When people have Weight Loss Surgery (WLS), they often do not realize how quickly they get “full” after eating just a few bites. Your brain (or your eyes) tell you to eat more, but there is no room. For some people this is a relief as they always felt hungry and glad they are now satisfied with meals. For others, sadness, depression and even anger can set in as you do not seem to have the same pleasure in eating as you did before. Food used to be a comfort, your best friend and you may have enjoyed cooking for others – those pleasures are no longer there. This is called food mourning.
How do you cope?
Enlist the help of a bariatric dietitian to help you learn how to manage food choices and a therapist (psychologist or other licensed behavioral health specialist) that has a background in bariatric surgery to help you learn how to manage the depression, anger or sadness you may be feeling.
Some find it helpful to learn new ways to enjoy foods and create new recipes that your whole family will enjoy. It can be helpful to channel your love of food into a more balanced and healthy eating style. In addition, eating slowly post-op not only helps you tolerate foods better, it can also help you savor each bite. Think about quality not quantity.
A therapist can help you learn better coping strategies to get through this part of your WLS journey. The tools that you learn will help you throughout your journey and in other aspects of your life. For additional support, talk to the bariatric surgeon and come to our free monthly support group meetings. Our support group is well attended by bariatric patients who have been in your shoes and can offer sage advice to help you get through this challenging time.
You are not alone if you feel like you miss food after WLS, it is a real phenomenon. Talk to your bariatric surgeon, dietitian, and/or therapist and attend support group regularly to help you get through this challenging time in your weight loss journey.
Do you experience food mourning? Leave a comment below. We would love to hear from you!
Dietitian’s Corner is a monthly column for post-op and pre-op patients of bariatric surgery in NJ written by Prime Surgicare’s Lori Skurbe. Lori has been a dietitian for over 20 years with an extensive background in weight management, bariatric nutrition and diabetes education.