Changes in eating patterns are common among patients seeking treatment for weight loss. About 70% of patients in the preoperative period of bariatric surgery suffer some alteration in their normal eating pattern. Possible reasons for this elevated prevalence are related to ineffective treatments for weight loss prior to bariatric surgery, such as: use of drugs that alter their center of satiety, frequent use of ineffective diets and nutritional deficiencies very common to this population which can lead to compulsive eating. These factors may act in isolation or in synergy.
The most common changes are: habits of eating sweets regularly, the so-called sweet eaters, snackers, night eaters, as well as periodic binge eaters. Sweet eaters have a habit of consuming sugary and sweet foods that add up to more than 150Kcal / serving at least twice a week. Snackers are in the habit of consuming salty snacks at least twice a week. Night eaters have a habit of consuming half the daily calories after dinner, and in addition to this, they show two symptoms: insomnia and morning anorexia (lack of appetite in the morning). Periodic binge eaters consume a large amount of food within a certain period of time (up to 2 hours), and have a feeling that they have lost control of the situation.
How can we prevent these changes in eating patterns from becoming worse?
Below are 10 tips:
- Reduce the use of very restricted diets over a lengthy period of time;
- Avoid “fad” diets or diets that totally exclude a given food group. This can increase the risk of food cravings;
- If you give attention to electronic devices during meals, this can distract you and make you lose track of what you are eating;
- Avoid watching TV at meal times. Try to focus on your meal and on the feeling of satiety that it provides;
- Put your silverware down after you take some food. This will give you time to chew your food and help you to eat more slowly;
- Try to do physical activity regularly. This helps control compulsive eating;
- Check to see if you have any nutritional deficiencies. Some dietary deficiencies are associated with complsive eating.
- Try to include protein sources when you feel more hungry. Protein is a macronutrient that gives you a feeling of being full;
- Try to register your food intake during at least 4 days, so you have an idea of what you are eating. If possible, show this register your nutritionist for evaluation. This will help in elaborating strategies to improve your diet;
- Avoid stocking foods at home that easily lead to overeating, such as sweets, savory snacks and/or ice creams.
It is always good to seek support from an experienced team that has worked with patients suffering from obesity and eating disorders. Psychological and / or pharmacological treatments may be necessary.