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Mindful Eating. What Is It and Why Does It Matter?

Mindfulness can play a very important part of the postoperative lifestyle. Mindfulness is a very simple concept – to be in the present moment when performing various activities. For a bariatric patient, that might be understanding and appreciating the food we eat, as we eat it.

We spend a good chunk of our lives in or around the kitchen or at restaurants eating, grazing or drinking. However, as we do these things, we are rarely focusing on what we are actually doing. Oftentimes, we are distracted by conversation, television, driving or stressors in our lives. The result is that we can’t fully appreciate our food and sometimes we can’t even remember what we ate earlier. While this may seem trivial, it makes it more difficult for us to control what we eat and to appreciate and enjoy the new lifestyle that we are embarking upon. Enjoying and understanding the food we are eating makes for a better postoperative experience, can allow us to better understand our eating patterns and generally slows us down during the times we need this calm the most.

What Are Four First Steps Toward Mindful Eating?

First, is to choose our foods more wisely. Understanding what foods, we buy is a big part of mindful eating. If we buy just anything, it is more difficult to appreciate the ingredient, understand its nutritional value and how it might taste. Spending a little time researching different ingredients and choosing the proper one at the grocery store make the entire mindfulness process more enjoyable. We can then fully appreciate the transformation that the food makes from raw to cooked and we can enjoy the flavors.

Second, eat slowly. The faster you eat the more likely you are to blow past your feeling of fullness. It takes about 15-20 minutes for your stomach to send the proper signals to your brain telling it you are full. If you’re eating too quickly, you will have passed this time and you will feel overfull and generally unhappy with your meal. Mindfulness means slowing down and listening to the cues that your body gives you.

Third is scheduling your meals. You will receive a schedule for your meals as part of the post-operative packet from our office. Be sure to follow it. It has been created with a bariatric patient needs specifically in mind. We have worked with hundreds of bariatric patients in a very similar position and know what is necessary to be successful over the long term. If you stray from the schedule, be sure to get back on as soon as possible. We all make mistakes, and we shouldn’t beat ourselves up for it.

Avoid emotional eating. When we eat as a result of our emotions Dash positive or negative, we lose the mindfulness that keeps us on track. If you are feeling particularly good or even bad, try not to eat just for the sake of it. Stick to your schedule avoid bad foods and listen to your body not your emotions when eating.

Of course, this is will all be discussed during your postoperative life and we want you to ask any questions you may have about how and when to eat. We look forward to being able to help you through your postoperative lifestyle and we encourage you to incorporate mindful eating as part of that.

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