Getting a sleeve gastrectomy is a big decision. Whether you’re doing it to lose excess body weight, for chronic pain treatment, on the advice of your family physician, or to reduce your risk of heart disease (losing between 5% to 10% of your body weight should reduce your risk), you’ll be surprised to know that not everything you were told about your gastric sleeve and hunger was true.
Unlike gastric bypass surgery, a sleeve gastrectomy removes approximately 80% of your stomach. As a result, you’ll often hear that you won’t feel hunger for hours or that you may never feel hungry again. However, this isn’t true. Even after a sleeve gastrectomy you’ll feel hunger. This is normal. You need to food and water to survive. But how do you know if your hunger is natural or psychological?
Keep an eye on the time
The average person experiences hunger every three to four hours. If you begin to feel signs of hunger such as an empty feeling or your stomach gurgles and it’s been at least three hours since the last time you ate, you’re most likely experiencing physical hunger.
When it’s been less than three hours and you’re feeling physical signs of hunger, it could be that your previous meal wasn’t filling enough. For instance, salads often leave those who eat them feeling hungry before three hours have passed because it’s protein and fiber that can give you that sense of fullness. Liquids such as shakes and smoothies can also leave you wanting more. Try adding lean meats or beans to your meals.
Another reason you may be feeling hungry before three hours have passed is that you’re thirsty rather than hungry. This isn’t always the case, but feelings of thirst can often leave a dry feeling in the back of your throat which is similar to a feeling of hunger. Drink a glass of water if you feel like this after an hour or two.
If you still feel hungry after around 15 to 20 minutes then it may really be hunger you’re feeling. Make a meal or a snack that’s good and hearty. Then eat the meal slowly so you don’t digest it too quickly.
Consider your emotional state
Many people tend to eat because they’re bored or depressed. Good food can often make us feel better and can give us something to do with our hands. If it’s been less than three hours and you’ve determined that you’re not really hungry hungry, then consider doing something else to make yourself feel active.
Taking a shower, reading a book, or going outside for a walk can give you something to do even when you don’t feel like doing anything. Consider the small things you can do to keep yourself active. Boredom is often your biggest challenge.
Having a sleeve gastrectomy may give you the false idea that you’ll never be hungry again. However, we all need food in order to live. It’s how we get our vitamins, nutrients, and energy for productivity. You can still feel hungry even when you really aren’t. Be sure to keep an eye on the time in order to figure out if you really are hungry or if you’re eating because of bored.