After gastric bypass surgery food can be a huge challenge. We find that many people bury their feelings in food. Food is used as a source of comfort. Gastric bypass surgery provides a tool to control portion size but does not automatically change the reason you eat. For successful post-surgery results, one must change old food habits, like emotional eating, and engage in healthier life choices. At the Bariatric Center of Kansas City we work with our gastric bypass patients on all aspects of recovery, including curbing emotional challenges so you are able to choose your foods wisely.
Gastric bypass surgery is life changing; however, it does not change your life in terms of job, family and other psycho-social aspects. If you are an emotional eater, your reason for eating will not change until you take a look at why you eat and evaluate the situation that triggers poor food choices. You must find the trigger or source (stress, worry, pain, reward, comfort…) of your emotional eating.
The doctors of the Bariatric Center of Kansas City encourage their patients to set consistent meal times, follow a more strict food routine and engage in programs that build self-awareness. Understanding the difference between physical and emotional hunger is key to post gastric bypass surgery success.
Physical hunger builds up slowly and is triggered by your body’s need to eat to sustain proper bodily function. Gastric bypass does change the amount you can eat when you feel physical hunger, but you can eat a small portion of food and still be satisfied.
Emotional hunger hits suddenly and is triggered by a psychological incident. A craving is triggered, often a learned cause and effect, due to an emotional event. As the event occurs the craving causes an overwhelming “need” for a particular item. Usually the craving demands immediate attention and is not satisfied by small or moderate portions.
Am I an Emotional Eater?
Suddenly craving a food may be part of the adjustment to your new portions and diet or it could be an indication of a deeper unhealthy physiological relationship with food. If you are concerned about your cravings after gastric bypass surgery, we suggest you examine your eating feelings with these 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?
These questions are meant to assist you in examining the root of the craving you feel. This type of mental and emotional quiz may help you identify your true feelings and make healthier food choices. Accepting responsibility for your actions is a very important part of your gastric bypass surgery recovery and long term success.
Blogger and columnist Cathy Wilson had gastric bypass surgery in 2001 and lost 147 pounds. Recently we came across her blog listing 60 ways she found to curb her emotional eating. In hopes of providing you encouragement on your gastric bypass and relationship with food journey, The Bariatric Center of Kansas City would like to share her list with you.
60 Ways to Avoid Emotional Eating After Gastric Bypass
- Hang out on your favorite message board and post
- Set up (or review) Health Tracker
- Change your environment to change your mindset, i.e., from your family room to go outside
- Call a friend or loved one
- Take a walk
- Do a crossword puzzle
- Brush your teeth
- Paint your nails
- Take a shower or a bath
- Drink water (many times thirst masks as hunger)
- Organize a bothersome drawer or closet
- Play a video game
- Check out new apps on your mobile device
- Read a magazine
- Try out a new hobby
- Catch up on emails
- Go shopping at a mall
- Walk around the mall while you’re there
- Eat a cinnamon or mint flavored sugar free mint
- Watch a movie
- Make a cup of soothing herbal tea
- Watch a favorite television showWrite in a journal
- Do crunches and/or push-ups
- Take a drive – either alone or invite someone to go with you
- Create your own goal using the ObesityHelp Goal System
- Put in an exercise DVD and workout
- Play solitaire
- Listen to your favorite tunes
- Dance to those favorite tunes
- Check out Before/After Photos for lots of motivation
- Lift weights, kettlebells or use resistance bands to tone and build muscle
- Go for a bike ride
- Call, write a note or email to tell someone how much they mean to you
- Create a scrapbook of your favorite photos or your own weight loss journey
- Color in a coloring book (remember how much fun you had as a child?)
- Write down 10 people and things you are most grateful for
- Read a book
- Play a board game with friends and family
- Check out classes or lessons (singing, piano, cooking) that you’re interested in
- Try a hobby that will involve your hands such as looming, knitting, embroidery, counted cross stitch, floral design, etc.
- Write down the reasons you had weight loss surgery and wanted to lose weight; post it on your refrigerator
- Prepare a new healthy and WLS-friendly dish
- Take a nap
- Take photographs of family, friends, outside and some selfies
- Plan your next vacation
- Play (or learn) an instrument
- Pray or Meditate
- Do Yoga
- Work on a jigsaw puzzle
- Go to the library and check out books
- Work on a Sudoku puzzle
- Buy an audio book that you listen to only when you are exercising
- Make jewelry
- Check out volunteer opportunities in your community, i.e. school, church, hospitals, a favorite cause
- Read motivational and inspirational quotes
- Cruise the Internet to research more about things you’re interested in or, better yet, new things of interest to you
- And last but not least, address what’s really bothering you.
If you feel you are caught up in emotional eating and would benefit from therapeutic assistance to help identify the root causes for your eating behaviors, please feel free to contact The Bariatric Center of Kansas City to schedule an appointment with one of our Bariatric Psychologists. As experts in this field, they are available to help guide you to healthier eating behaviors and practices!