Having bariatric surgery not only requires changing what you eat buy how you eat as well. In order to fully benefit from surgery, patients must retrain themselves to be attentive to their subjective experiences of hunger, eating, and satiety. Learning to eat mindfully, with full attention to the experience of eating, is an invaluable skill for people who have had, or are considering bariatric surgery.
The word mindful is synonymous with paying attention or taking care. It is not about judging your choices or yourself but instead focuses on the here and now of eating. The Center for Mindful Eating publishedThe Principles of Mindful Eating,which describes mindfulness as being composed of three parts: The first is deliberately paying attention, without judgment, to one’s experiences. The second is cultivating an openness to, and acceptance of, all experience. The third is that it happens in the present moment.
Many individuals who have struggled with obesity for much of their lives are accustomed to judging themselves, their food cravings, and their food choices. When incorporating mindfulness, a person begins to train the mind to non-judgmentally observe reactions during the stages of meal planning, food preparation, and eating. Mindful eating also involves an awareness of the whole eating experience, including emotions, thoughts, judgments, tastes, colors, aromas, and textures. By doing this one can learn what foods might satisfy his or her hunger as well as experiencing the pleasures of eating. It is also important to put aside events from the past and thoughts and hopes for the future, and instead focus on the present moment. By doing so, he or she can be truly attentive to his or her experiences while eating and can be guided by the understanding of nutritional needs, hunger, and satiety, rather than by hopes, fears, and past experience.
Mindful eating can be the cornerstone of a new relationship with food for the bariatric patient. Awareness of the present moment often helps an individual gain insight into achieving specific health goals. To learn more on mindful eating visit The Center for Mindful Eating website www.tcme.org.