There are a thousand and one reasons for eating and only one of them is fueling your body. Everything else has to do with satisfying an emotional need.
Comfort eating, reward eating, getting over a disappointment eating –– they're all real drivers. If eating was only about body fuel, our world would be content with public feeding stations where we could top up our tanks when passing by.
Instead, we have all these wonderful food choices to savor, make us feel better and add fun to our lives. Thousands upon thousands of well-advertised food products and restaurants surround us.
Every one of us eats for pleasure as well as fuel. For some of us however, too much emotionally driven eating develops into food addiction, where we depend too heavily on food to make our lives better.
Beating any form of addiction is difficult. Beating food addiction is especially hard because in our society you cannot drive down a street, watch TV or go the Mall without being overwhelmed by messages about food.
In treating food addiction, the first step is understanding how your own emotions are motivating your personal eating habits. The second step is changing habits to restore a liveable balance between fuel-based eating and pleasure-based eating.
By helping you feel satisfied with smaller portions of food, bariatric surgery can limit the impact of emotion-based over-eating and help prepare the way for breaking the addiction cycle. But it cannot fundamentally change the way your brain works by itself.
Understanding the emotions that drive your behavior and finding healthier ways to re-channel those emotions usually requires professional counseling. We all need help.