When Foods Equals Love: Distinguishing the Food from the Feeling

Senior woman having video call with a trainer online before a Pilates workout

You’ve had bariatric surgery, achieved significant weight loss, and improved your overall physical health.  Congratulations on taking the first step on this life-changing journey.  While the procedure may seem the ultimate solution in combatting issues with overeating and resultant weight gain, for many it is only the beginning.

After a bariatric procedure, clients may face emotional and psychological challenges, especially when food has been a source of comfort and love throughout their lives. It is at this stage that redefining our relationship with food becomes crucial to the healing process. Post-bariatric counseling has been proven to assist in recognizing how we approach nourishment to feed our bodies and souls and how to make better decisions post-recovery. 

Food is often emotionally charged. For many, it is a symbol of love, security, celebration, and comfort. It is a reward, a happy memory, and a warm hug in times of sadness.  For some, however, it becomes a chain, and breaking the negative bond can be extremely challenging. For those who have undergone bariatric surgery and perhaps struggled with emotional eating for years, it can seem an impossible feat. Counseling plays a vital role in understanding these complex emotions, distinguishing the food from the feeling, and navigating the path to whole body health.

Post-bariatric surgery clients with a history of emotional eating often continue to struggle even as the weight is coming off. Counseling sessions provide a safe space to explore the unhealthy motivators and root causes of disordered eating.  With the guidance of a qualified therapist, clients learn to recognize triggers, develop coping skills, and discover alternative ways to address emotional needs so they need not turn to food for comfort.

Self-worth is often interwoven with physical appearance and, consequently, weight gain or loss. Counseling after bariatric surgery focuses on redefining an individual’s self-worth beyond their physical attributes. It assists in developing confidence, self-love, and a positive body image, leading to a healthier mindset that extends beyond the number on the scale. 

Food often plays a central role in social gatherings and celebrations. Bariatric surgery requires a shift in eating habits, and these adjustments can effect relationships, sometimes negatively. In addition, post-bariatric surgery clients may feel a sense of loss when traditional food-centered rituals change. Therapy assists in finding ways to address these shifts and changes and the impact they may on the family unit.  Addressing potential issues before they arise and promoting strong support systems ensures a smoother transition post-surgery as well as understanding within one’s home and social circles.  Further, with counseling, individuals are better able to explore and create new rituals that focus on connection and celebration without relying on food as the centerpiece. 

Utilizing tools such as nutrition education, mindful eating practices, and information on balanced approaches to nourishment, counselors work with post-bariatric surgery clients to establish a healthy and sustainable relationship with food. By understanding the nutritional needs of their transformed bodies, individuals learn how to make informed choices that contribute to long-term well-being. 

In closing, post-bariatric surgery counseling is a vital component of the overall healing process. In a world where food is often equated with love, comfort, and connection, the role of a qualified therapist is pivotal in helping individuals navigate the emotional aspect of surgery. By addressing emotional eating, redefining self-worth, creating new rituals, and building a healthy relationship with food, counseling empowers individuals to embrace their transformed selves and lead fulfilling, healthy lives.

Share the Post: