Are You Savoring Each Bite? A Guide to Mindful Eating

Article By: Gianna Soussan

Gianna is a seasoned Bariatric Patient & Peer Coach who has lost and maintained 120+ lbs on her journey to better health. She is an advocate within the bariatric community and has made it her life’s mission to share what she’s learned to be successful along the way! Follow her journey on Instagram (@vsgianna_).

In our journeys toward a healthier and happier life after bariatric surgery, one of the most essential practices we can adopt is mindful eating. While the surgery itself may help in reducing the capacity of the stomach, it's the conscious effort we put into nourishing our bodies and learning to get in tune with its signals that truly determines our success and well-being in the long-term.

Mindless eating is a common trap that many of us fall into (me included!) especially in today's fast-paced world filled with distractions. Whether it's eating in front of the TV, mindlessly munching while scrolling through our phones, or reaching for snacks out of boredom or stress, these habits can lead to overeating and discomfort, particularly after bariatric surgery.

But what exactly is mindful eating, and how can it benefit us on our post-surgery journey? Mindful eating is about bringing our full attention to the present moment, savoring each bite, and tuning into our body's hunger and fullness cues. It's a practice that encourages us to eat with intention and awareness, rather than on autopilot.

Here are some key principles to keep in mind as you embrace mindful eating after bariatric surgery:

1) Savor each bite.

Take the time to truly taste and appreciate the flavors of your food. Chew slowly and mindfully, noticing the textures and sensations with each bite. By savoring your meals, you'll not only enjoy them more but also feel more satisfied with smaller portions. I also find that this gives me more time between bites and allows my stomach to transmit the fullness signal to my brain before I overindulge.

2) Avoid distractions.

Turn off the TV, put away your phone, and create a peaceful eating environment free from distractions. Eating mindfully means giving your full attention to the act of eating, allowing you to chew thoroughly and better recognize your body's signals of hunger and fullness.

3) Listen to your body.

Pay attention to your body's hunger and fullness cues, and honor them accordingly. Eat when you're truly hungry and stop at the FIRST sign of fullness. Did you know that it takes the stomach and brain approximately 15-20 minutes to transmit the fullness signal? It's important to avoid overeating, as this can lead to discomfort and potential complications after bariatric surgery. At first sign of fullness, place your fork down and wait ~15 minutes to see how you feel. You can always go back for more — but we cannot take back food once we swallow. Take it slow and listen closely.

4) Recognize triggers.

Be mindful of the factors that may trigger mindless eating such as stress, boredom, or social situations. Instead of turning to food for comfort or distraction, find alternative ways to cope with these emotions such as practicing mindfulness, engaging in physical activity, or seeking support from loved ones. Ask yourself “What am I REALLY hungering for right now?” and try filling that need in a non-food related way.

By incorporating these principles into your daily life, you can cultivate a healthier and more mindful approach to eating after bariatric surgery. It may feel challenging at first, but the more you practice, the more it will become a natural part of your new lifestyle. Remember, nourishing your body with love and intention is an essential part of your journey toward long-term success and well-being.

So, let's commit to mastering mindful eating together. Let's savor each bite, avoid distractions, and listen to our bodies with compassion and awareness. Because when we nourish ourselves mindfully, we not only support our physical health but also nourish our souls.

Here's to embracing the transformative power of mindful eating on our post-bariatric surgery journey. Let's nourish ourselves from the inside out and thrive in our newfound wellness and vitality!

BariMelts provides general recommendations, not to be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor.

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