I want to point out something many of you might not even know you are doing. Mindless Eating and Grazing is a behavior that will stop our weight loss faster than almost anything you can do. I see it all the time in our Facebook Support Group “I’m on plan and not eating anything much but I’ve stopped losing!” So yes, even if you’re eating on plan, eating small amounts, if you’re eating mindlessly or grazing all day you’re eating too much and eating around your surgery and overeating.

How to stop? You’ve got to be more mindful.

First of all, you’ve got to set the stage for a meal. Arrange your food on a plate. No eating from containers, or standing in the kitchen. Or even while you’re in the car or at your desk at work and in front of the TV. This is important because all of us obviously had a hard time eating what we were supposed to eat before surgery, so we are used to ignoring feelings of Fullness and Satiety or Satisfaction. Now that we have had our stomach made smaller via surgery, we need to slow down and pay attention while we eat. No more iPhone, or television or eating while multitasking at least until we figure it out.

When at goal and happily maintaining you can eat while watching whatever you like, but for now, please turn off the TV.

Oh, trust me. You will absolutely lose a lot of weight in your first 16 months no matter what you eat, but sadly its not you, its the surgery. If you do not take that time to reconstruct your life, you will be one of the ones wondering why the surgery didn’t work for them by year five for sure. 

Set the table, get your kids to do it for you if you like. But pull out all the stops. Put a napkin, a fork, knife and spoon at each place. Place 4 ounces (use that food scale you bought before surgery) of protein on a real plate and a pile of some sort of vegetable using measuring cups.

Meals should not be complicated depending on where you are in the journey you can buy a pound of chicken breast that are already thinly sliced, sprinkle each side with the seasoning of your choice, cook on a nonstick grill pan for about four to 6 minute it’s fast, just until it’s not pink and maybe even a little brown on the outside. Once they are cooked. Put them on a serving plate, but let them sit for a second or too. Meanwhile, put a handful of pre washed salad greens from a bag in a large bowl, add a little tomato, onion, cucumber with your favorite dressing and toss to coat in the bowl before you plate so you are not eating 1/4 cup of Ranch. Then, slice each piece of chicken just like they do in the restaurant. We eat with our eyes first, so take a minute to create a pretty plate.  Then, carefully arrange the chicken and salad on a plate put it on the table. Play like you are dining in a restaurant and enjoy a meal with your family. Who wouldn’t want to eat like this?


Then sit down, take a peek at the clock and make a mental note of the time. Then take a small bite of protein and put the fork down while you check. Before you take the next bite, stop and think for a moment or two before you proceed. Consider if you’re still hungry. How do you feel? If you need a minute to let the food settle. Take it. If you’re ready, move on with the next bit. Continue this way until you’ve eaten half of your protein and then start alternating a bite of your salad in between bites of protein, monitoring your status in between each bite until you just don’t want anymore. Not until you are full, just until you don’t want more. If you hiccup first, you’re done. If your nose starts to run first, you’re done. If you get a weird almost painful sensation in your mouth, you’re done. If the clock has gone past the 25 min mark? You’re done, I’ll circle back to that point in a second.

Think about that moment though. Sometimes it happens when we’re chewing but there is often that subtle pang where you just don’t want any more. You aren’t interested in even swallowing what you’ve just chewed. That’s what you’re looking for, not the full feeling, you’re looking for that feeling. It’s just a fleeting feeling of “No more.”

Most people actually have a physical cue for this point, but most don’t realize it and many ignore it. I personally hiccup Once. Even 22 years post op, I hiccup as a warning I am fixing on going over my line. Like I mentioned above, some sneeze or have a runny nose. It can be startling but its normal.

When you hit that point, put your fork down. Stand up, scrape the remaining food into the garbage disposal, and wash the plate or put it into the dishwasher. Now you can move on with your day. Do NOT save that plate for “later” that’s where eating stops and grazing begins. You have other meals you can eat, other foods to combine. Picking and eating off the same plate for hours is grazing and it’s how you eat around your surgery. If you eat to the point of satisfaction you’ll notice that you’ll be satisfied for hours and you won’t need as many snacks, and you’ll be able to last longer in between meals.

Now about that 25 minute mark. A big thing people like to do in our support groups is proclaim that a meal took them 45 minutes or even an hour to complete. Or that they nibbled on it all afternoon. THat’s not something to be proud of. In fact, that’s called Grazing and it’s a fantastic way to stop weight loss in its tracks and create a habit that will lead to Regain. Why? It’s eating around your surgery. How? Because when you eat for longer than about 20-30 minutes you actually start physically pushing the food out of your pouch or sleeve, or even past your LapBand and into your stomach. This means you’re forcing yourself to eat a larger portion of food and literally eating around your surgery. You’ll never feel full, you’ll never get satisfied eating this way. If you’re doing this and struggling with constant cravings and hunger, this is precisely the reason.

That’s how you mindfully eat a meal to avoid creating a habit of grazing. Protein filled you up and created “Satiety”, which is that feeling of Satisfaction we never acknowledged before surgery. That’s actually how most of those “naturally thin” folks we all know have been eating this whole time.

Try this exercise in eating and I bet a little changes about how you feel, and how your scale starts acting!

>~~ Embracing Bariatric Life with a Smile, Suzi Shaw!


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