Melissa Bailey Arizpe, Psy.D.

Archive for April, 2010|Monthly archive page

The Art of Chewing

In Uncategorized on April 28, 2010 at 2:41 pm

One of the things that I often tell patients before surgery is that they really need to slow down their eating and CHEW their food.  This, amazingly, is harder than it seems.   When was the last time that you really chewed up your food?  For myself, it is something that I have to work hard at—since I preach it.   I went through a drive-thru the other day and guess what, I didn’t realize that I wasn’t thoroughly chewing up my food until I had already taken several bites.  We are on the run so much that we often do not slow down to really chew our food and enjoy it.

There is actually more to slowing down our eating than just the doctors telling us to do it.  Eating slowing and chewing up your food actually produces a neurological reaction.  Your brain has a chance to register that you are eating and starting to fill-up your stomach.  When we do not chew or eat slowly, our brain and stomach do not have a chance to catch up, thus, causing us to not realize how much we have eaten before it is too late.  We overeat and feel completely stuffed.

So, some simple rules for eating.  Try and eat at a table.  Put your fork down between bites.  Chew each bite about 30 times—remember you are helping digestion along and telling your brain that you are eating.   Notice how the food tastes.  Notice the texture of the food.  Savor each bite.  Take a nice deep breath between bites.  Notice how your stomach feels.  That first slight feeling in your stomach probably means that you are full and do not need to eat anything else.  Start to become more aware of that feeling.   That is a signal to stop.  Your body does not need anymore than that.   If you are with someone, focus on the conversation.  Food is fuel.  Don’t overstuff the tank.

Remember, change is a process.  It is one step at a time for long lasting changes.

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Emotional Eating–Again

In Uncategorized on April 17, 2010 at 2:44 pm

Welcome back to the blog.  Sorry I have been away for so long.  I can’t believe that the weeks got away from me.  Recently, I did a support group talking about emotional eating.  Talk about a hot topic.  Participants in the support group were really talking about how “head hunger” gets in the way of success.   This is a topic that I often address with patients prior to surgery.  However, it seems that no matter how much we discuss it and say it might be a problem, patients say that they are prepared for it—until about week three after surgery.

Let’s face it.  The surgery is only part of the total weight loss surgery adventure.  The mental preparation that you make prior to surgery is extremely important and the follow-up with the surgeon and the other members of your support team are as well.   Eating is not just something we do to survive physically.  If that were the case, then we would not have a problem with keeping our body mass index within the “average” range.  Rather, we eat for a number of reasons.  We eat because it is someone’s birthday, because Aunt June made her famous cookies, because it is the office potluck, because it is Easter, or as one patient pointed out to me, because it is there.    After surgery it is extremely important to prepare yourself for all of the reasons that we eat.  If you don’t get yourself emotionally prepared to turn down that helping of mashed potatoes at the family get together, then you are going to hit a slippery slope of eating other things that are not good for you.

The best way to combat emotional eating is to have a plan. Plan for those obstacles that are going to get in the way of your goals.  If you know you are going to Grandma’s and you always have to eat some type of sweet there, then come up with a plan.  Do you just have a smaller portion?  Do you avoid it all together?  Do you change the subject when Grandma asks why you are not eating her famous apple pie?  Have a plan.  Involve your significant other or support system to play blocker for you at family events.

You might just find that if you plan ahead of time that you actually have a nice time at the event doing exactly what you were supposed to do there—socialize with friends and family.