Controlling Emotional Eating after Weight Loss

My Bariatric Life Health Guide
  • More than a decade ago when I had my gastric bypass, my bariatric surgeon told me "I do the surgery. The rest is up to you." I was on my own, with no training on what it meant to eat healthy. Everything thing I know today has been self taught.
    Fortunately, unlike when I had my weight loss surgery in 2003, we now have bariatric dieticians like Lori Rosenthal to help us transform our eating habits from unhealthy to healthy. In this sharepost series, we examine the healthy behaviors post bariatric patients need to develop in order to be successful with long term weight loss. Read the first post in this series, "Keep the Weight Off for Life!
    Lori Rosenthal
    Lori Rosenthal, MS, RD, CDN is a bariatric dietitian at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York. She provides individual nutritional counseling for weight management, focusing on dietary and lifestyle modifications needed to promote successful, sustainable weight loss before and after weight loss surgery. Follow Lori on Twitter @LoRoRD. 


    Emotional Eating

     

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    My Bariatric Life: What role do emotions play in the weight gain / weight loss cycle? How does a post Bariatric patient change her emotional relationship with food?

     

    Lori Rosenthal: Emotional eating is a very common issue. This is the use of food to sooth our emotions. We collapse food and emotions together starting when we are very young. We fall down and are handed a lollipop. We have a break up and someone gives us ice cream. The truth is that sad doesn't equal cookie and cookie doesn't equal sad. Food is our fuel, not a security blanket.

     

    It is important to find non-food related ways to cope with emotions prior to surgery - journaling, walking, talking to friends, etc. Soothing our emotions with food often leaves us feeling worse, which can lead to a vicious cycle: eating, feeling guilty/worse, eating more, etc. Post-operatively, emotional eating can result in a lack of weight loss, weight regain and even health complications. 

     

    My Bariatric Life: What does a healthy relationship with food look like?

     

    Lori Rosenthal: A healthy relationship with food is one where we eat to fuel our body when we need to, consume foods that help our body run smoothly and enjoy what we are having. There are always going to be temptations. The trick is to find healthy foods and drinks that we truly enjoy. We want to be choosing foods because we like them, not because we are on a "diet". When we feel restricted or deprived we wind up going right back to our unhealthy ways.  

     

    My Bariatric Life: What does "eating healthy" really mean?

     

    Lori Rosenthal: When people hear “eating healthy” or “diet” they immediately think of restriction and deprivation. “Diet” did not always have this meaning. We have turned it into a dirty four letter word over the years. Our diet is simply what we eat.

     

    Eating a healthy diet means consuming what our body needs to function at an optimal level and reduce risk of disease. This entails eating a balance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats that meets, but does not exceed our nutritional needs. A healthy diet does not contain excessive sodium, sugar, fat or processed foods. 

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    My Bariatric Life: What is the trick to avoiding temptation?

     

    Lori Rosenthal: Take temptation out of the equation at home by not keeping unhealthy food in your house. If you don't own it, you can't eat it. This is especially important when it comes to "trigger foods," those that we have difficulty controlling ourselves around. 


    It is very important to remember why you started this journey and use that as a motivator to stay strong when temptations arise. You need to want it badly enough to have successful, sustainable weight loss for life. 

     

    Up next: Support is Key to Maintaining Weight Loss

     

    Living life well-fed,

    My Bariatric Life

     

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Published On: May 14, 2014