Food Cravings & Eating Habits

Why Weight Loss Programs and Surgeries Fail

Why do most weight management programs and weight loss surgeries fail? 

Because many of the cravings and habits around food people are trying to control are emotional, totally unrelated to physiological hunger. In fact,~50% of patients in gastric bypass operations put the weight back on within 2 years of surgery (see Magro). Weight Loss Surgery can’t manage emotional hunger. 

Often, it is our bodies, that reveal the story we don’t want to voice. Too much, too little.  

What Science Says about Weight Loss

Emotional regulation plays a critical role in food consumption. High-caloric, highly palatable foods, the largest players in gaining weight (think donuts, deserts, pizza), also have the strongest effect on alleviating negative mood states in most contexts and activate the addiction parts in your brain.-Levitan Individuals are more likely to make better food choices when they possess high levels of emotional ability (are better able to manage emotions) as well as high levels of confidence in those abilities.

Applying What We Know About Weight Loss

Feeding the stomach will never nourish the heart. Becoming in touch with the emotions that manifest themselves on our plate is often messy and uncomfortable. When we begin to stay with this discomfort, true mindfulness and growth can emerge.

We must be willing to turn toward what we most fear, to stay in our body, and to listen deeply to our emotions. Meet all of your thoughts. The messy, the dark, the shameful ones (or what I would call “the challenging ones for us to feel”). Invite your emotions in and observe them. When shame, loneliness, anxiety, and depression come to your door, invite them in, ask what message they are trying to send, and honor that sometimes you will feel crummy and that’s perfectly okay.

  • While many people turn to dieting as their first step of action in weight management, try to look at your emotions first. Practice sitting with them in your mind and writing down these experiences when you can. 
  • Begin to write down and notice if any specific “emotion” is related to the foods you eat, and how much (whether too much or too little). Take note of any patterns that arise. The next few sections will cover some of the more common patterns for people. 
  • Try to remember that emotions are not our enemy. They are messages, protectors, and guided by our brain which – yes, it lies to us FOR us. Our brains tell us lies to protect us, our emotions come out to send us messages about life – and whether they are accurate, tracing and observing them can help us understand what belief systems are holding us back from not only eating healthy, but from being our true selves. 

Questions? I’d be happy to answer them via email here or give me a call at (316) 201-6047.

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