Managing Hunger after Weight Loss Surgery
Managing hunger after weight-loss surgery is one of the most difficult parts of post-bariatric life. In every case, except the gastric sleeve, patients may still feel hungry even if they are full after a meal. This arises because, while the stomach is smaller, the brain may still be used to the patient’s past lifestyle and diet. This hunger, especially in the first few months after surgery, can make it very difficult to stick to the post bariatric diet and can be a nagging reminder of the challenges after weight loss surgery.
The gastric sleeve is slightly different however, because part of the stomach is cut away and removed from the abdomen. The fundus, which produces hunger causing hormone ghrelin, is removed along with the stomach. This causes significantly reduced hunger sensation in many patients.
Managing hunger is not as difficult as it may seem at first glance. The following tips are important ways to effectively manage hunger after weight loss surgery:
- The more dense the food that is consumed, the less hungry the patient will feel. Foods that are low in nutrition such as high-fat, high sugar foods provide very little long-term satiety, while dense proteins can offer a great deal of satisfaction in small portions.
- Eating slowly can also help with any hunger issues. We often eat much faster than we should and our bodies do not register as full until it’s too late. If we eat slowly and chew thoroughly, the body will be able to catch up and let us know when to stop eating.
- Drinking water 45 minutes before and after a meal can also help with hunger, especially head hunger – the “fake” hunger we feel when we’re actually thirsty. One or two 8 ounce glasses of water before and after a meal, not during, can help us avoid head hunger.
- Finally, eating small meals more often throughout the day can keep our sugar levels more constant and make us feel less hungry. Rather than eating three big meals, try five smaller meals – a tried-and-true way to manage hunger.
Hunger is largely controlled by hormones in the body that communicate with the brain. Our hunger levels will eventually begin to fall in line with our new food consumption patterns. Difficulties involving hunger usually occur shortly after bariatric surgery when lifestyle changes feel the most drastic, however they often subside over the course of several months as our bodies and minds come to terms with the major changes that we’ve made.
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