Breaking the Cycle of Emotional Eating

For many people, emotional eating is at the root of their struggle with obesity. They eat when they are sad, lonely, bored, or under stress. Using food as a way to quell difficult emotions may provide short-term solace, but the long-term physical and psychological effects can be devastating.

In this educational segment, Chrystyna Senkel, a Bariatric Physician Assistant, shares several strategies to break the cycle of emotional eating.

Transcript below video player

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.


Emotional eating will impact obesity in the sense that people may feel when life happens around them, when situations occur — someone dies, financial stresses, illness, that kind of thing — that people feel a loss of control and they begin to feel unrest internally. If one has learned in the past that when I eat, I feel better — I feel calm, I feel comfort — naturally, they are going to gravitate that direction again to once again feel that sense of comfort.

There are other things that people can learn to do, other ways to direct that attention, such as knitting, such as doing a crossword or going for a walk. I know those are kind of silly things, but it’s just a way of taking that energy that feels unrested and going to do something else. If patients can learn other ways to nourish themselves, such as motivational literature, spiritual literature, time in prayer and meditation, talking with a trusted friend, getting into therapy to learn how to set boundaries in their lives or doing some coping skills and stress management techniques, that can all assist people for when those times happen. Just because we’ve had weight loss surgery doesn’t mean that life is not going to happen around us. It’s still going to happen. It may seem cool and wonderful and fine for a year, and then whammo, the ball drops — as it always does in life. So, it’s important to learn those things and have different ways to cope.