Mindful Eating before Bariatric Surgery

Medically Reviewed by Katelyn J. Mock, US-Registered Dietician (R.D.)

Question – What are some ways to mentally prepare for weight loss surgery? I won’t be able to have mine for at least six months due to finances, so I am taking this time to save and prepare myself in every way possible. I am very much an emotional eater – I recognize that, but how do I go about fixing it?

Answer –

  • The best way to prepare mentally before bariatric surgery is to do some research on mindful eating practices.
  • This is probably the number one area where people struggle and the area that can help them the most broadly before and after surgery.
  • You can get multiple books on mindful eating.
  • A highly recommended website on the subject is https://thecenterformindfuleating.org.
  • Brian Wansink’s book on mindless eating is a great place to start too.
  • Basically, become more aware of what has contributed to your weight gain:
    • Genetics
    • Food choices
    • Mindless/boredom eating
    • Emotional/stress eating
  • Not having time to prepare healthy meals.
  • Most people have an idea of 1-2 areas where they struggle, but really looking inward and doing some research can make other things come to light.

Tips from Our US-Registered Dietitian

Katelyn Mock shares her experience and tips for mindful eating

  • I have been a dietitian for over a decade and have worked with individuals thinking about undergoing bariatric surgery, preparing for surgery, and living life post-surgery for the majority of my career.
  • One of the first lessons I had as an intern working with a bariatric program was that losing weight is rarely, and I repeat, RARELY just about food.
  • Yes, food is ultimately the reason individuals struggle with their weight, but there are many other factors that have nothing to do with food that cause us all (not just those undergoing surgery) to have a difficult time making healthier food choices.

“A simple definition of mindful eating is eating with intention and attention—or eating with purpose and awareness.” This is something that requires practice and a constant checking-in-with-yourself process, but not self-judgment – Bariatric Times

The Art of Mindful Eating

I think the most important thing anyone can do (not just individuals that are struggling with obesity) is to try and be a more mindful eater.

  • This requires practice and a constant “checking in with yourself”
  • It is normal to make mistakes and learn before we can master it.

In all truthfulness, eating mindfully is something that can be a real struggle and I have to work at, even as a nutrition health professional.

Why is Mindful Eating so Important With Bariatric Surgery?

Because, as most of you know, bariatric surgery is only a tool to help you lose weight, it is not going to keep you healthy or at your goal weight forever.

It is the decisions that you make every day that affect this.

Without focusing on mindful eating, most of us will feel like we are living on a diet forever. My goal as a dietitian is to help you eat healthy and to enjoy food without feeling a ton of stigma over every item that you put in your mouth.

I want you to be able to enjoy life with a healthier body and a mind that is not focused on every single bite of food, a gram of protein, or an ounce of liquid.

But, before anyone can do that, mindful eating strategies are essential.

Here are some helpful websites to aid in your Mindful Eating journey:

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