Craving for Something
By Teresa Eaton, RN
One definition of craving is an intense desire. As an obese (or previously obese) person, chances are you not only desire food, but acceptance by the people in your life as well. Prior to your surgery, you had your own reasons for craving food. It was not just because you were hungry or because the food tasted so yummy. Like many overweight people, you probably used food as a comfort mechanism during times of stress and as a reward in times of celebration. As already mentioned, you may have craved acceptance from family, friends, and coworkers.You may have had low self-esteem and perhaps had few friends, endured job discrimination or did not receive the respect you deserve.
Your decision to have weight loss surgery hopefully came hand-in-hand with a brand new craving for not only a thinner you, but more importantly, a much healthier you… a healthier body, a healthier mind and a healthier spirit. You should be craving a life where food is not your main reason for waking up each day… a life with more energy, easy breathing, and an end to high blood pressure, sleep apnea and diabetes (or the risk of developing these morbidities).
After your surgery, your food cravings should minimize. The majority of patients complain of no appetite at all. If you do experience food cravings, it is a function of “head hunger.” Your digestive system has been altered in such a way that you cannot be craving food… as long as you are eating three adequate protein meals per day. Your mind may still be in the “habit” of thinking it is hungry, but this will subside in time. Some people may benefit from counseling. For other patients, stress, drinking coffee, or eating spicy food may increase your digestive secretions, which can be interpreted by your brain as “hunger". Eliminating these items from your life and/or taking a medication to calm your secretions may be of help.
In conclusion, if you follow the eating and drinking rules of your bariatric program, you will minimize your physical food cravings. Your desire for improved self-esteem and social acceptance should subside in time as you start to see a change in how people treat you… now that they have come to realize how special you really are and have been all along.