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Gaining control over emotional eating

May 1, 2020

When you’re upset or stressed, do you find yourself over-eating or eating unhealthy foods? Maybe when you’re happy you give yourself a treat by enjoying a sugary coffee drink. When it’s a tough Monday, you allow yourself an extra slice of pizza. When you’re celebrating and drinking with your friends, you decide to indulge in fast food. If your emotions completely rule how you eat, it may be time to take a step back and learn how to separate physical hunger from emotional hunger.

Emotional eating is a coping mechanism, and not a very good one. While it is a bad habit, it doesn’t mean that you yourself are bad. How can you learn to separate physical hunger from emotional hunger? There are some clear differences. Emotional hunger comes on suddenly, and it’s typically based upon what is going through your head. The craving is usually for a very specific food. This is followed by absent-minded eating, the inability to stop when full, and feelings of immense guilt once you’re finished eating. Physical hunger, on the other hand, comes on gradually and the cravings are for a variety of different foods. It stems from a physical, rather than emotional, need. Deliberate choices are made when eating and you stop when you feel full. Do you see the difference? Eating is a necessary part of life. We eat to fulfill a physical need—to sustain us and power our bodies. Emotional eating is used to fix an emotional problem, and it often makes you feel worse.

You can ask yourself a list of questions to find out if emotional eating has a hold on you. Once you’ve established the problem, it’s time to identify your cycle and determine which emotions trigger you. Is it anger? Sadness? Boredom? What foods make you feel better in the moment? How do you feel when you finish eating? You may notice that your emotional eating is driven by childhood patterns or social settings.

Emotional eating may make you feel powerless, but once you’ve established the difference between emotional and physical hunger and you understand your triggers, you can take the power back. It’s all about practicing self-awareness and finding healthy coping mechanisms. When you encounter negative emotions, acknowledge the emotions and try to work through them. If you aren’t ready to work through your negative feelings, what other sorts of ways can you feed your emotions rather than overeating? Talk with a friend, go for a walk, play with your dog—distract yourself with a healthy activity until you’re ready to deal with your emotions. Refrain from distracting yourself with food. Track your behaviors in an emotional eating diary. When you feel compelled to reach for comfort food, stop, think, and write about it. What do you want to eat? How do you feel? How will the food make you feel after you consume it? Will this craving still be there in five minutes?

Remember to practice kindness with yourself throughout this process. It’s okay to have negative feelings sometimes, and it is okay if you are unable to stop your cravings once in a while. Do not punish yourself. Learn to accept your feelings and eat mindfully. Aim for progress, not perfection. You have more willpower than you think.

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Important Lap-Band® System Safety Information

The Lap-Band System is indicated for weight reduction for patients with obesity, with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of at least 40 kg/m2 or a BMI of at least 30 kg/m2 with one or more obesity-related comorbid conditions. It is indicated for use only in adult patients who have failed more conservative weight reduction alternatives, such as supervised diet, exercise and behavior modification programs. Patients who elect to have this surgery must make the commitment to accept significant changes in their eating habits for the rest of their lives.

The Lap-Band System is not recommended for non-adult patients (patients under 18 years of age), patients with conditions that may make them poor surgical candidates or increase the risk of poor results, who are unwilling or unable to comply with the required dietary restrictions, or who currently are or may be pregnant.

The Lap-Band System is a long-term implant. Explant and replacement surgery may be required. Patients who become pregnant or severely ill, or who require more extensive nutrition may require deflation of their bands. Anti-inflammatory agents, such as aspirin, should be used with caution and may contribute to an increased risk of band erosion.

Placement of the Lap-Band System is major surgery and, as with any surgery, death can occur. Possible complications include the risks associated with the medications and methods used during surgery, the risks associated with any surgical procedure, and the patient’s ability to tolerate a foreign object implanted in the body. Most common related adverse events include: Band slippage, pouch dilation, stoma obstruction, gastroesophageal reflux, esophageal dilation, cholelithiasis, incisional infection, abdominal pain, gastroenteritis, or nausea and vomiting may occur. Reoperation may be required. Rapid weight loss may result in complications that may require additional surgery. Deflation of the band may alleviate excessively rapid weight loss or esophageal dilation.

Important: For full safety information please click here or talk with your doctor.