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Question – Though my protein intake has been regular after gastric sleeve surgery, it seems like I am hungry more often. What should I do?
It’s totally normal to have some hunger pains after surgery. For some people, the hunger dissipates a few days to weeks after surgery and some people continue to have normal hunger/fullness signals. Eventually, everyone begins to feel “hunger pain” again.
The reason behind the Hunger Pangs
- You need to ask yourself if your activity levels have increased of late. You might notice that you get hungrier after workouts. So, you will have to drink more protein shakes to compensate.
- You might also get hunger pangs if you skimp on veggies and protein and instead gorge on snacks. As a result, your body will crave for more junk food.
- Remember – now is a good time to learn what those hunger/fullness cues are telling you.
- It can be true physical hunger because we need to fuel our bodies or it could be appetizing hunger because something looks good.
- It could also be out-of-habit hunger, head hunger or even emotional hunger.
- The act of skipping meals during the day is one reason why you always feel hungry. For example, not having proper breakfast can increase the tendency to graze on snacks later on.
- Drastically reducing the intake of calories can also make you feel hungry as you are depriving the body of fuel.
- Frequently, it’s not that we are necessarily hungry between meals, but that we are bored. When you start to get hunger pains, take a minute to really evaluate that hunger signal.
Something to Remember
- Caffeine is a diuretic and is present in many regular & diet soda drinks, thus causing you to lose valuable fluids.
- Sodium, which is frequently added to sodas increases your demand to drink more.
- These can make you feel thirsty and thirst is often confused with hunger.
Tips to Beat Hunger Pains
- Plan all your meals in advance including the snacks that you intend to have in between. This will help you to avoid crispy crunchy carbs. You can also substitute snacks with healthy protein shakes.
- Develop and maintain an eating pattern. Eat a small portion if you are not willing to take a full meal. But do eat at the stipulated time.
- Certain healthy carbohydrates should also be included in the diet, apart from the regular focus on proteins. Greek yogurt, blended bean soup, and cottage cheese are great options.
- Divert your mind and engage yourself in other activities to avoid thinking of food. Have a drink of water, get up and stretch or take a quick 5-minute walk. You may just need a change in activity to refocus your mind.
- One of our clients suggests following the emotional release technique which involves tapping on pressure points in order to release emotions. This can be helpful as emotional eating is one reason why we tend to eat more than what is required.
While most people don’t want to feel hungry, those “pains” are actually beneficial from the beginning and help you to start that mindful eating approach immediately after bariatric surgery.
- Leahey, Tricia M. et al. “Effects of Bariatric Surgery on Food Cravings: Do Food Cravings and the Consumption of Craved Foods ‘normalize’ after Surgery?” Surgery for obesity and related diseases: official journal of the American Society for Bariatric Surgery, 8.1, 2012, 84–91, PMC, Web, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4438677/
- “Manage your cravings after weight loss surgery.” Mayo Clinic Health System, 2015, https://mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/manage-your-cravings-after-weight-loss-surgery
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