Fighting Food Cravings after Weight Loss Surgery
Food cravings are one of the most often cited obstacles people face when trying to lose weight. Unlike hunger, which can be efficiently managed through healthy food choices, cravings call for something specific—something that is often unhealthy and not considered part of your weight loss diet plan.
A craving is a mental longing for a particular item. They stem from our thoughts, regardless of our level of physical hunger. The more you think about an item the stronger the craving becomes, until it may feel nearly impossible to resist the temptation any longer.
Cravings are common during the diet and weight loss process, and you are going to encounter one at some point after weight loss surgery. But experiencing a craving doesn’t have to mean giving into a craving. By changing your thought process and staying away from unhealthy foods, you’ll be able to decrease the intensity and frequency of food cravings, which can help you stay on track with your weight loss efforts.
Hunger and Food Cravings
There are some who mistakenly think that controlling hunger automatically controls your desires for certain foods. This is not the case.
Cravings are associated with three parts of the brain, all of which are associated with pleasure, reward and memory. They are the:
When we think of a food we want, we start to think about the last time we enjoyed that item. You may recall the taste, the texture and the smell. These are all memories, and the more recently you’ve enjoyed that particular item the stronger the memory will be. Feeling full can help you make smarter dietary choices and cut calories, but if you constantly think of unhealthy foods, then avoiding them will become challenging.
Reducing Cravings after Bariatric Surgery
A craving doesn’t have any control over you. There are things you can do to change your thought process and reduce your risk of giving into the temptation for a particular food.
When a food craving hits, try using one of these healthy strategies to stay on track with your post-bariatric diet plan:
- Concentrate on something other than food. Try looking at images of nature, read a book or talk to a friend. Don’t just tell yourself not to think about your craving, as that will cause you to think about it even more. Get your mind off the topic by thinking of something else altogether.
- Go for a walk. Exercising is a great way to refresh your mind and fight cravings.
- Avoid any temptations. Try taking a different route home so you don’t pass a bakery you’ve been thinking about, or ask a family member to prepare dinner so you aren’t tempted by snacks they keep in the pantry.
- Know the feeling is temporary. Cravings are temporary. The more you focus on something else, the faster your craving will dissipate.
Straying from your post-bariatric diet plan may cause discomfort after weight loss surgery, and can interfere with your weight loss progress if done regularly. Cravings may occur after your weight loss operation, but you don’t have to give into them. Do your best to stay positive and think about things other than food. Before you know it the craving will pass.