how to overcome emotional eating after bariatric surgery
Food Addiction
Tips to Overcome Emotional Eating after Bariatric Surgery

Emotional eating after bariatric surgery is a common problem, especially in individuals who struggle with food addiction. Many research studies have found the link between emotions and binging on unhealthy, fatty foods. 

One study reported that 27% of adults stress eat, and 34% of those individuals have created a habit out of this behavior. And after engaging in these behaviors, 49% of adults feel disappointed and ashamed. 

Emotional Eating after Bariatric Surgery

Stress is how our bodies respond when we feel threatened or under pressure. Our bodies deal with physical, mental, and/or emotional stress, whether internal or external. Everyone has experienced stress before, whether acute (occurs within a few minutes or few hours of an event) or chronic (lasts for an extended period or keeps coming back). 

Although stress can be a trigger that results in engaging in mindless binge eating, other emotions can also lead to overeating. 

  • Excitement or celebration 
  • Boredom 
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Social Pressure 
  • Habits

Steps to Avoid Emotional Eating after Bariatric Surgery 

Here are some tips if you're a stress/emotional eater and want to stop that habit. 

1. Identify your Feelings

When you find yourself seeking food when it is not your planned eating time, ask yourself, "What am I feeling?" Identify an emotion that you are experiencing at the time (mad, sad, lonely, frustrated, anxious, etc.)

2. Identify your Emotional Need

Identify your emotional need by asking: "What is this feeling telling me I need?" For example,

  • "I'm feeling lonely. I need companionship."
  • "I'm feeling angry. I need to release some energy."
  • "I'm feeling unimportant. I need acknowledgment."
  • "I'm feeling insecure. I need validation."

3. Identify Healthy Coping Skills

Identify healthy coping skills for getting your emotional needs met. You can do an internet search for healthy coping skills, and you will find hundreds of suggestions. Keep a list of the healthy coping skills that best fit your lifestyle and personality.

4. Review your Coping Skills

When you have done steps one and two, look at the list of healthy coping skills and do one or more of those things until your emotions settle down and you are better able to reason. At that point, you will realize that eating unhealthy, unwanted, and unnecessary calories is not something you want to do.

Other Tips to Overcome Emotional Eating

Naturally, you want to keep your environment free of foods that could sabotage your healthy efforts after bariatric surgery. Here are some tips:

  1. Keep unhealthy foods out of your home, your car, and your office
  2. Set boundaries for yourself and stick with them
  3. Tell yourself fast food is not an option for you
  4. Refuse to allow food in your car, bedroom, or where you watch television or read (places of boredom)

Finally, refuse to let stress or emotions be an excuse for eating foods that will steer you away from your goals of living at a healthy weight and having a renewed quality of life. 

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Mental Health Guide
A guide to boosting your mental health before and after bariatric surgery.
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Casey Blaney
Casey is the Chief Operating Officer of Bariatric Centers of America, where she oversees client relations and manages the bariatric playbook for program acceleration. Casey graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a major in Business Operations and built her career in marketing and business management. Within her career, she has had the opportunity to accelerate bariatric programs through technology-driven services and solutions. She brings an innovative approach to scaling bariatric programs and providing valuable resources in the field of weight loss surgery and weight management.
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