Dealing with Hunger After Bariatric Surgery

After having weight loss surgery, you may still find that you deal with hunger from time to time. This may be surprising since sleeve gastrectomy helps you feel less hungry between your meals. Why then, are you still dealing with hunger? Here are a few tips about dealing with hunger after bariatric surgery.

The gastric sleeve addresses one type of hunger: physical hunger. Physical hunger is based on your body’s need for nutrition. However, most of us find ourselves eating for many other reasons that have nothing to do with nutrition, including stress or boredom. One of the biggest changes you’ll need to make after surgery is learning to make nutrition the number one factor in deciding when and what to eat.

Head Hunger after bariatric Surgery

The desire to eat when your body doesn’t physically need food is often referred to as “head hunger.” You may be thinking about eating because you’re bored, stressed, or sad, among other emotional reasons. The problem is that “head hunger” and “physical hunger” often feel the exact same way at first. Being able to distinguish between real hunger and head hunger is often a new skill for people to learn after bariatric surgery.

Are You Really Hungry?

When you feel the familiar pangs of hunger, the first thing to ask yourself is if you should be experiencing physical hunger right now. When was the last time you ate? Ask yourself if you’re feeling bored or stressed and if that might be triggering your desire for food.

After gastric sleeve surgery, you’re probably eating a small meal every four hours or so. If it has been less than four hours since your last meal, you may be experiencing head hunger. Try to hold off until it’s time for your next meal. If you skipped a meal or it’s been a while since your last adjustment and you think you may be having physical hunger, make a point of choosing a healthy, low-calorie snack.

Make sure that you’re eating slowly and getting enough food at your meal times to avoid getting hungry between meals. You may also want to talk to your surgeon at your next follow-up appointment if you find yourself constantly needing a snack between meals.

How to Handle Head Hunger

When you’re experiencing head hunger, you may find that you’re craving specific foods. Our emotional cravings for food often attract us to sugary, salty, or fatty foods, which is a helpful sign that you might be dealing with head hunger. When this happens, try to see if you can distract yourself from your hunger until the craving passes.

Ways to manage Hunger after Bariatric Surgery:

  • Going for a walk
  • Playing a game
  • Calling a friend
  • Reading
  • Drinking water

If you find that you’re constantly dealing with head hunger, you may have an underlying issue that needs to be resolved. For example, maybe you have an exceptional amount of stress in your life and you need to learn some stress-management techniques. If you find you often turn to food because you’re feeling lonely, now is a good time to actively seek out ways to expand your support system. By identifying common triggers that lead you to food, you can plan ways to avoid or minimize those triggers in the future.

  • Understanding the Glycemic Index
    Carbohydrates are one of the six essential nutrients. Despite common talk about avoiding carbohydrates for weight loss, our bodies require them to thrive. Carbohydrates contain sugar. When you eat carbohydrates, your body breaks down that sugar and absorbs it into the cells with the help of a hormone called insulin, where it is then converted to fuel and used for energy.
  • Reasons to Consider Weight Loss Surgery
    Getting weight loss surgery is a choice that can have a major influence on your health and quality of life for years to come. The conversation surrounding weight loss surgery may come up at the advice of a doctor, after seeing a friend who was successful in their weight loss efforts or maybe after a series of frustrating weight loss attempts.
  • Managing Special Occasions after Weight Loss Surgery
    Every time you turn the corner there is another fast food restaurant or bakery loaded with its own temptations, and you do what you can to stand strong and stick to your post-bariatric diet plan.
  • Healthy Shopping Strategies for a Healthy Household
    When one person in a household gets weight loss surgery, it is actually common for other members of that household to lose weight too. This is called a “halo effect.”
  • Making Healthy Food Substitutions after Weight Loss Surgery
    Approximately six weeks following weight loss surgery you’ll start making the gradual transition back to a whole-foods diet. This is an exciting period for many people. After weeks of gaining sustenance through liquids and soft foods, being able to enjoy a regular meal is something to look forward to.