Emotional Eating and Common Food Challenges

People tend to bury their feelings in food. Food is often used as a comfort source for many emotions. It’s like our best friend. Bariatric surgery provides a tool to control your portion sizes and combined with our program, can teach you to choose your foods wisely.

Bariatric surgery does not change your life in terms of job, family and other psychosocial aspects. If some areas of your life are causing you to eat you might want to take a step back and evaluate the situation. You must try very hard not to use food as an outlet. Set consistent meal times and follow that routine.

Understand the difference between physical and emotional hunger. Physical hunger is the physiological need to eat and it builds up slowly. You can eat a small portion of food and be satisfied. Emotional hunger on the other hand is triggered by a psychological aspect and it hits you suddenly. You develop craving for a particular item and you can eat large portions of that item. Here are some pointers to help you along the way to tackle emotional eating.

Get out of the kitchen

Get out of the kitchen and remove food as an easy temptation and rewardYou need to remove food as an easy temptation and reward. If you find yourself using your kitchen as your home base then you need to find a different outlet. This is especially important if you find yourself with feelings of food related anxiety. Break your pre-surgery routine. Instead of reaching for a snack, take a short walk outside. Perform a series of stretches. Putting some distance between you and your temptations will help your self-control and your ability to replace unhealthy reward with life-affirming activities.

Plan your meals and know your emotions

  • Plan your meals and snacks. If you have planned meals and snacks, you will be able to detect emotional eating easily if you are looking for food outside of your normal routine.
  • Identify your emotion associated with eating. Are you eating because you are stressed, bored, guilty, angry, sad or happy? Once you identify the emotion, it is much easier to cope with it.
  • Surround yourself with healthy food choices. If you have a pint of ice-cream in your freezer, you might decide to help yourself in the middle of the night. If you know you can’t control yourself then it is better not to have the food in your freezer.
  • Attend support groups to develop strategies and to have an outlet. Talk to you doctor, registered dietitian or psychologist to find different coping mechanisms.
  • Keep a food journal.

Ask yourself the following questions

If you suddenly crave for something when you have already eaten or if you begin to get feelings of food anxiety, you might want to consider the following questions:

  • Why do I want to eat this?
  • Am I upset about something?
  • Am I angry about something?
  • Is there something that I need to do that I am putting off?
  • Will something else satisfy my craving?
  • Do I really need to eat this?
  • Am I lonely?
  • Am I bored?

Once you have answered these questions and examined your feelings, you might decide not to eat the high caloric food you are craving. At first, taking this type of mental quiz might seem unnatural and uncomfortable. Nevertheless, it is the kind of mental exercise which helps you identify your feelings. Acknowledging your feelings and accepting responsibility for your actions is a very important part of your recovery and long term success.

Tips on Eating Out

Most people eat out. You can continue to enjoy eating out by making few changes to the way you approach restaurants.

  • Plan ahead. Keep copies of menus or go on line for nutritional information from your favorite restaurant.
  • Decide what you want before you go, select things that you know are safe
  • Try new foods at home first
  • Do not be afraid to ask for certain foods or make special requests
  • Avoid fried foods
  • Share a meal or box half of your meal before starting. Eat from a bread plate or salad plate.
  • Order your drink to go or get a glass of ice.
  • Avoid eating at buffets and fast food restaurants.
Medical Condition: 
Post-Bariatric Surgery State
Lifestyle Modification: 
Diet
Anatomical Structure: 
Digestive System
Medical Procedure: 
Bariatric Surgery
Speciality Classification: 
DietNutrition
Medical Entity Classification: 
Behavior
MeSH Identifier: 
F01.145.407.516
National Library of Medicine: 
MeSH
Medical Audience: 
Patient