After a long, stressful day of errands, chaos at the office and arguments in your household, a bowl of ice cream can seem like the best place to find some peace. Some of us are also boredom eaters, passing the time by finding morsels to munch on. Whether you eat out of stress, boredom, sadness, loneliness or even excitement, this kind of behavior is called emotional eating, and it’s something you’ll need to learn to control after weight loss surgery.
Emotional eating is a habit that leads many of us to weight gain. It’s a form of overeating that causes us to search for snacks when we aren’t physically hungry, using them to appease our emotions instead of our rumbling stomachs. At the end of the day, the extra calories of these snacking habits can add up, slowing down weight loss after surgery.
Are You Feeding Your Emotions?
It is not hard to figure out when you are feeding your feelings. Before you reach for a snack, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you physically hungry right now?
- Are you feeling stressed, lonely or otherwise upset, and is that emotion triggering your desire to eat?
- Are you hungry because you are bored?
- Are you looking at food as a reward?
- Do you expect your snack to make you feel different emotionally?
- Is this a scheduled snack?
To stop emotional eating you have to become more aware of what and why you are eating. This means asking yourself why you are choosing to eat before taking your first bite. Every time you reach for a snack, linger in your kitchen or pull up to a drive-thru window, you need to ask yourself why you are turning to food right now. If the answer is anything but hunger, it is not time to eat.
After weight loss surgery, you won’t experience hunger as often as you did before. Your meals will be small and you’ll feel full for several hours between them. Mindless, emotional snacking when you aren’t hungry can interfere with the weight loss process even after surgery. Eating too frequently or snacking when you aren’t hungry can cause you to regain weight, so be careful.
Instead of trying to bury your emotions in food, let yourself feel your emotions fully. Accept how you feel and think of other, more constructive ways to cope with those emotions. This might include journaling, talking with a loved one or counselor or exercising to manage stress. Whatever you do, it is time to put your emotional eating habit to rest.