Friday, March 1, 2013


The band gives almost instant feedback about your eating behavior. The feedback comes in the form of Soft Stop and Hard Stop signals. In order to learn and recognize your own stop signals, you’ll need to slow down and pay very close attention to how your body feels when you eat.  If you usually eat with a crowd (family, friends, coworkers), you might need to try eating by yourself so you won't be distracted. Full signals can be subtle and they can come from unexpected parts of your body. It's better to heed a gentle reminder than wait for a hammer to hit you on the head.

Soft stops are your early warning system, gentle reminders from your body that it's time to stop eating. Because they don't hurt much, they're easy to ignore.  Your job is to recognize them (even though they may vary by the meal or the day) and heed them every time you recognize them. They can include: 

   Mild queasiness

   Fullness or pressure in the back of the throat

   Difficulty swallowing

   Burping (or the urge to burp)

   The urge to take a deep breath

   The urge to cough or clear the throat

   A sigh


   Pressure in the chest

   Watering eyes

   Runny nose

   Left shoulder pain

   A sneeze

   Excess saliva

   A full feeling just below the breastbone

   A sudden distaste for the food you were enjoying a moment before

As soon as you notice one of these signs, stop eating. If you go on eating past this point, you won't be changing your eating behavior and you're likely to get into trouble…that is, a hard stop. 

Hard stops are the equivalent of running into a brick wall. They can happen without any apparent warning, but usually you have sped heedlessly past a soft stop before you hit the wall. Hard stops are the painful and sometimes embarrassing reminders that you have eaten too much, too fast, in bites that were too big, without chewing enough. They can include:

   Chest pain or tightness (note: this sensation is happening in your esophagus, not your heart, but if you experience any symptoms of cardiac arrest, such as severe, squeezing pain that radiates down an arm, put down that fork and dial 911)

   Feeling like you have a rock in the back of your throat

   Food stuck in stoma (for me, that involved pain between my breasts, and when the food moved on through into my lower stomach pouch, it felt like a drain that suddenly opened)

   Productive burps (PB's or regurgitation)

   Sliming (excess saliva and mucus that's so profuse that you have to spit it out) 

Do not go on eating after you experience a hard stop. When the hard stop is over, you may feel fine and want to go back to your meal, but you have irritated your upper gastrointestinal system and will just be perpetuating the PB or other response if you continue to eat. You’ll end up in an endless cycle of eat-pain-eat-more pain. I strongly recommend following a liquid diet for 12-24 hours after each and every hard stop experience. For me, that alone is a motivator because after surviving my post-op liquid diet, I never wanted to drink a protein shake for the rest of my life!







Jennifer said...

I love this post!! I'm going to pay much more attention to see if I can spot some of these signs as I'm eating. :) Thanks for sharing

Jean said...

Thanks, Jennifer. Hope it helps!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the information. Can you share if "Snacking" was ever any problem for you and how did you control it?

Jean said...

If you mean snacking as in grazing all day long, that hasn't been a big problem for me. I've been a snacker in the past and I'm still one now, but my snack foods now are healthier ones and I plan the snacks into my daily eating instead of just grabbing whatever's handy. If you graze all day long, I would suggest that you make sure that your home, workplace, car, etc. are free of junk food. Also, give some thought to whether you're snacking/grazing out of boredom and come up with a list of alternate activities.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Jean! I used to have a runny nose as a soft stop and it disappeared. Thought I was on my own. Never new needing to take a deep breathe is a soft stop. Thanks for helping me find my new soft stop!

Jean said...

Wendy, you're very welcome!