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Bariatric Surgery/Emotional Eating

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Question
This is new to me but maybe this is what I do.. I would like to know what entails emotional eating? I eat when I'm happy, and everything else. About the only time I don't eat is when I'm sick. But I thought it was habit because I eat when I'm bored even if I'm not hungry. So whatcha think? Is there some advice you can give me on how to deal with it? Thank you very much ;)

Answer
Hi Belinda,

Emotional eating is when you eat in response to feelings other than physical hunger i.e.anger, sadness, frustration, boredom, happiness, etc. Sounds like you are aware that you do some emotional eating, and that it has also become "habit" like you indicated.

It is not terrible to eat once in a while in response to some uncomfortable feelings, or as a way to celebrate with friends and family.  However, if it is your primary way of dealing with feelings and/or if your eating style is negatively affecting your health, then it would be in your best interest to put  some time and attention into identifying your overeating triggers and learn new, self-nurtuing ways of responding to such triggers.

You must first be aware of your triggers/behaviors  before you can make different choices.   You indicated that your eating style is habituated which suggests that you often eat mindlessly. So before you put anything in your mouth take 2 or 3 DEEP BREATHS.  By taking a deep breath before you put anything in your mouth it will bring you back to  the present moment and give you the opportunity to be conscious of your eating behaviors.  

After you take the deep breaths check in with your body and determine if you are physically hungry.  If you are not physically hungry, then don't eat!  Sometimes this awareness is all you need to stop eating in response to feelings other than physical hunger.

However, If you have determined that you are not physically hungry, but find it uncomfortable to not eat then ask yourself 1."What kind of nurturing do I need right now? ( I believe that over/emotional eating on some level is an attempt to self nurture)  2. If I wasn't thinking about food, what would I be doing; what is this stopping me from being present to?  3. How will I feel 30 minutes after I eat this food: physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually?  4. Will eating this food support my intention for my life ( i.e to be healthy, happy,live a life that is reflective of self love and respect.)  5. Why am I feeling anxious at the thought of not eating this food right now?"

If you find it difficult to respond differently to your feelings you may want to seek some outside support (read books on emotional eating, individual/group counseling, etc.).  Because we experience our life through our bodies, every single thing you put in your  mouth directly affects your physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional health. By choosing to eat more consciously you are taking responsibility for how you experience your life:  you are on your way to reclaiming your power over food and living a joy-filled abundant life!

I hope this is helpful as you begin your journey of self exploration via your relationship with food. If you have any other questions or comments do not hesitate to contact me!

Warm Reagards,

Louisa

www.liveyourhighestgood.com  

Bariatric Surgery

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Louisa Latela, MSW,LCSW

Expertise

I can answer questions related to emotional eating.

Experience

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 www.louisalatela.com) I am also a My Self Design Program provider (www.myselfdesign.com). I speak to Bariatric Support Groups throughout the tri-state area.

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

Publications
I have a column in WLS Lifestyles Magazine: Soulful Living I am an expert blogger for www.lapbandtalk.com and www.wlslifestyles.com 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. (www.liveyourhighestgood.com)

Education/Credentials
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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