Bored Eating after Bariatric Surgery

Steph Wagner

February 8, 2022

Bored Eating after Bariatric Surgery

 

blog image theme for winter 2022 focus challenge emotional eating

The most reported emotion related to eating (upon survey of over 200 bariatric patients)…boredom

Click below to listen to this blog!

 

Struggling with bored eating? Let’s talk about our friend dopamine.

In case you missed it, on this blog I explained about the two systems in the body that drive us to eat.

One is more of the physical need for energy (the homeostatic system) and the other has to do more with the experience of the food such as taste. I mentioned a very powerful neurotransmitter in the brain is called dopamine. It’s nickname is the gas pedal of pleasure.

Food has a strong dopamine effect and especially “highly palatable foods” which are those high in fat and sugar.

This is key information as we talk next about bored eating.

 

 

Boredom and dopamine

This is why it’s so helpful to understand what dopamine does in your body.

When your brain is not as engaged and feeling more bored or monotonous, dopamine levels are low.

Remember dopamine is what is associated with feeling pleasure and happiness. Your brain will identify dopamine is low and will tell you to seek out something to bring up dopamine.

Seeing how food has a big impact on dopamine, it is a common place for ones brain to go.

 

Plus the brain loves habits

Not only does the brain identify that dopamine has dipped and it needs something pleasurable to bring it back up, the brain also really loves building new habits.

That means, the more often we go for food when we are bored, the more often the brain will think of food when bored.

“Hey we need more dopamine but I know exactly what to do! Send her to the pantry!”

Right there we have two key pieces of information that we can work with. If we understand boredom means a dip in dopamine and we also recognize the habit of going to food, we can now use our knowledge as power.

For one, we feel more empowered that we understand whats happening instead of feeling like there is something wrong with us.

For two, we can strategize what to do when we are bored!

 

 

Tips for managing bored eating

Here is our simple take home message.

If you’re bored, your brain needs something to get excited about or engage in.

Make a list of the times you are most likely to be bored. Make a list of things you genuinely enjoy doing that would fit at those times.

Bariatric Psychologist Dr. Jim Keller recommends making a list of 3 minute, 30 minute and 3 hour activities you enjoy. This would be go-to activities depending on the time you have available.

If you have a time of day you commonly get bored and start snacking, find a way to break the routine.

As much as our brain loves a routine, the good news is breaking something in the chain of events will interrupt that routine and help you make new connections.

For example, if you tend to snack at night while playing computer games it can help to sit in another chair or play a card game instead. You can totally throw your brain off by doing a puzzle or calling a friend! You may still think of food from time to time but the chain of events for the habit will start to unravel!

 

Check out the other blogs on emotional eating below! Members will soon have access to the full video course!

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Sources

https://foodandnutrition.org/blogs/stone-soup/why-we-eat-when-were-bored/

https://www.pacificmedicalcenters.org/healthy-tips/nutrition-why-we-eat-when-were-bored-and-what-to-do-about-it/#:~:text=One%20reason%20is%20dopamine.,back%20up%2C%20such%20as%20eating.

 

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