Managing your emotional and psychological relationship with food is pivotal in your post-bariatric surgery journey. Whether you call it “head hunger” or “emotional hunger,” the desire to eat when not physically hungry can challenge your weight loss goals. This comprehensive article brings together expert advice on recognizing and overcoming head hunger effectively.
The Anatomy of Hunger: Physical Vs. Head Hunger
- Physical hunger is your body’s way of telling you it needs fuel and nutrients.
- Typical signs include an empty, growling stomach and may escalate to weakness, fatigue, and irritability.
- A well-balanced meal can sustain your energy for 4-5 hours.
- Head hunger is emotionally triggered, often resulting from boredom, habit, or various emotional states such as stress or loneliness.
- The desire is generally for a trigger or comfort food rather than a nutritionally balanced option.
Proven Strategies to Combat Head Hunger
1. Be Mindfully Aware
Importance of Awareness
- The first step to combating head hunger is being aware of it. A food journal can help you identify triggers and patterns in your eating behavior.
- Being present and fully aware can help you pause and distinguish between emotional and actual hunger. Mindful eating can also promote healthier eating habits.
2. Master the Art of Refusal
Just Say NO
- When you recognize the symptoms of head hunger, engage in positive self-talk to reinforce your commitment to healthier choices.
- Engage in activities to distract yourself for at least 10 minutes, which is often enough time for the craving to pass. For example, go for a walk or work on a project.
3. Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Eliminate Trigger Foods
- The environment can be a huge influence. Remove trigger foods from accessible places like your pantry, desk, or car.
- Keep a list of healthy snack alternatives handy for those times when head hunger strikes.
4. Plan B is Your Best Friend
Preparation is Key
- Create a Plan B for situations where head hunger becomes overwhelming. This could include breathing exercises, talking to someone, or engaging in physical activity.
- Join support or exercise groups to surround yourself with people who can relate to your journey. A strong support system can provide you with the emotional backup you need.
Real-world Examples and Success Stories
Several patients, like Sarah and Mike, have found great success by implementing these techniques. Sarah focused on mindfulness, while Mike found a structured eating schedule to be most effective.
Practicing these techniques will make differentiating between physical and head hunger second nature over time. For instance, if you identify stress as a trigger, your new strategy could involve taking a five-minute walk or engaging in deep-breathing exercises.
|Identified Trigger||Redirection Opportunity|
|Visit your coworker’s desk with the candy jar||Go for a 5-10 minute walk instead|
|Night-time eating from boredom||Read a good book or enjoy your hobby|
|Expensive car repairs||Get a second opinion|
|Eating fast food or convenience foods after work||Cook weekly and break down into meals for each day|
|Your boss gives you more work and you’re stressed||Call someone you trust and brainstorm how to get it done|
Combating head hunger is critical for the long-term success of your bariatric surgery and weight loss journey. By focusing on being mindfully aware, mastering the art of refusal, keeping triggers out of sight, and having a Plan B, you can successfully manage this psychological challenge. These strategies may seem challenging at first, but they will become a natural part of your new, healthier lifestyle over time. So, set yourself up for success by implementing these proven methods today!
Sources and References
Remember: Always consult your healthcare provider for personalized advice tailored to your specific post-operative needs.