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Nik Manifesto: About Hunger

I guess you can call this another of my manifestos. But I’m
not angry about anything so…not sure if that fits.

People ask me about hunger a lot. It confuses them. And it is confusing in general. What is hunger? And especially, what is
hunger after weight loss surgery?
These are good questions (which I’m not even going to try to
answer here…well sorta).
People commonly conceive hunger in a certain way. There is
that vacant feeling in the stomach, the low blood sugar and, of course, the
growling of the stomach. In reality, all that is just the finale to a plot your
body has carried out to try to get you to eat. The first assaults are more
subtle. You smell something good and think of food. Or your mind just randomly
wanders to it. Usually that’s enough to make you want to go get something to
eat. When your body has to pull out the big guns (physical cues), it means
business!
But after weight-loss surgery? Not so much. Instead, the “organ-formerly-known-as-the-stomach”
is pissed with you. And in some cases it’s been rewired. So maybe it feels
empty or maybe it always feels full. Maybe it hurts. Maybe it’s queasy or
maybe, depending on the type of day you are having, you forget it’s in there at
all.
OR maybe you don’t. Many Foodies have told me they felt
hunger immediately after surgery. In general this was met with some measure of
horror and fear of regain.
So here’s a few things I know:
  •  Hunger, in general, refers to whatever your body
    needs to do to get you to eat to support your activity with nutrition
  •  But collectively, hunger can also represent
    cravings for things we don’t necessarily need to support our activity with
    nutrition

Having said all that, how should YOU handle, hunger (or lack thereof). That’s a
good question…for your nutritionist! Seriously, I’m no guru, but I will share
the following pieces of common sense wisdom.
  •  Unless it is painful or makes you physically ill
    to do so, you should try to take in
    nutrition every few hours
    . You’d be surprised how many post-ops I experience
    who don’t eat simply because they are not hungry. This seems like it makes
    sense right? Wrong! You stop eating and eventually your body is going to start
    reacting as if you are starving. And the results are rarely pretty.
  •  Eating
    does NOT = solid food
    . If solid food turns you off, try a protein shake. If
    cold shakes turn you off, try a hot drink. But yeah…your body does need
    calories.
  • Usually
    overwhelming cravings mean something
    .
    They DON’T necessarily mean to eat the thing you are craving. Consider
    this: the same deficiency (calcium) that could make you crave ice cream can also
    be remedied with broccoli. My point here is that cravings exist in the human
    body for a purpose. We’ve become so whacked out about food that we can’t
    decipher that purpose. But when you take appetite (the desire to eat food) out
    of the equation (or at least lessen it), it is my OPINION that cravings get
    increased credibility. So what should you do? If you have an intense craving, I’d
    give a ring to your nutritionist. Talk to them about it and see if there is a
    nutrient connection and if there is a healthier way to remedy it than what you
    are craving!
  • Thirst is
    also a factor
    . Yep. Sometimes
    you’re just thirsty. If you experience hunger, try drinking a glass of water
    first. That may solve the whole problem. But in the ever-growing list of WLS
    wonkiness it can also make it worse. In a post-WLS pouch, that water is likely
    to clear out residual food and then you may legitimately get hungry. I often
    get hungry within an hour of drinking a lot of fluids.
  • Even if
    your stomach no longer growls, your body has hunger signals
    . You just have to learn them. Maybe
    your blood sugar dips and you feel dizzy or shaky. Maybe you get a headache. Or
    maybe you start to think about food obsessively. The human body is nothing if
    not adaptive. It will devise ways to let you know you need food. But you need
    to listen!
  • Hunger
    and eating capacity are two different things
    . As are eating capacity and satiety (feeling satisfied). On any
    given day, the Wonder Pouch™ is capable of eating much more than what it takes
    to meet my nutritional needs AND I’m capable of eating when no hunger is
    present. Both of which could cause regain. I just thought I’d point that out
    especially for pre-ops and newbies. There may be a time when you are capable of
    mindless eating. We can only hope by then you’ve built a good support system to
    prevent it!

So there you have it. My thoughts on hunger. Not anything
complex or controversial. But I would like to close with this thought. It’s
normal and natural to be afraid of hunger. It’s a part of the process. This is
why I don’t knock people for being hunger-phobes, carbophobes or any other kind
of “phobe.” Heck the evolution of this blog has gone through all my phobias!

But just remember that even though your goal is to lose
weight, it’s also to be HEALTHY. Don’t do anything that sacrifices your health
for the sake of a number on a scale. Remember why you did this. And then, as my
fave radio comedia Rickey Smiley (as Bernice Jenkins) says, “Govern yourselves
ACCORDINGLY!”
And if you’v fallen off track and need help, I got your back! See my “Back on Track Toolkit” for a good plan to get back on the road to right!

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