Last month I watched The Shrinking Woman on Discovery Health. I taped it so I watched it again tonight and I find it very insightful regarding the topic of emotional eating.
The show is about a woman, Connie Jackson, who used to weigh 630 pounds. She had most of her stomach removed in order to get down to 210 pounds, and then the show documented her surgeries to remove excess skin.
Connie is an emotional eater, and she clearly stated that she would turn to food when angry, upset, etc. What I found very interesting was in the last few minutes of the show she was feeling angry after being turned down for another surgery. She went back to her hotel room and started eating because of her feelings. After losing 420 pounds, she had not healed the reason that she had gotten up to 619 pounds in the first place.
She stated that nothing had changed, and that she still turned to food whenever she was upset. She said that the only difference now was that she could only eat “so much” since her stomach couldn’t hold very much food, however she still was using food for her emotions.
Here’s the thought that I got from this: what if instead of getting life threatening surgery, that you go through the process of healing the reasons for emotional eating? If you’re an emotional eater like Connie (and myself), what if you learn other ways to cope with your emotions instead of using food? Besides the money you would save on the surgery, you wouldn’t have to risk your life (any surgery is life threatening), and you would have a permanent solution to your overeating and food abuse.
Update 2012: As you already noted, I wrote this article February 5, 2008, over four years ago. Today as The F.A.T. Release Coach, I mentor smart, spiritual, high-achieving women in my permanent weight loss coaching practice. Hear one of my coaching clients tell you in her own words about her experience with weight loss surgery and how nothing worked for her until working with me in my step-by-step proven System to permanent weight loss.
The reason that the quick-fix of weight loss surgery (note: it’s actually not such a quick fix) is still so seductive is because it’s painful and difficult to face those emotions that are driving you to the food, and it can also be difficult to learn new ways of dealing with your emotions instead of using food. Does this sound harsh? Well, it’s clear that we’re living in a quick-fix society, and going through the process of healing past (and current) pains and upsets takes longer, and it can hurt! However, I believe that this is the path towards not only better, lasting health, but also spiritual growth. If you opt for surgery to lose the weight but you still use food to make yourself feel better, have you really grown out of that crutch? Like Connie said, nothing would really change.
That’s what I’m going for: a real change in how I live. It is true that a great deal of the reason I’ve overeaten is because of sugar addiction, but at the same time I am an emotional eater. My challenge is to learn new ways of responding and reacting to my emotions instead of reaching for food. At the same time I do not have the experience of ever weighing 500 or 600 pounds, but I honestly feel like the kind of mind games we play regarding food are the same no matter what the weight. Yes, it’s certainly true that when you weigh a certain amount life becomes much harder, but I really believe that you can have lasting weight loss success without surgery.
What do you think about this? Do you think that weight loss surgery is fabulous and perhaps should be covered by insurance? Or do you think like I do, that the only way out is through, that by going through the process of uncovering all of those negative hurts and learning new ways to handle your emotions instead of using food is the healthy (and permanent) way to go? Or, do you believe that there are some people who could never lose weight without surgery?