Countering Triggers to Overeat After Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Gastric sleeve in Mexico is pretty magical, but it can’t eliminate triggers in your life that prompt your body and mind to go into “mindless eating mode.” It takes honesty, planning, and, frankly, quite a bit of determination to get around daily triggers that can sabotage your VSG success. Below are some common triggers and tips on neutralizing them before they weaken your resolve.

Trigger #1: Getting too hungry.
There are situations all day every day that can lead to that “I’m starving” feeling. You got up too late to grab a healthy breakfast, and you’re ravenous at your desk by mid-morning. Errands are taking much longer than expected, and your stomach is screaming for lunch. It’s 10 p.m., but you can’t sleep because of the gnawing feeling in your gut. Sound familiar?

Tip: You’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating: Keep healthy snacks in your purse, at your desk, and in the car so you don’t compromise your gastric sleeve diet. And remember that sometimes thirst can be mistaken for hunger, so grab a glass of water before hitting the pantry.

Trigger #2: You’re stressed out.
Stress comes in all shapes and sizes. Relationship problems, a loved one’s illness, an impossibly long to-do list, job loss, financial insecurity…the list of possibilities is endless. And when stress hits, many of us turn to food to cope. In fact, emotional eating is something the vast majority of VSG patients have in common, and the urge doesn’t disappear after vertical sleeve gastrectomy. Strong emotions of all kinds are often triggers for overeating. Whether you’re feeling happy, sad, anxiety, etc., the siren song of food can be strong.

Tip: Pause before reaching for the fridge door. Identify what emotions you’re feeling right now. Are you tense after a fight with your teen? Worried that bills are piling up? It’s possible to be hungry and stressed, of course, but learning to put a name to your feelings will help you be honest with your motivations.

Trigger #3: Boredom.
Bored? Who’s got time to be bored? You do. Yes, we all lead busy lives, but I’d wager that most of us have hours of downtime every day, no matter how full our calendars. And with societal pressure to be working or accomplishing something at all times, any hint of downtime or boredom can be a trigger for us to do something—even if that “something” is eat.

Tip: Come up with your own rituals for unwinding that have nothing to do with food. Maybe it means a cup of tea and a book or listening to your favorite podcast. And if you struggle with the idea of being “unproductive” during downtime, reframe it in your mind as a period to recharge so you can take on the world again.

Trigger #4: Peer pressure.
Dinners out with friends, date night at an Italian restaurant, holiday gatherings with family—social engagements are nearly always built around food. And most of the time, that food isn’t exactly healthy. What to do when you’re cajoled into joining the carb fest? Like you heard in high school, “Just say no.” Of course, sometimes the peer pressure is actually an internal pressure, rather than external. No one wants to stand out as different, but it’s necessary to get comfortable prioritizing your health over pressure to compromise your VSG success.

Tip: Keep a few phrases at the ready so you don’t offend grandma when she offers her famous cinnamon rolls. Tell the truth if you can, but lie if you must (“Those look amazing, but I’ve recently discovered that my stomach doesn’t respond well to gluten.”) And maybe keep a few “before” pics on your phone so you have instant motivation if the ravioli starts calling your name.

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“Changing lives…one sleeve at a time”.