Sadness, anxiety and stress are common causes of overeating, which can contribute to weight gain and obesity. Both psychological and physiological factors are at play when it comes to emotional eating. Hormonal and chemical changes that occur in the body when emotions run high, and those changes may result in uncontrollable cravings for highly palatable foods that are typically high in sugar, simple carbs and fat.
Emotional eating is a common problem for many bariatric patients. Difficulty dealing with negative emotions in a healthy way, combined with increases in the hormone that causes cravings (cortisol), leads to a pattern of emotional eating that may continue for years. Triggers for emotional eating won’t go away after weight loss surgery, so it’s absolutely critical that bariatric patients equip themselves with tools to manage stress and emotions in a healthy way.
Do you struggle with emotional eating? Here are a few tips to help you control emotional eating after bariatric surgery.
Next time you’re feeling stressed, worried, sad or anxious, pay attention to those feelings and be conscious of the food choices you make when you’re feeling emotional. Train yourself to stop before eating and ask yourself if you are truly hungry, or if you are eating in response to your emotions.
Never eat meals or snacks while watching TV or engaging in another activity that takes your focus off the meal you are eating. Instead, always eat meals and snacks mindfully while sitting at the table. Think about every bite you take and make each meal purposeful.
Living in isolation is never healthy. Surround yourself with people who will encourage you when you are feeling stressed or emotional and who will hold you accountable to making healthy choices. Consider joining a bariatric support group, where you will gain inspiration and motivation from others on the same journey.
Regular exercise is a proven way to reduce stress and one of the best things you can do if you are feeling anxious, sad or stressed. Invest time in a hobby or spend time with loved ones. Find alternative ways to manage your stress and emotions by creating new habits rather than reaching for a bag of chips or a box of cookies when you’re feeling down.
Avoid purchasing foods that may be a weakness for you during stressful or emotional times. Keep cut up veggies and fresh fruit on hand so you’ll be more likely to reach for something nutritious when you’re sad or stressed.
If emotional eating has been a pattern for you over the years, schedule an appointment to talk with your physician or with a psychologist who can help you develop a healthy plan to deal with your stress and emotions.
McCarty Weight Loss Center provides weight loss support for bariatric patients in Dallas, TX, including nutritional counseling, fitness training and support groups.