What you eat after bariatric surgery is important. But how you eat, is a huge part of new eating habits as well.
Eating slow is part of mindful eating after bariatric surgery. But it’s easier said than done, right?
It all sounds so simple. But this is far from true. The process of eating, chewing and swallowing is so automated, that it becomes so much more challenging to be mindful about it. You hardly ever have to think while you’re eating, because why should you as your subconscious already got that part covered.
But after bariatric surgery things change dramatically. Especially, if you’re still adjusting to your new stomach. Now, you have to eat slower, otherwise you’ll risk dumping syndrome.
Also now, you have to mind your eating pace, because nobody wants that “one bite too many” getting stuck making you run to the restroom.
But more about that later.
In this blogpost, we give you 4 simple tips to slow down during your meals. But first, let’s learn more about why it’s actually necessary to pace yourself.
Why is it important to eat slow after bariatric surgery?
You may wonder why it’s recommended to eat slower once you had bariatric surgery.
Well, there are 2 main reasons we’d like to point out.
First, if you eat too fast, you’re more likely to overeat. Why? Because it takes about 20 minutes for your pouch to signal your brain that it’s full. If you eat too fast, you’ll miss this cue. This leads to eating a larger portion than you wanted to.
Second, eating fast can potentially cause digestive issues. Bariatric surgery changes the digestive system which automatically puts you at higher risk for digestive complications like nausea, stomach pain and vomiting. Eating fast can amplify these symptoms. It’s usually recommended to chew at least 20 times on each bite before you swallow.
For some foods this may be more logical than for others. Chewing on a raspberry is completely different than chewing on a piece of steak. A bite of yogurt barely requires chewing at all. You can always fall back on the rule of thumb that your food should have the texture of apple sauce before you swallow: soft, mushy and chunk-free!
Okay, let’s move on to our 4 best tips to slow down when eating.
4 Tips to eat slower after bariatric surgery
Now let’s dive into our 4 tips to slow down when you’re eating.
1. Don’t put food in your mouth -when there’s food in your mouth
Make sure to swallow every bite before you take another one. Don’t take another bite when you’re still chewing.
2. Push your plate away after each bite
This will stall you. If you push your plate away it’ll take you longer to finish your meal.
3. Put down your utensils after each bite
The same goes for putting down your utensils. It can look like a whole ritual at the dinner table. But trust us, it works when you want to slow down eating.
4. Get rid of all distractions and focus on your meal
Distractions like watching TV can take away from your pace. If you’re not eating mindful, you’re more likely to eat faster. Focus on your meal – or on the conversations at the dinner table.
Slow, but not too slow
Eating slow is important, but there’s a caveat. Slower isn’t necessarily better. When it takes you longer than 30 minute to finish one meal, it’s time to stop eating. The reason behind this, is that eating too slow promotes grazing behavior.
And grazing is one of the main reasons for weight regain after bariatric surgery. Also, if you continue to eat for more than 30 minutes per meal, you probably miss your fullness cues quicker, because you don’t really get “that” satisfied. If you want to make sure that you stick to your eating schedule, set a 20–25-minute timer making sure you set the right pace.
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- Canterini CC, et al. (2018). Rapid Eating is Linked to Emotional Eating in Obese Women Relieving from Bariatric Surgery. Obesity Surgery: 28 (2): 526-531.
- 2. Parkes E. (2006). Nutritional management of patients after bariatric surgery. American J Med Sci: 331 (4); 207-213.
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