I am in an interesting situation: I am a Bariatric Support Group Leader and an Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Bariatric Surgery Facilitator and Coach. These are NOT the same, as a recent experience shows.
While experiencing a relapse after WLS, one of my bariatric support group attendees called and said, “Jeff, help! I’m eating normally again!” I immediately thought, “No, you’re eating abnormally again! You’re old habits have crept back in.” She had gotten away from the things that had made her successful at first: watching portion sizes, drinking protein shakes, and following other post-WLS guidelines. She had recently gone through a broken relationship and struggles in her workplace—you know, the usual stuff we all go through in our post WLS journey—and she lost her way.
It’s so important for people to understand that a relapse after WLS is common, and the honeymoon phase is temporary. We all start out great, putting ourselves and our health first for a change, maybe for the first time in our life. We take the time we need to eat slowly, eat enough protein, drink enough fluids, and so on… then real life sets back in. Maybe job changes, family issues, relationship problems, and without even realizing it, we have slipped back into our old habits because it’s easy and food is how we have coped in the past.
I walk a fine line as a Bariatric Support Group Leader. While I can be supportive and provide practical suggestions for getting back on track, I know that most people who have had bariatric surgery would really benefit from going beyond the usual tips and strategies; they need to transform their relationship with food.
Unfortunately, like this caller, most of the people in my groups haven’t had the good fortune of going through the Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating Program for Bariatric Surgery program as I have. I know what a valuable tool it would be for them. Mindful eating after WLS teaches us how to build new, more emotionally and physically healthy ways to deal with all life’s challenges besides using food as our friend (or drug!). We learn how to recognize and use hunger and satiety to guide when, what, and how much to eat. We learn how to slow down and savor food, not because we should, but because it feels good. Ultimately, I know that instead of trying to be “good” and follow the guidelines for the rest of her life, Am I Hungry? would help her create a “new normal.”
Please share: What challenges have you faced after WLS?