Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Group Therapy & Reprogramming your cravings

Let's be honest, the words "group therapy" aren't particularly appealing to most people.  My bariatric clinic's group therapy is more of an educational group run by the dietitian and nurse at the hospital, and it is not what I would consider therapy at all.  It's a support group that is usually a conversation dominated by one or two regular group members.  It's not for therapeutic purposes but rather, a support meeting.  I find the meetings are usually unstructured, chatty conversation about whatever people want to talk about. The group I'm working on is designed to address specific topics related to lifestyle changes necessary for weight loss, a 12 week program related to our personal relationship with food.  The root of the problem is about our ability to stop using food for emotional comforts, like job and personal relationship stressors. The reason we maintain excess fat is that we need to reconstruct our ability to make the best choice every day, no matter what emotional triggers arise. Understanding why you make unhealthy choices is the first step, but what you do to change the thought patterns that lead to those choices, and how you take control of your relationship with food is centered in your ability to create permanent changes in positive self talk, emotional support, and develop healthy behaviors that deter from emotional reliance on food.

I still struggle every day with my choices, and what ends up happening is I make good choices for breakfast and lunch, and then by dinner time, I am frustrated and tired and I want to take the easy way out. I've not been good about logging food in a journal, but at some point, you have to do this.  You have to bite the bullet and make a concerted effort to log all your food intake.  I did this religiously in the beginning, but now, more than ever, I really see that I have to commit pen to paper and be honest with myself.  Even when I screw up my diet plan because I just HAD to have ice cream... Ice cream, my weakness. The hardest part is being honest and consistent with the food journaling. It's hard to admit that I ate something I knew wasn't on the plan, but recently I've become better at it using Noom, an app for my phone. It's been a HUGE help in looking at where I am emotionally eating, how I feel when I eat, and where I am making the best food choices. Oddly enough, I make the best food choices when I am NOT at home!

When I realize that my home kitchen has become ridden with high calorie, non-nutritious foods, I purge the pantry.  Getting rid of everything that isn't on the plan is the best way to start over.  I maintained my 75 lb. loss pre-surgery, but sometimes I wasn't sure how other than the amount of exercising I did offset what I was eating.  Whenever I purged the pantry though, I found it was so much easier to lose another 5 lbs.  
Right now, I have about 30 lbs. I would like to lose and maintain and I know the only way I will be able to lose it and keep it off is if I stay consistent. Permanently eliminating all those high fat, high carb, and sugary foods that got me here in the first place is the only way to go. I've gotten this far and was very consistent for two years, it's just been recently I have slacked. Mostly, I've slacked because of stress, but I can't let a stressful situation take over my ability to control what I put in my mouth. I have more self control than that, I won't let stress get the best of me!

We have to relearn our eating behaviors. One of the things I did to prepare for surgery was to work on eating small meals, very slowly. Tiny bites, no more than 1/2 c. of food per meal. It helped to show me just how much food I would be able to eat post-surgery. Surgery can only change your stomach's size, we all have to learn to stop eating for emotional reasons.  Yesterday, I found myself craving cheese puffs.  What did I do?  Before I got home from work, I stopped and got those dang cheese puffs, and what did I do?  I ate every last cheese puff in the grab bag.  Ugh!  I felt worse after eating them than I did before.  Lesson learned, next time, I will come home and I will eat some carrots and hummus, looks just like a cheese puff, only more nutritious and better for me!  I will remember how I felt next time I want cheese puffs and tell myself I crave carrots and hummus! I consider myself reprogrammed! 

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