Are you Eating Because You are Mentally Hungry or Physically Hungry?

How can I learn to not eat too much?

By: Michele Losinno

One of the many changes that come with weight loss surgery is portion size. However, this can be a difficult adjustment for people to make. When you are used to eating a certain amount of food your whole life, abruptly changing it can elicit feelings of sadness, loss, or anxiety. An effective way to get used to your new way of eating with relation to size of meals/snacks is to ask yourself, “why am I eating?”

Are you Eating Because You are Mentally Hungry or Physically Hungry?

Many times, you probably eat out of habit, to clean your plate or for emotional reasons. Recognizing the difference between physical hunger and mental hunger is an important distinction. To differentiate between these two types of hunger, ask yourself:

  • When did I last eat?
  • Am I thirsty?
  • Have I just had a conflict with someone or do I feel angry?
  • Am I putting off doing a task I generally dislike?
  • Is eating an attempt to avoid certain thoughts or feelings?
  • Am I bored?
  • I’m I eating to push down an uncomfortable emotion?
  • Am I tired?

Factors that Might Cause You to Eat More Than You Need to

Sometimes people use food to perk them up or to keep themselves awake. This leads to eating more than desired. Other times, people tend to overeat if they are distracted. When you sit down to eat, do you:

  • Eat in front of the television, reading, on the internet?
  • Multi-task and lose track of how much you are eating?
  • Eat because others are eating around you instead of it being a pre-planned meal or snack time?

To best monitor your intake,

  • Sit at the table,
  • Be mindful of your eating,
  • Stop yourself when satisfied.

Why keeping a food journal will help you eat less

If you feel your food intake or portion size is out of control or if you are frequently losing track of how much you are eating, keep a food journal. You can note down what you eat, when you eat and the amount you consume during those meals.

You could also set reminders or write down a schedule of meal and snack times that show what you plan on eating. Consult your schedule during the day to ensure you are sticking to it.

Schedule a follow-up with the dietician and behavioral health team to review your journal. The behavioral health team can help you identify triggers to eating. They will also show you ways to manage emotional/mindless eating and help you get back on track with your portion size.

Michele Losinno
Michele Losinno is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She has over 15 years of experience working with children, adolescence and adults proving mental health treatment. She received extensive training in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and dialectical behavioral therapy, and has led group therapy sessions. Michele is committed to helping guide individuals with continued support both before and after weight loss surgery. Part of what Michele does is specializes in pre-operative bariatric assessments and provides post-operative support for emotional eating. Michele is proud to be a part of the multi-disciplinary team at Tri State Bariatrics.