Hospital:

Overcoming Bariatric Challenges: Food Grief Relief

January 22, 2020

While it may be hard for some of us to admit, food plays a large role in our lives. From birthdays to funerals, people use food as a staple to celebrate and gather together. After bariatric surgery, your relationship with food changes in ways you need to prepare for. You will still be able to enjoy food, just in a different way than you’re used to. This is why a lot of bariatric patients go through a “food grief” stage.

As with any relationship, you need to determine what kind you want to have with food. For some of us, food is like a clingy friend that constantly needs attention. When you have unhealthy relationships like that, it’s time to make a change.

Developing a healthy relationship with food can be difficult at first. Some patients miss being able to indulge in unhealthy comfort foods that they are used to, causing feelings of “food grief.” They may even second guess themselves about whether or not they made the right decision.

For most patients, it takes a few months to fully feel the positive results of the surgery. You have to stay strong and focused. Try to create new habits; find new hobbies (i.e., hiking, yoga, meditation, journaling, volunteer work); practice self-care, positive thinking, and mindfulness; and cross new things off your bucket list!

When your internal reward system no longer revolves around food, success comes so much easier. The foods you love will find a place in your life again, but not as a leading role! It’s liberating to know that unhealthy foods can’t control your life anymore.

Don’t worry - you aren’t expected to overcome “food grief” alone. At Jefferson Health in New Jersey, the Bariatric Surgery Program has dedicated and compassionate surgeons, nurses, dietitians and wellness coordinators who are there to help you every step of the way. They can teach you how to create a healthy meal plan and overcome stressful challenges, so you can live your best life!

Submitted by Jacquelyn Bartie, Jefferson Health General and Bariatric Surgery