The Thanksgiving theme is especially appropriate subject matter for this newsletter, not just because of the practice of giving thanks but because of the ritual overfeeding of Thanksgiving celebrants. It is an excellent allegory for the concept of satiety, in ways both physical and spiritual.
I often say that my pre-op idea of satiety was “Thanksgiving Dinner Full”. Because I loved food and the experience of eating (the physical aspects) and because I was trying to fill a bottomless hole inside me (the spiritual aspect), every meal consisted of huge portions with second and third helpings – so much food that I was over stuffed. I would have to stop eating not because I was satisfied but because I was so uncomfortable. As soon as the pressure and bloating in my abdomen eased up, I was ready for more food, not because I was physically hungry (in the way I know it now) but because eating was my default activity. My mom used to say that cats’ default behavior was bathing: “When in doubt, take a bath”. Mine was: “When in doubt, eat.”
I think a lot of WLS patients have eaten that way as pre-ops and, like me, struggle to identify and accept their post-op experience of satiety. They say things like, “I never feel full,” when actually, feeling full is not a sign of satiety. Satiety is feeling that you have eaten enough food, no more, no less. Enough is not the amount that makes you happy. It’s the amount that ends your physical hunger pangs. It takes a long time to retrain your conscious mind to recognize satiety and heed it. If you don’t recognize it or don’t heed it, and go on overeating in your attempt to reach your pre-op “fullness”, your overeating can cause a lot of damage, not just to your weight loss but by dilating your esophagus and/or stomach and possibly by putting so much pressure on your band that it slips out of place.
That’s why I keep harping on the importance of weighing and measuring your food before you eat it. I know plenty of bandsters who have never done that, have lost their excess weight, and haven’t had any complications, so I can’t say that weighing and measuring is a guarantee of weight loss success and prevention of complications. But I do know that mindfulness during food preparation and at mealtime is crucial for teaching yourself a new way of eating. Your old way of eating is one of the things that made you so obese that you needed WLS, so it’s time to bid it farewell.