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Life after Bariatric Surgery

By Jeff Butts

Create an environment that supports your intention

I realized I had a choice. My life after bariatric surgery could feel like an endless diet or I could adjust to my new normal. I chose mindful eating to help me establish my new normal and decided to create an environment that supported me in that. I started by making my kitchen and pantry convenient for someone like me with a small pouch.

White Dishes and Bowls in Kitchen CabinetSoon after bariatric surgery, I got tired of reaching way up to the top shelf to get small plates because my cabinet was set up the way most are: with the big plates and other frequently used items on the bottom. I moved all the dinner plates to the top shelf and put the small dishes and bowls on the bottom where they were easy to get to and use. I set up a cabinet near the stove with small re-usable containers and lids that made it easy to portion out leftovers in sizes that worked for me. I filled a container on the counter with small (baby-sized) spoons so they were convenient, reminding me to take small bites and eat mindfully (read Speed Bumps for other ideas).

Early in my bariatric surgery journey, I realized that since I was only able to comfortably eat such small portions, it was important for food to taste good. I found helpful advice online about stocking a pantry, so I loaded mine with staples, ingredients, and seasonings that made cooking easier. I had the components for almost any recipe I might find and want to try. I rediscovered my joy of cooking when I had all the tools in place.

In Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating Workshops, I had learned that those of us who struggle with overeating are usually “food suggestible.” I made the decision to keep foods around that I loved but that wouldn’t “call my name” from the pantry! I keep plenty of quick, tasty, healthful foods that fit my eating plan and work well for me and my smaller pouch so I don’t experience feelings of restriction or regret. Having a supportive environment frees up my time and mental energy to focus on something other than food!


About the author

Jeff Butts is a facilitator of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Program and Mindful Eating for Bariatric Surgery. He is a Wellness Coach, inspirational speaker, and Bariatric Support Group Leader. Jeff’s mission is to “Help others free themselves from the physical and emotional prison of obesity by sharing my experience, my wisdom, and my heart.” Jeff’s passion for helping others stems from his own personal struggle with food and weight. Reaching a weight of 643 pounds, Jeff knew he had to do something to regain his health and get back into life. Upon looking into bariatric surgery, he realized that it was just a physical tool, and that he also needed help to deal with the emotional reasons he ate. Through a twist of fate he discovered that Dr. Michelle May’s Am I Hungry? program was the additional tool he needed! He had bariatric surgery in 2008 and has maintained a 419 pound weight loss and leads five Bariatric Support Groups for St. Vincent’s. Jeff now teams with his Am I Hungry? teacher, mentor, and friend, Dr. Lori Hurst, to offer Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating Workshops throughout central Indiana. He also offers Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Bariatric Surgery workshops and webinars. A recording of Jeff’s webinars is available for facilitators-in-training. He also speaks frequently to local schools, colleges, civic, and health organizations. Jeff serves on the Board of Directors of GasAmerica’s Charitable Foundation and Board of Directors of PAWS, a pet rescue in Hancock County, Indiana. He volunteers at Hancock Regional Hospital, Kenneth Butler Soup Kitchen, as a Big Brother, and foster parent for PAWS animals as they look for their forever homes.

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