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Food Freedom after Bariatric Surgery

“Dieting” sounds so … restrictive. Most people, when they “go on a diet” describe feeling deprived.

You’ve probably been taught somewhere along the road that your thoughts lead to feelings and together, thoughts and feelings influence behavior. If a person is thinking about what foods they are banned from, and feel restricted and deprived, and perhaps angry, they sometimes “act out” or rebel by eating those forbidden delicacies.

Is food controlling your life, too?

Danielle loves sweet baked goods. She especially loves cupcakes, noting the mini ones that have twice as much frosting as cake are her “favorite food on the planet.” When she goes “on a diet” it doesn’t bother her to give up every other sweet treat. But going without a mini cupcake leaves her feeling “bitter and angry.” She reports, “I hate being told what I can and can’t do. I’m an adult and when it seems my life is being dictated, I tend to rebel.” Her anger and resentment at being restricted, lead to the sneaking of the coveted cupcakes.

Other people, when they feel that a certain food is forbidden, wonder how they will deal with stress or frustration without the food that helps soothe them. Raymond shared that when he is upset at work, he finds himself grabbing a bag of chips. “I guess the crunchy food makes me feel like I’m working through my irritability. It scares me to think that I can’t have these snacks if I go on a diet. The truth is, I haven’t gone on a diet for a long time because I’ve used chips for so many years to deal with the frustration I encounter at work that I don’t know how I would act without them. My job is stressful, and I’m constantly annoyed with co-workers, contractors, and associates.”

Both Danielle and Raymond feel controlled by the food they desire. This is not a way to live a healthy life and it especially will not lead to weight loss. Learning to eat the food you love in moderation is an essential part of developing a healthy relationship with food and experiencing food freedom.

So what is food freedom?

Let’s talk about food freedom and how you can make food freedom a reality in your life. Food freedom allows you more choice in how you make eating decisions. Having food freedom leads to more positive thinking, which of course, leads to more pleasant feelings and ultimately to more healthy food choices.

Food freedom can mean, and lead to, many things, including:

  • recognizing that all foods are options for you if you decide you want them
  • giving yourself permission to say “not now” to any food, even the ones you typically “crave”
  • allowing you to feel more in control of the decisions you make where food is concerned
  • increasing your self-efficacy (your belief in your abilities) in regard to making healthy food choices
  • letting go of the need to “rebel” with food
  • accepting responsibility for all of your food choices
  • learning and using the tools that work best for you in your journey toward improved health and a better quality of life

Just an example of how food freedom can impact a life.

Danielle has discovered that food freedom has given her to confidence to know that she is charge of her food choices. She no longer goes “on a diet.” As a result, she doesn’t feel deprived and does not have to restrict any food, not even the mini cupcakes she used to hide and eat. “Since I have learned to have freedom from food, meaning a “diet” no longer determines what I can and cannot eat, I often choose to forego sweet treats, even those amazing mini cupcakes and all that icing!”

Raymond uses food freedom in a different way. He decided that he needed to learn healthier ways to deal with his daily frustrations. He read a lot about coping skills, relaxation tools, and assertive communication. He decided that food freedom for him meant getting rid of all crunchy chips. He feels much more freedom from food now and is more conscious of using more appropriate methods of dealing with stress.

What else does food freedom look like? And how can you apply it to your life?

Follow this blog series and you’ll find out! Until next time, consider what food freedom might mean to you! And let me know so I can use some great examples in next month’s blog post. Thanks!