Overcome Closet Eating After WLS

Overcome Closet Eating After WLS


Do you feel like people are watching
what food you put in your mouth, judging your food choices, maybe even
poking at you with unsolicited advice? It’s no wonder many of us become
closet eaters! It’s time to bust that door wide open discover you’ve got
nothing to be ashamed of and overcome the urge to hide. Do you ever hide food wrappers –
getting rid of the evidence so nobody knows about your indulgence Perhaps you order the healthiest thing on the menu when you’re out with friends only to be lured into the drive-thru for some greasy fries on the way home? Do you wait to eat things that maybe you shouldn’t when either no one’s looking or you’re
all by yourself? Check, check and check! I’ve been guilty of each of these
behaviors more times than I can count both before and after surgery. That’s
because I’m a closet eater. I have been since I was a little kid, but fortunately
I’ve finally discovered how to keep my closet eating urges at bay. I’m gonna
share that with you today. My foray into closet eating started
really young. I was pudgy by the time I hit first grade. There was rarely junk
food at home so I did what any clever sugar obsessed kid would do in my place:
I went to my friends houses after school to gorge on cookies and chips without my
parents knowledge. It was like snack food Wonderland and I loved it! Even though I
was an active kid I got bigger and bigger. My pediatrician recommended I
start my first formal diet in just third grade. I lost the excess weight in a
matter of months and life returned to normal – at least until the weight started
creeping back on. Other diets came and went from my daily routine until I
participated in a more extreme doctor supervised diet in sixth grade. I lost
weight fast. It was more than 30 pounds in all, which is a lot
for a kid. What’s really crazy is that I lost the last nine of those thirty
pounds in less than a week. You see, it was right before my big summer vacation. The last thing I wanted to do was be on a diet. No way was I gonna miss out on
Grandma Dorothy’s strawberry shortcake, cotton candy at Adventureland, or all the
other yummy things I knew would be there. to tempt me. So, in the week before my vacation I swam laps in the pool for a minimum of three
hours a day and ate even less than I was supposed to on my restricted diet – all to
make sure the scale hit the magic number that would put me on maintenance and
make it okay to indulge a little on vacation. The problem was I was hungry. I
mean really really hungry. So, here’s what I did. Shortly before going to my weigh in at the doctor’s office I snuck into the
kitchen and I made four I mean, count em, four baloney sandwiches on white bread
with tons of mayo and I wrapped em up in foil and then I also took a plastic
baggie and filled it with a bunch of dry roasted peanuts. I took that food and I
hid it in a chest in my room for later after my weigh-in. I stepped on
the scale for that big moment. SCORE! I had lost nine pounds. My doctor even had to pay me a dollar because he had bet me the prior week that it couldn’t be done.
I did my happy dance and I went home closed my bedroom door and I gorged on my bologna sandwiches and dry roasted peanuts. That is my first memory of a
carefully planned closet eating episode. Fortunately, I’ve learned a lot since
then. Hiding food is associated with shame. Catalysts to shame include dieting. In 1985 a study by two psychologists Polive and Herman discovered a link
between diets and binging. Essentially dietary restriction is typically
followed by a dietary abandon … a food frenzy so to speak. Subsequent studies
have found that this behavior is so common, so predictable, that experts
consider the link a given. Since we understand that binging is not
considered normal, acceptable behavior we typically do it in secret, right? Behind
closed doors. A second reason we eat in hiding is because of judgemental
people or as I like to call them the food police. You know who I’m talking
about, right? Are you allowed to eat that after weight loss surgery? That’s not a
very healthy choice? Girl, you’re gonna have to run on the treadmill for hours
to work that off. Eating that is irresponsible. You’re not setting a good
example for your kids. Blah, blah, blah. Jerks!
The third biggie is pressure to be thin. What a world! I mean, today you’re
supposed to balance unprecedented access to processed often unhealthy food with
unrealistic societal pressure to obtain the perfect body. I mean, don’t you know
we’re supposed to look as good as those airbrushed models? News flash: for most of us looking that perfect is not in the realm of possible. There are a lot more
catalysts to feeling ashamed of what you eat, but what’s more important is how the
heck are you supposed to stop sneaking food … in the shadows, all alone. The
truth is, it’s a process but with slow, steady changes over time you can come
out of the pantry and into the light … and get over the shame you associate with eating. Here are five tactics that helped me. 1. Decide to take control. Nothing will
change until you first make a decision – a decision that you are going to transform
the way you think about food as well as how you behave around it.
You’ve gotta mean it. Write it down. Consciously focus on one action you’re
gonna take every day in your effort to make this change.
That’s because focus steers movement towards your goal. Share your decision
with people who you know have your back. Because sharing means you’re out of the
shadows and more often than not it will feel like a huge burden has been lifted
off your chest. To change the script. Whether or not you’re conscious of it,
you’ve got internal dialog playing in your head. If you engage in closet eating
that script is probably something like. “Food is bad. I’m a loser when I make poor food choices. I can’t control my eating. I’m hungry all the time. I’m obsessed
with food.” Etc, etc, etc. Every morning, say three positive things about your
relationship with food out loud. Plus, any time you notice the old scripts starting
to creep back into your head – the ones that feed feelings of shame – interrupt
them. Replace that negative self-talk with a positive script such as, “I’m a
healthy eater. Food fuels my body so that I can live a fuller life.” 3. Set
boundaries. When we feel shame, it’s not uncommon to cower to criticism … to just
sit there and take it. Well, no more! The next time the food police show up,
take a stand. You don’t have to be a jerk about it. Lust say something like, “Listen,
you’re probably commenting on my eating because you care and I appreciate that
you care. But, the truth is this approach is not helpful to my success. I ask that
you stop with the questions and suggestions about my eating. I’d
appreciate your cooperation on this, but know this: From this day forward I’m
going to get up and walk away any time you engage in this behavior.”
Bluntness like that is kind of hard to ignore, right? 4. Block triggers. Numerous
studies show that stress triggers food cravings and eating. If you’re not
mindful of your major stress triggers start journaling so you can create
awareness and find ways to avoid these triggers. Or, try tactics known to lower
your stress hormone, cortisol. Did you know that both massages and black tea
are known to reduce cortisol? And, some studies found that black tea can reduce
food cravings by forty-seven percent. Another option … get deep breathing or
meditation or whirl. 5. Don’t beat yourself up. Overcoming closet eating is a process. You might slip up. If that happens don’t sweat it. Immediately
forgive yourself and move on. Beating yourself up will only exacerbate the
feelings of shame that lead to closet eating in the first place. To recap … take
control, change your internal dialog, set boundaries, block triggers, don’t beat
yourself up. More importantly, don’t ever give up! You can do this, my friend! Until next time, live with purpose, live with courage
live with delight!

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