You’ve probably heard, “It isn’t what you’re eating; it’s what’s eating you that makes you overweight,” and that’s true. I work with people who struggle at maintaining their weight loss after weight loss surgery. They admit readily that losing weight isn’t the problem. The problem is keeping it off. Weight management is difficult because people eat for all sorts of reasons other than being hungry. You may find yourself eating as a form of stress release due to problems with in-laws, husbands, wives, children, pets, jobs (or lack of jobs), loneliness, boredom, and many more.
You cannot control your weight until you learn to control those “fat thoughts” going on in your mind. Life happens and the same stressors that plagued you before your weight loss will continue after. Therefore, the only way to get more in control of the weight is to get more comfortable with the situations that cause stress, and learn how to handle them differently. This is the lifestyle change that we talk about endlessly after weight loss surgery. How do you learn to handle your chaotic and sometimes difficult life? You start by breaking it down and handling your reaction to stress one moment at a time.
- Before you put food in your mouth ask yourself, “What is this food going to do for me?”
- Part of stopping an unhealthy habit is to manage the stressors that happen before you reach for food. That means you have to pause and breathe when you feel an emotion before you begin eating. For example, readjusting your attitude by pausing before you react by eating because your kids spilled something and you feel overwhelmed, or pause and breathe before you reach for a bag of chips to make you feel better when you are alone watching TV, or pause and breathe before you scoop from an ice cream container feeling angry at your mother who is always commenting on your weight. The pause and breath helps break the impulse to eat mindlessly.
- Move away from food while using your pause. Call a friend, write in a journal, take your child outside and walk, or get involved with a home project you keep putting off.
- When you are feeling lonely, abandoned or sad, and those chips or dessert are calling your name, have a list ready made of people you can do something for. Doing for someone else makes us feel good and less alone.
- Have a prayer or mediation memorized that you can repeat to yourself when you need reinforcement and calming…don’t rely on food for these comforts.
Feel like you can’t? Feel like food has you under its control? Breaking the habit of using food to manage unpleasant feelings can be overcome. Getting clear about what’s eating you is a step in the right direction.