One Of The Simplest Ways To Avoid Overeating After WLSMar 28, 2022
Have you noticed that you’re getting back to some old habits and eating more, even after your surgery?
Would you like to learn a simple strategy that will help you to reduce unnecessary eating?
When you first have WLS, your eating habits would have dramatically changed. You would have had to really take your time to be able to eat. Gradually, over time, people are often able to eat more and to eat quicker without suffering the same restrictions or consequences. When you rush your food and fail to chew properly however, this can lead to overconsumption, to weight gain and also to digestive issues.
One of the simplest ways to get back on track after WLS is therefore to refocus on how you are eating and to eat slowly and mindfully.
Mindfulness is the practice of being aware, moment-to-moment and mindful eating means really focusing on how you’re eating - so that when you are eating you’re not doing anything else. You’re just eating and you’re being aware of what you’re doing.
“When walking, walk. When eating, eat.” Proverb
When you slow down your eating, focus on what you’re doing and really chew your food, you’ll learn to recognise feelings of fullness, help manage your weight, increase the enjoyment of your food as you appreciate every texture and flavour, and also improve your digestion - if food isn’t chewed properly it means that there’s much more work for the rest of your digestive system to do.
So, it’s worth reflecting on whether your eating has been getting faster, and less mindful, as the time since your surgery has passed.
Here are some tips on slowing down and eating mindfully:
- Sitting down is a great way to increase mindfulness. Avoid eating while standing, walking around or driving;
- Stop multitasking at meal times. It’s really difficult to focus on eating if you’re doing other things. Set aside time for eating without other entertainment or distraction;
- Avoid reading the paper or watching the news when eating – this is a particularly bad habit as it invariably increases the stress hormones in the body, which shift blood away from the digestive system;
- For most people, it works to limit eating to three or four small meals each day and then if you eat outside of these times then you know it's probably mindless or emotional eating (check out this article on reducing emotional eating);
- Take as long as you can with your meal and ideally make it last at least 20 minutes;
- Go for quality not quantity. By choosing smaller amounts of good quality, healthy food, you will not only enjoy it more, you are far more likely to be satisfied without having to overeat;
- Serve the food on small side plates to keep the portions down;
- Chew until the food is liquefied to break it down for your body and make it easier to digest;
- Use cutlery and put it down between mouthfuls. It’s much easier to take smaller portions when using a knife and fork;
- Cut the food into small pieces;
- Appreciate the appearance of your food. Simply by looking at your food, you increase mindfulness – this stimulates your stomach juices and prepares your body for digestion;
- Focus on each mouthful. Think about the flavour, texture and even the sound of the food in your mouth.
Our final piece of advice is to start small. Choose one meal each day and commit to focusing on mindful eating at that time. Like all new habits, it’s best to set realistic expectations. By simply focusing on how you are eating, you can really shift your results back to where you want them to be!