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Addressing the Root Causes of Unhealthy Habits

It is important to focus on the underlying or root causes of unhealthy habits if we want permanent positive change.

Photo of Holly Davis
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In the documentary Hungry for Change, Dr. Christiane Northrup, a best-selling women’s health author, an obstetrician and a gynaecologist says (at 1:09:19 - one hour, 9 minutes and 19 seconds - into the film):

“There’s an interesting study called the 'ACE Study,' the 'Adverse Childhood Experiences Study,' done by Vincent Felitti at Kaiser Permanente in San Diego. And they were working with obese people. And what he’s come to the conclusion of is that obesity is not the problem, it’s a solution. So let’s take a look at that: it’s a solution to chronic stress, it’s a solution in many people to sexual abuse, dysfunctional family situation and so on.”

Kris Carr, author and filmmaker of Crazy Sexy Cancer says in the Hungry for Change documentary (at 8:58):

“It comes back to what you eat, what you drink and what you think.”

Later on in the film (at 1:09:09) she says:

“It’s not just what you’re eating, it’s also what’s eating you. So where is the sweetness missing in your life? What else is going on, what kind of suffering are you going through? What’s going on between this ear and this ear?” (Pointing first to her right ear and then her left ear.)

These provocative statements lead me to wonder if benefit can be gained by focusing on how technology might help us to address the root causes of unhealthy habits such as over-eating, being a couch-potato for months on end, smoking or drinking to excess.

Dr. Northrup and others interviewed in the film provide some suggestions on ways to improve health, some of which address the underlying causes of unhealthy habits:

  • eating healthier foods
  • eating in moderation
  • detoxifying your body
  • drinking more water
  • exercising regularly, even just taking a walk
  • laughing more
  • getting enough sleep
  • focusing on what you are thinking
  • visualizing a healthier you
  • using self-love techniques to directly improve physical health (Dr. Northrup who discusses this idea is a real doctor with scientific results, though the idea originated with Louise Hay)

I’d also be interested in others experiences on this forum.

When you are unhappy, depressed, have a “bad hair day” or a “bad tech day”, what helps you feel better?

Are there techniques or tools you or others you know have used to address some of the harder issues to confront like low self-esteem?

How can we leverage existing apps or websites to address the deeper root causes of unhealthy habits so the positive changes that occur can become permanent?


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Photo of Philip Matthews

Great post Holly - that's some awesome research.

I agree that it's important to find the root cause of the problem, at both macro (community) and micro (individual) scale.

How might we use tech and media to identify root causes of obesity in all socioeconomic and multicultural groups? This could be great question to brainstorm around, as part of a solution.

Identify the root cause to get a tailored solution?