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Mindless and Emotional Eating after Bariatric Surgery

By Michelle May, M.D.

Weight cycling, yoyo dieting, and disordered eating patterns are common in individuals who meet the criteria for bariatric surgery.[1–5] Further, the challenges posed by a food-abundant environment, social and emotional connections to food, chronic ineffective dieting, and eating disorders may not resolve with bariatric surgery.

Bariatric TimesIn a peer-reviewed article, The Mindful Eating Cycle: Preventing and Resolving Maladaptive Eating after Bariatric Surgery, published in Bariatric Times, we explored common mindless habits, emotional eating, and maladaptive eating that may contribute to challenges commonly seen after bariatric surgery.[6,7] We offered a structured approach for learning mindful eating skills using the Mindful Eating Cycle that may help bariatric surgery patients gain insight into why, when, what, how, and how much they eat and where they invest their energy.[8]

The addition of mindful eating skills to the clinicians’ and bariatric surgery patients’ toolbox provides conscious decision-making strategies and sustainable lifestyle changes over time. The article also includes a link to this download of a one-page reproducible handout for your patients, clients, and support groups.


  1. Mann T, Tomiyama JA, Westling E, et al. Medicare’s search for effective obesity treatments: Diets are not the answer. Am Psychol. 2007;62(3):220–233.
  2. Abiles V, Rodriguez-Ruiz S, Mellado C, et al. Psychological characteristics of morbidly obese candidates for bariatric surgery. Obes Surg. 2010; 20(2):161-167.
  3. de Zwann M, Hilbert A, Swan-Kremeier L, et al. Comprehensive interview assessment of eating behavior 18-35 months after gastric bypass surgery for morbid obesity. Surg Obes Relat Dis. 2010;6(1):79–85.
  4. Baker C, Noushad E, Padinjakara K, et al. Prevalence of eating disorder characteristics in the morbidly obese patients. Presented at: Society of Endocrinology Meetings. March 2009.
  5. Kinzl JF, Maier C, Bosch A. Morbidly obese patients: psychopathology and eating disorders—Results of a preoperative evaluation. Neuropyschiatr. 2012;26(4):159–165.
  6. May M, Furtado M, Ornstein L. The mindful eating cycle: Preventing and resolving maladaptive eating after bariatric surgery. Bariatric Times. 2014;11(2):8-12.
  7. Sarwer D, Dilks RJ, West-Smith L. Dietary intake and eating behavior after bariatric surgery: threats to weight loss maintenance and strategies for success. Surg Obes Relat Dis. 2011;(7)5: 644–651.
  8. May M, Furtado M. Am I hungry? mindful eating for bariatric surgery workbook. Am I Hungry? Publishing. 2012.





About the author

Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yo-yo dieter and the founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs and Training. She is the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: A Mindful Eating Program to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle , winner of seven publishing awards. She is also the author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating, and Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Bariatric Surgery. Michelle shares her compelling message and constructive keynotes with audiences around the country, offers workplace wellness programs, and has trained and licensed hundreds of health professionals to facilitate Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs worldwide. She has been featured on Dr. Oz, the Discovery Health Channel, and Oprah Radio, and quoted in Diabetic Living, Fitness, Health, Huffington Post, Parents, Self, USA Weekend, US News & World Report, WebMD and many others. Her personal success story was published in Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul. Michelle cherishes her relationships with her husband, Owen and grown children, Tyler and Elyse. She regularly enjoys practicing yoga and hiking near her home in Phoenix, Arizona. She and Owen, a professional chef, share a passion for gourmet and healthful cooking, wine tasting, photography, and traveling.


  1. Excellent, encouraging and needed resource. Thank you Michelle! I am passing this post on to my clients. It’s a joy to know I can always trust your approach and expertise and pass it on without reservation!

  2. Thank you Cindy! Good to hear from you and glad to know that you are out there spreading the word!

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