Living Life After Weight-Loss Surgery: Stress Over-Eating Remains a Pitfall

My Bariatric Life Health Guide
  • I had an eating relapse this weekend. Let me tell you about it.


    In prep for Hurricane Irene, I stocked up on water and non-perishable foods. The latter being processed foods, of course, which were a staple of my diet before weight loss surgery and now something I rarely eat since changing to a lifestyle of healthy living. We bought things that required no refrigeration or heating to eat - which amounted to a lot of boxed high carbohydrate foods, canned proteins, and two rounds of "processed Gruyere cheese product." These items were intended in the event that we lost power for a few days.


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    Well, I am happy to say that we escaped Irene without much incident. We didn't even lose power.


    Unfortunately, for reasons unknown to me, I gorged myself on these processed foods - well gorged myself as much as a weight-loss surgery patient can, which isn't nary what I would consume on a nightly basis before surgery. Anyway, the point is that I lay on the couch all weekend watching TV - also something that I never do -filling myself on granola bars with organic peanut butter, organic pop corn with real melted butter, homemade veggie pizza, organic puffed cereal with almond milk and dried banana chips, homemade sugar-free fruit turnovers, nut crackers with cheese, and mini rice cakes. Regardless of having a refrigerator and freezer filled with fresh healthful foods!


    Now, I know some people reading this sharepost are thinking that this is not much of an eating binge. Well, I am here to tell you that there is very little room for refined carbohydrates and processed foods in the bariatric diet. That's how America's obesity epidemic began! Also keep in mind that I have a stomach pouch that is considerably smaller than a normal stomach as a result of my gastric bypass surgery. Believe me, I could recount eating binges for you pre-weight-loss surgery that would make your hair curl. I could eat most people under the table back then.


    The point is that this is an eating binge for who I am today. It is a common pitfall of weight-loss surgery patients to excuse disordered eating with the notion that the binge is not as bad as what you would have done in the past. You are not that person anymore. But if you have enough eating relapses you eventually will become that person again. This wasn't an indulgent day of eating for me. It was sick.


    In fact, I ate this way for two straight days. By the end of day 1, I felt physically ill. My stomach hurt. I felt nauseated and bloated. You could not have paid me enough money to actually get me up and doing something. I could not stop myself. I lay on the couch, ate more, and vowed to eat healthful the next day.


    The next day I started off immediately on the wrong foot by eating organic puffed cereal with almond milk and dried banana chips. It made me feel physically ill all over again. What's worse, as I went along throughout my day I began to feel emotionally ill and spiritually barren. I felt frightened, I wanted to isolate. I became anxious about work the next day and wanted to call out sick. I felt an invisible wall come up around me, separating me from all of humanity.


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    And that's when I remembered: This is the way that I felt on a regular basis, physically, emotionally, and spiritually ill. I spent my time in bed watching TV and eating... depressed... anxious. That was largely my life before weight-loss surgery. It was a half lived desperate life.


    So why did I relapse?


    I read an article in WebMD that may hold the answer, "Dieters Tend to Overeat When Stressed." The article states "If you're always dieting, you may throw up your hands in times of stress and say, 'I'll eat what I want to.'" They labeled this person a stress over-eater. So, what happened is that I used my stress over Hurricane Irene as an excuse to overeat the foods I am typically forbidden to have, or only allowed in small doses. It makes sense.


    Now that I am aware of this pitfall for myself, I hopefully can nip it in the bud before it gets too far next time. I have other tools that I use for dealing with stress rather than over-eat unhealthy foods. I have meditation, taking a warm soak in the bath by candlelight, going for a walk with my dogs, reading a good book while soft music plays in the background, and exercising strenuously to get out those bad feelings.


    Are you an emotional or stress over-eater? If so, what are some of the ways that you cope with stress rather than turning to food?



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    My Story...

    You can read about my decision to have weight loss surgery back in 2003 and my journey to maintain a lifetime of obesity disease management since that time. My wish is to help you on your own journey of lifetime obesity disease management with shareposts along the way to help you navigate that journey successfully.


Published On: August 30, 2011