Rethinking dieting and your relationship with food

Charles Schmittdiel, Ph.D., Erlanger Behavioral Health 
Posted on October 9, 2017
relationship with food

Most people have problems staying on traditional diets. While following a new nutrition plan can be difficult for anyone, sometimes the problem lies in the underlying meaning that most of us attach to the word “diet.” For most people, a diet really means self-deprivation. And no matter how self-disciplined you are it is hard to deprive yourself of desired things forever. One common reason a successful diet may end is that after reaching the planned weight loss goal, people often give themselves permission to begin  eating the foods they did not allow themselves while trying to lose weight, which contributes to weight re-gain.

If you are thinking about your long-term, post-surgical nutrition plan in the same way as past weight loss attempts, it will probably be difficult to stay on track.

Bariatric patients are encouraged to re-think their eating and nutrition issues in ways that are more positive and more likely to help staying on plan. Examples include: “eating to live, rather than living to eat,” “healthy eating,” “heart-healthy eating,” or a “healthy lifestyle,” etc. Thinking about healthy eating as a way to teach better health behaviors to your family is also a good way to change the way you think about eating.

It is also very helpful to work on changing your personal relationship with food. Taking stock of what role food has played in your life can be very helpful because many of those food relationship issues will need to change after bariatric surgery. If food has been your friend and a form of emotional comfort, a way to express affection to others, or a way of making positive connections with others, you may experience a sense of loss and grief about those issues after bariatric surgery.

For some people, food relationships are very powerful and they can be caught off guard with a sense of loss that goes with no longer being able to eat in ways that previously met important personal needs, and in some cases can result in a sense of “buyer’s remorse” about having had the surgery.  If these types of food relationship issues have been true for you, you may want to begin working now on finding other ways to deal with these types of needs that don’t involve food.

Learn more and find support with Erlanger’s Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Center.

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