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Curb Emotional Eating

Filling up with food, pushing down feelings: Know the difference between hunger and emotional eating and learn how to control the urges.



Michael P. Sherman, MD, PhD; Diana Superfin, MD; Ann Wexler, MD; Amir Modarressi, MD

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Curb Emotional Eating
Filling up with food, pushing down feelings

    When you hit the fridge after rough days at work or routinely munch a bunch of chips to unwind and watch TV, you may be engaged in emotional eating and pay the consequences in unwanted inches and pounds on the scale.
    Ironically, comfort food may not be what you’re craving. “Emotional eating is not a physical hunger—it can be described as a hunger of the heart,” says Trina Swerdlow, C.C.H.T., who teaches a John Muir Health class on the topic and works with clients on weight loss and stress management. “We may be starving for love, respect, acceptance, a sense of belonging.”
    So what to do? A family member, friend, therapist or support group can help you deal with your emotions. Experts also recommend various strategies to manage the problem eating, including the following.

  • Avoid temptations: Don’t keep supplies of comfort foods on hand; if necessary, advises Swerdlow, stow them for family members in an avoidable location.
  • Control stress: Yoga or meditation can help.
  • Keep a food diary: Track your feelings and what, when and how much you’re eating.
  • Fight boredom: Instead of snacking, indulge in diversions—call a friend, take a walk, surf the Internet, go out for a movie.

GO|Attend Managing Emotional and Compulsive Eating at John Muir Health Women’s Health Center on Thursday, June 2, 6:30–8:30 p.m., $40 (includes two-CD set). To register, call (925) 941-7900, option 3, or visit johnmuirhealth.com/classes.

Weight Loss Surgery

    At the John Muir Health Weight Loss Surgery Center, weight loss (bariatric) surgery is an option for those who are at least 70 pounds overweight and have not had success with diets or other nonsurgical methods. These procedures (usually done through tiny incisions) help patients slim down by reducing the size of the stomach. Some procedures also impair absorption of calories through the intestine. Today’s weight loss surgery often requires just one day in the hospital.
    FYI: A free weight loss surgery seminar is held at John Muir Medical Center, Concord, Lesher Room, on the second Wednesday of every month, 6–7:30 p.m. Other days and times are offered at additional locations. Call (800) 710-6111 or visit johnmuirhealth.com/weightloss for more information or to register.

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Added: 2017-02-16

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