Feeling Triggered? Understanding Hunger Cues after WLS

Article By: Whittany Gibson, RDN

Whittany is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who specializes in bariatric nutrition counseling, and owner of Level Up Bariatrics, LLC, a bariatric lifestyle coaching program that provides pre and post-op support for weight loss surgery patients. Learn more on Instagram (@level_up_bariatrics).

Weight loss surgery can be a life-changing procedure that can result in many positive changes in one’s overall health. However, the road to success after the procedure requires long-term discipline and the ability to stick to a healthy eating plan and lifestyle. One of the challenges faced by WLS patients is dealing with emotional eating or eating when not hungry. This counterproductive behavior can sabotage weight loss efforts and cause weight gain, but, more importantly, emotional distress and mental struggles can ensue if left unidentified. In this blog post, we'll explore the common triggers that lead to eating when not hungry and how to avoid them. Remember, everyone may have specific triggers besides these common ones.

Trigger #1: Boredom. One of the primary reasons people eat when not hungry is boredom. We may be idle or watching TV, and as a way to pass the time, we reach for something to eat. To avoid boredom eating, look for alternatives that keep your mind or body active, such as reading a book or taking a walk.

Trigger #2: Stress. Stress is one of the most common triggers of emotional eating. When under stress, our bodies produce cortisol, which can increase appetite and food cravings. Stress management techniques such as deep breathing or meditation can help reduce stress and prevent overeating.

Trigger #3: Social situations. Eating is a social activity, and it's easy to overeat with friends or family. Often, we indulge in unhealthy foods or larger portions than we would otherwise. To avoid this pitfall, plan ahead and bring your own healthy food to social events for yourself or to share.

Trigger #4: Scent and environment. The sight or smell of food can stimulate our appetite, even if we're not hungry. Walking by a bakery or smelling fresh pizza can trigger food cravings. Be mindful of your surroundings and avoid environments that may trigger overeating.

Trigger #5: Emotional distress. Eating can be an easy distraction or comfort when feeling sad, lonely, or anxious. However, overeating can create a cycle of negative emotions and lead to guilt or shame. Practice self-compassion and find healthy ways to deal with emotional distress, such as calling a friend or going for a walk.

Identifying the common triggers to eating when not hungry is essential to maintaining a healthy weight after weight loss surgery. Awareness and mindful eating practices can help you avoid counterproductive behaviors and achieve long-term success. By understanding your challenges and developing healthy coping strategies, you'll be one step closer to achieving your weight loss goals. Remember, success after weight loss surgery requires discipline, patience, and a commitment to a healthy lifestyle.

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

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