What is hunger?
So now that you have a gastric band let’s talk about hunger:
The first thing is to learn to recognise both physical and emotional hunger. You are probably wondering how do you recognise physical hunger and differentiate between the two? When you are physically hungry the hunger builds up gradually and when you eat this leads to a feeling of satisfaction. In contrast emotional eating builds suddenly and once you eat it leads to feelings of guilt and shame. Emotional hunger cannot be satisfied and despite eating the emotional hunger persists as food is not designed to satisfy emotions.
In order to develop a better understanding of emotional hunger you need to identify what the triggers are that lead you to eating:
- How you feel, where you are and exposure to certain foods may trigger an urge for food
- Triggers that start a food & eating behaviour fall into two groups:
- Food ~ Usually high fat & sugar processed foods
- Feelings ~ Happy, sad, angry, grieving
- Situations ~ Watching TV, trip to the cinema, long journeys & even after exercise.
Triggers start a series of events much like a line of dominos falling. Learn to recognise, understand & manage what triggers your eating behaviour. This takes practice!
Identify your “trigger” feelings e.g. anger, hurt, exhaustion, sadness, happiness.
- These are simply emotions
- They cannot “make” you do anything
- These feelings have no power
- YOU have control over your actions
Recognise the emotion for what it is
Recognise some types of food you choose may lead to overeating
Actively decide not to be fearful of food & eating
- Change a situation or routine to manage it
- Plan ahead and ask yourself, “What could I do instead?”
- Recognise that food will never permanently satisfy emotion
- Once you have identified the emotions that trigger your desire to eat, you can find other ways to comfort, nurture, calm & distract yourself without turning to food and eating
- Having a gastric band means that you will need to accept and work with change of different types:
- Physical Change, Emotional Change, Relationship Change, Social Change & Behavioural Change
STEP ONE – ACCEPTANCE
- Accept that change is not just about reduced size
- Accepting behavioural change includes food & eating behaviours
- Accept that change is hard work & ongoing
STEP TWO – RECOGNISE
- Change may be uncomfortable
- For many of us it is more comfortable to remain as we are, exerting no effort.
- Changing in size and shape is not always comfortable and may trigger difficult memories
At the start of every day, make yourself some promises, set yourself some goals:
- I am going to change because………….
- I am WORTH it because…………………
- I WILL change to achieve………………
- TODAY I am going to…………………….
- TODAY when I achieve……… I will praise myself
- I ACCEPT I may lapse & that is ok – I will use it as an opportunity to learn more about myself
Remember the Eight Golden Rules to be successful with your gastric band and along with being more mindful and developing coping strategies for when the emotional hunger creeps in you be in control of your mind, band and your life!
- Eat three or less meals per day.
- Do not eat between meals.
- Eat slowly and stop when no longer hungry.
- Focus on quality, nutritious food.
- Avoid calorie containing liquids.
- Do some form of activity for 30 minutes a day.
- Stay active throughout the day.
- Stay in contact with your clinical team.