Emotional Eating: Separate Feelings from Food
Talk to your bariatric surgeon in Detroit, Ypsilanti or Saginaw about avoiding the pitfalls of emotional eating after weight loss surgery
All of us have bad days. Responsibilities pile up at work, problems pop up at home and you may eventually find yourself so frazzled and stressed that you forget all about the advice given by your bariatric surgeon. Even when you’ve steadfastly committed to a healthy lifestyle, one bad day can send you into a negative spiral, causing you to break your diet almost mindlessly in a rush of emotions.
Bad days are inevitable after bariatric surgery, but emotional eating is not. You’ll need to make many changes in your behavior after bariatric surgery and emotional eating is just one more unhealthy habit you’ll need to learn how to break. Physical hunger isn’t the only thing that makes us want to eat—many people seek food when bored, anxious or depressed, and this can lead to overeating that impedes your progress and harms your health.
Figuring out how to control emotional eating takes time. The first step is to understand the difference between an emotional craving and true, physical hunger. If you suspect that your hunger may be related to emotions, stop to ask yourself these questions:
- Do I have a craving for a particular food? Physical hunger rarely manifests in specific cravings. When you’re actually hungry, you’re more likely to have an open mind about what to eat instead of seeking an individual unhealthy item.
- Did this hunger hit me quickly? Just like the emotions that cause it, emotional hunger can hit you hard immediately, but physical hunger tends to develop slowly over time.
- If I make this decision, will I feel guilty about it later? Guilt is a consistently good indicator that you’re doing something you shouldn’t be. If you think that eating something now will make you feel guilty later, it’s probably a good idea to stop.
Recognizing emotional eating is a big part of the battle, but won’t always put the skids on this bad habit by itself. There are many ways to help yourself break the emotional eating habit, including:
- Look for the trigger. When we eat emotionally, it’s usually caused by an event or circumstance that stresses out or upsets us. Try to figure out the situations that are most likely to cause emotional eating and stay wary when you encounter them, or do your best to avoid them altogether. When you have an emotional eating episode, think about what may have prompted it and how to keep the problem from recurring.
- Change the situation. Sometimes, changing your location or doing something else is enough to stop emotional eating before it starts. When you feel emotional and tempted to indulge in something unhealthy, distract yourself by heading out for a little exercise, calling a friend for a chat or doing something you enjoy that is completely unrelated to food. Anything that gets you out of the kitchen and keeps your mind off eating can be helpful.
Emotional eating can be a problem after bariatric surgery, but you can learn to overcome it like any other bad habit. Still, everyone experiences emotional eating differently. How have you been affected by emotional eating after bariatric surgery, and what has helped you break the habit? Share your strategies and stories with us in the comments below.