With weight loss surgery, patients experience a biological change. Gastric sleeve surgery is a two-fold procedure that changes not only how much food a person is able to hold, but also how much food a person wants, both of which help to induce weight loss.
While it is true that ghrelin, which is known as the hunger hormone, is mainly produced in the stomach, especially in the portion of the stomach that gets removed during sleeve gastrectomy, it is important to be cognizant of the fact that mindset shifts typically will need to be made in order for patients to maximize the success of their surgery.
At the end of the day, the surgeon operates on the stomach and not the brain. Mental shifts can be very difficult to execute, particularly if certain behaviours and thought patterns have been used as coping mechanisms for a long time. Below, we discuss 4 mindset shifts that can help with overall weight loss surgery success.
Hunger vs. Appetite
Switching to a framework of mindful eating post-op is going to help, especially for patients that struggled with emotional eating prior to surgery. It can be helpful to be aware of the difference between hunger and appetite so that you can practice intuitive eating. Hunger refers to a cue from your body signalling the need for food, whereas appetite is a cue from the brain signalling the desire for food. Mindful eating training may prove helpful, and is the best way to gain control of food intake and end the cycle of emotional eating. The best way to get started is by consulting a Hunger-Fullness Scale to rank appetite before, during and after a meal. Your goal is to feel satisfied, not overly full or stuffed.
Being self-aware will prove helpful following gastric sleeve. Practicing mindfulness will make it easier to recognize any triggers that lead you to indulge in old habits. As stated above, many turn to food for comfort in what is known as emotional eating. Self-awareness will allow you to recognize when you’re being triggered and when it’s time to implement new behaviours and coping skills.
Did you know that many bariatric patients consider goal-setting a necessity post-op? Setting goals helps to hold you accountable. Additionally, breaking down big goals into many little goals will help to keep you motivated. We recommend a mixture of both weight-related and non weight-related goals – or what is often referred to as Non-Scale Victories. At the end of the day, you chose to have weight loss surgery for an improved quality of life, and there’s so much more to life than the number on the scale!
Journaling goes hand in hand with goal-setting because what better place to write down and track all those goals than in a journal?
Some patients also find it helpful to keep a food diary so as to maximize their weight loss efforts. Food diaries aren’t about judgement, but rather, they make it very easy to see and understand just how much of something you are consuming. Journaling can also be used to help you strengthen your self-awareness. For example, if you are working on emotional eating, it can prove helpful to write down every time you think of food or visit the fridge when not hungry. To go a step further, you can include what was going on around the same time as these unsolicited thoughts to try and unpack common triggers. Journaling regularly can not only be therapeutic but can also aid in keeping you on the right path post-op.
Ready to start your weight loss journey? We can help. Our highly experienced Toronto gastric sleeve surgery specialists and knowledgeable care team are ready to support you – book your free consultation today.