Managing Food Cravings and Your Relationship with Food After Weight Loss Surgery
After weight loss surgery, your relationship with food, and the way you eat will be different than it was before your operation. Because you will be eating a healthier diet, you may also experience food cravings for fare that is longer a part of your diet.
Knowing what triggers your cravings and how to navigate your new relationship with food will put you on a path to long-term success for weight loss and healthier life.
Food Meet the New You
In the past, your unhealthy relationship with food may have caused binge eating and feelings of guilt and shame. Maybe you viewed food as the enemy because it caused you to gain weight. Perhaps it was a friend who provided solace when you were feeling sad.
The underlying issues that caused your unhealthy relationship with food won’t disappear after surgery but knowing the source of the problem will help you establish a healthy partnership with food. You can develop other ways to cope with your emotions proactively.
Eating right isn’t easy, nor is it automatic. It’s something you will have to learn. As you begin your new relationship with food, you will start to see food as something that nourishes your body, gives you the energy to enjoy life, and provides the nutrients to achieve optimum health. Besides learning what to eat and drink, you will learn how to eat. The following strategies for eating will help you handle food after surgery and beyond:
- Eat slowly in a calm area with no distractions like the TV
- Chew thoroughly to the consistency of a puree
- Stop when full
- Reintroduce foods slowly to avoid discomfort
- Add moisture for easier swallowing and digestion
- Eat six smaller meals rather than three large meals
- Avoid high-fat, high-sugar foods and beverages
What Causes Food Cravings?
Cravings are a trick that your mind plays on your body as it tries to convince you to give in and eat something you know you shouldn’t. Just because you are dealing with a craving doesn’t mean that your body needs it.
Neurological factors prompt cravings. One main factor is your body’s stress response. A stressful situation can trigger your mind to want comfort, and that comfort is usually connected with certain foods. Other triggers can be boredom, dehydration (salty cravings), and mineral deficiencies (sweet cravings). After weight loss surgery, indulging in these cravings can cause complications and digestion problems.
Even though you might not experience cravings immediately after surgery or three months into recovery, they may rear their ugly heads within the first year after surgery. The following tips can help prevent food cravings if they come back:
- Do not skip meals.
- Plan ahead. Have a few healthy snacks planned throughout the day to help curb hunger and cravings. Portion control is critical; ensure each meal is less than 200 calories. When you have returned to solid food, some good choices for snacks include yogurt with fresh fruit, a hard-boiled egg, or a fruit smoothie.
- Stay hydrated. Drink at least 64 ounces of fluid daily because dehydration can make you feel hungry and cause cravings.
- Don’t forget balance. Protein should be the priority at your meals; however, it is also essential to include some healthy carbohydrates (fruit and whole grains), vegetables, and healthy fats in your diet. Be sure to follow the guidelines for your current dietary plan.
- Resist sweets. Sugar is a highly addictive substance, but rather than depriving yourself try having a small piece of dark chocolate, or a portion of sugar-free candy. Look at the nutritional information because fat and sugar alcohols can cause dumping syndrome. Consider Stevia, a natural alternative to sugar.
- Control your hunger. When establishing your new timetable for eating, eat at specific times each day. This strategy will help you remain in control of your appetite.
- Control the environment. Remove tempting foods from your pantry and home, so they aren’t easily accessible.
- Look for distractions. Reading a book, watching a movie, exercising, or calling a friend can keep you occupied until your next planned meal or snack.
- Plan activities. Plan activities not related to eating. Take a hike, walk your dog, or do yard work.
With determination and self-control, you can overcome food cravings. On average, it takes a couple of weeks for your body to stop craving certain foods. The longer your body goes without sugar and other junk food, the less intense your cravings will be.
Rely on ProCare Health Family for Your Nutritional Needs
At ProCare Health, we know the struggle you face with food. We are dedicated to providing you with the best quality multivitamin supplements and other products that will help you get the nutrients you need on your journey to a healthier life. Please contact us today with questions, to get a free sample, or to place an order.