeat.  However, there is a solution:

 

Fix the food environment = fix the problem.

 

With our biological drive to eat tasty, salty, fatty, sugary foods, coupled with an excessive amount and opportunity to eat, overeating is the inevitable result.  Our biological drive to eat isn’t going to change (much); however, we can change our (personal) food environments to decrease both the amount we eat and the opportunities we have to eat.

The food environment is too important to continue to rely on dietitians, personal trainers, and psychologists to manage in addition to the other roles they play.  I’m not trying to understate the importance of these professionals.  They all do great and important work.  But the problem is, their work and where you, the client, live, work, and play (your environment) are in completely different galaxies.  This is why we need someone to monitor your food environment and to see the world as you see it in your day-to-day life.    

We need to add a fourth member to the Blessed Trinity, someone whose sole purpose is to help you monitor/manage your food environment.  I’m not exactly sure what to call this person or if this occupation even exists; however, the name that comes to my mind is a Food Environment Manager (FEM).  If you fix the food environment, there isn’t as much of a need for extensive nutrition education, knowing the number of calories consumed versus calories expended, and you don’t have to rely on willpower to guard against overeating.  You take care of your food environment and your food environment takes care of you.

Continuing to address weight management in our current three-pronged approach is only going to result in more long term failure.  Knowing what to do is far different from knowing how to do it and eating healthy is no exception.  If we can control your food environment, eating healthy becomes much more routine, sustainable, and automatic.

 

Todd M. Weber PhD, MS, RD