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Bariatric Surgery/Compulsive eating


I had gastric bypass surgery 8 years ago.  I started at 254 pounds, and currently weigh 157.

The surgery has been a miracle for me, in that I cannot overeat or it is painful, so I don't eat too much.

However, I am a diabetic and recently I've had problems with compulsive nibbling.  All day, every day.  I don't eat anything big, just frequent snacks.  My weight has remained stable, but my blood sugar is out of control.

I'm trying to figure out how to stop.  I tried "just say no" but apparently I can't say no.  I'm going to end up back on insulin if I don't figure out how to quit eating.

Hi Susan,

First of all congratulations to you for maintaining your weight loss!!!
In terms of your compulsive nibbling some things to think about: sometimes when you  tell yourself “no” it actually makes it more difficult to refrain from doing what it is you want to stop.  So saying “don’t snack” is like saying “don’t think of an elephant “ (bet you just pictured an elephant in your mind ;D).  What you focus on you will manifest: it is important to focus on what it is you do want as opposed to what you do not want.  Every time you think about how you don’t want to eat let that be a signal to think about what you do want: “I eat for good health and good energy; I love to eat healthy life affirming foods, I treat my body with love and respect, etc.”  When you are 'compulsively snacking' you are most likely not breathing deeply and fully.  Often when people engage in  a compulsive behavior they are either holding their breath or their breaths are quick and shallow. Before you put anything in your mouth take a long deep breath in, then exhale completely.  Repeat this 2 more times.  Then ask yourself how you will feel physically, mentally, and emotionally 30 minutes after you eat that food.  Is it worth the consequences? If you find you want to eat and you are not physically hungry and/or it is not time for you to eat  ask yourself what you would be doing if you weren’t thinking about food, what is this stopping you from being present to, what were you just doing?  If you are eating in response to uncomfortable feelings this will help you identify external over/compulsive eating triggers.  It would be a good idea to meet with a nutritionist familiar with weight loss surgery who can give you suggestions for eating in a way that will not physically trigger you to want to eat more, (i.e. high protein, lower carb) and  can support you with getting back to eating in a way that facilitates good health and energy. If you continue to struggle to gain control of your eating behaviors go to a weight loss surgery support group or meet with a counselor  experienced in working with issues regarding compulsive eating.  Above all be kind and gentle with you.  Food is not good or bad or right or wrong; it just has consequences in your body and you are not good or bad or right or wrong because of what you did or did not eat. Know that you can eat whatever you want. You  just have to decide if what you are about to eat is worth the consequences.

I hope this is helpful.  If you have any other questions or comments please do not hesitate to contact me.
Warm Regards,

Louisa Latela

Bariatric Surgery

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Louisa Latela, MSW,LCSW


I can answer questions related to emotional eating.


I have been working with persons struggling with food/body/weight issues for nearly 2 decades. I assist people in understanding the role compulsive eating and excess weight has played in their lives, developing new self-nurturing living skills, and learning to see themselves through kind and compassionate eyes. I facilitate a support group for persons who have had weight loss surgery and are at least 10 months post-op. I also run an in-person and telephone support group for anyone struggling to gain control of compulsive eating behaviors (for more information you can visit my website I am also a My Self Design Program provider ( I speak to Bariatric Support Groups throughout the tri-state area.

National Association of Social Workers Alph Delta Mu: National Social Work Honor Society Academy for Eating Disorders

I have a column in WLS Lifestyles Magazine: Soulful Living I am an expert blogger for and I have also had articles published in Beyond Change I've written an e-workbook Live Your Highest Good: Make Peace With your Body and Food. (

Masters of Social Work from Rutgers University

Awards and Honors
Recognized by Philadelphia Magazine as a "Top Doc for Women in Eating Disorders".

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