For many people, food can become a coping mechanism and a way to self sooth or comfort themselves. After weight loss surgery the ability to use food in this manner is disrupted due to the smaller portions and in some cases food intolerances. Developing alternative and healthy coping skills is an imperative step after weigh loss surgery.
Obesity is a multifactorial process that has many contributing aspects. Although, obesity is not entirely the result of poor eating behavior, and lack of exercise. After weight loss surgery, we should appreciate the importance of healthy dietary choices; being sure that volume and frequency is not driven by emotion or emotional eating.
The mental aspect of weight loss surgery should not be ignored. Developing healthy coping skills can be a large part of dealing with the changes that take place. Some people go through a mourning period for the loss of the foods that once gave them comfort, made them part of a group, or the feeling of their best friend. In some cases, there may be a need to seek the assistance of a mental health care provider to be able to work through some of the issues and feelings. Never hesitate or be afraid of contact a mental health care professional.
Learning and practicing effective coping/soothing techniques can be started prior to weight loss surgery. The following are some coping skills that can be effective for some to adopt into their daily lives.
1. Nature – Get out into the great outdoors and into the sunlight. The sounds and sights of nature have a way of energizing the body and calming the mind. Sunlight is excellent for increasing Vitamin D levels which can help elevate mood and general well being.
2. Exercise – The mental and physical effects of exercise are paramount after weight loss surgery. The natural chemical release from exercise is a calming effect and gives a sense of well-being. In addition, the physical aspects of increase weight loss and change in body contour have positive mental and emotional effects.
3. Music- There are many research articles regarding the positive effects on both metal and physical aspects of music. Music has a way of soothing or energizing the soul. Turn up loud or keep it soft. Sing along. Dance it out if you need to.
4. Journaling – We always suggest to people prior to weight loss surgery to start journaling. It can give you perspective when you look back at entries. We also suggest to journal body measurements, pictures, and weights so that you might look back at how far you’ve come from your starting point.
5. Mindfulness – Using all five sense to experience life and food. Take your time to take everything in and experience the full effect. Be present in all life experiences. Ask yourself: Am I enjoying this? Does this feel like what I need? Is this getting me to where I want to be? Is this healthy for me?
6. Support groups of peers- There is nothing like having a group of people who have been there or know exactly how you may be feeling to be able to talk, share or vent. There are so many support groups that can be taken advantage of in either face to face or cyber groups.
7. Treat yourself- Treat yourself and practice self-care by doing something that you find relaxing, gratifying or energizing. Massage, manicure, an outfit, shoes, an outing, or a class.
8. Distraction- Hobbies, new skills, reading, games, bubble bath, or anything that get you out of the same mental spot can help with calming and soothing.
9. Talking- There is great value in having a close friend or trusted therapist to be a sounding board and give you an opportunity to unload some of the challenges you’ve been carrying.
Changing habits and coping skills takes practice and patience. It is not something that is easily changed over night. Focus on small steps, goals and achievements. Give yourself time and credit for the accomplishments that you’ve made. Always look at how far you have come and the positive lifestyle changes you’ve made. There may be set backs but don’t beat yourself up about it, move on and continue to take steps toward your goal.