Without embracing your tool bariatric surgery can feel like a permanent diet that continues to consume your life. Often resulting in maladaptive eating habits & emotional eating issues such as:
- Eating too quickly, taking large bites, not chewing thoroughly
- Eating while distracted, leading to overconsumption
- Not savouring food and, therefore, having difficulty feeling satisfied with small volumes of food
- Eating too much, leading to discomfort, vomiting, and/or distention of the pouch
- Grazing or frequently eating small amounts of food
- Consuming high-calorie soft foods and liquids that do not provide satiety
- Emotional eating or eating for affect regulation
- Continuing to consume certain foods despite dumping syndrome
- Preoccupation with food
- Not consuming enough protein and other nutrient-rich foods
- Struggling to establish consistent physical activity
- Feeling deprived, guilty, or left-out in social situations
- Weight regain and weight cycling
Learning to eat mindfully allows balancing eating for nourishment & enjoyment, freeing up your energy & focus on living life.
Mindful Eating Toolkit
- Use small utensils eg: teaspoon, cocktail fork
- Cut food to thumb nail size pieces (use a paring knife)
- Cut as you go
- Nibble vs bite
- Put utensils or food down between mouthfuls
- Chew, chew, chew
- Pause and check for subtle early signals of satiety-sigh, hiccough, feeling comfortable
Slow eating prevents unwanted outcomes ( reflux, vomiting, over-eating/ stretching stomach or undereating/ grazing), allows time to recognise comfortably full (vs full / overfull) & savour food leading to satisfaction.
Eat regularly & small serves :
If you go too long without eating you may feel unwell or too hungry by your next meal often resulting in eating too fast, past the point of comfortably full and/ or poor food choices (usually high in fat/ sugar)
- It can be helpful to set alarms/ reminders if you forget to eat
- In the early stages it is useful to measure your serves (it can take a long time for your eyes & mind to adjust to your new stomach size)- use a measuring cup. This volume is a maximum so you don’t accidentally over eat BUT it is important you listen to your full signal- check in “ Am I comfortable, could I stop here?” vs chasing full
- Over time it is helpful to find crockery that will hold your volume eg: ramekin , Japanese bowl, a beautiful teacup saucer (take the focus off measuring/ weighing until you internalize you mechanism of portion control)
- As you are having small quantities now, you really want to enjoy it! Make your eating experience pleasurable with gorgeous plates/ bowls. Think fine dining experience except now you won’t need to eat before or after to fill you up
- Nibble vs bite
- 3 meals (breakfast, lunch & dinner) will assists adequate nutrition, metabolism & energy through the day
- 2 mid meal snacks – adding small snacks is preferable to having larger portions at meals which can stretch your stomach/ pouch. As your serves are small these are needed to assist energy through the day and are an opportunity for protein & nutrition
These are dedicated meals & snacks SO whatever is not consumed in 20-30min is put away for the next opportunity or thrown away. If you extend meals/ snacks out, eat every hour or constantly have little amounts, you are grazing. This results in consuming too many calories over the day/ night without feeling full and satisfied.
You can’t eat slowly, pay attention to how full you are, let alone enjoy/ taste your food which results in reduced satisfaction & increased symptoms if you are:
- Eating on the run
- Eating whilst driving, working
- Eating whilst watching TV, on devices
- Some find eating out challenging as there can be a lot going on – focus on slow eating, enjoy conversation between mouthful & taste your food
Hunger ( nourishment- physical) vs craving ( enjoyment- head):
Many of our clients at SCMWL describe a changed relationship with food from “Living to Eat” to “ Eat to live”. This highlights a shift from food having power to being empowered around food.
- Hunger is a physical cue- an emotionally neutral body function. This is best satisfied with protein & nutrient rich foods.
- You may need to learn your hunger cues- growling or grumbling in the stomach, trouble concentrating, loss of energy, irritability/ crankiness, light headedness
- Letting yourself get too hungry (by skipping meals or snacks or delaying these) can lead to eating quickly, poor choices (high calorie foods)
- Support yourself by planning ahead, have a supply of food at work, take left overs
- Learning about nutrition, particularly how it applies to bariatric surgery is important. (Refer to food composition chart below)
- Buy nourishing foods, play with flavours & cooking
- Pay attention to how food makes you feel – energy, satisfaction/ how long it holds you not calories.
- Focus on what you can eat comfortably rather than what you can no longer eat