Rising Above Cravings

Rising above cravings after Lap Band, gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy

How to resist evolutionary temptation

If you’re one of the many patients of weight loss surgery who has given in to the call of cravings, it may be tempting to blame yourself for the transgression. After surgery for Lap Band, gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy, controlling your eating habits and staying within the strict guidelines of your bariatric diet are essential for success—letting cravings for unhealthy foods get the best of you can be both frustrating and detrimental to your progress.

The fact that these cravings are hard-wired into our bodies may not be encouraging to weight loss patients who routinely crave beignets over broccoli, but learning strategies that help you overcome them may be just what you need to keep moving forward. Here’s why cravings are so deeply ingrained in every person and how to get the better of them.

Cravings: The Biological Explanation

Mankind’s complex relationship with carbs, fats and salt dates way back to the Stone Age when food cravings helped our ancient ancestors determine which foods would best provide energy in the form of sugar, fat and essential minerals. These were hugely important for early humans, who faced limited food supplies and constant physical activity that helped them stay slim regardless of how many carbs or grams of fat they ate each day. Instincts

In modern times, however, our food supplies are plentiful and many people lead fully sedentary lives, making these reliable old food signals obsolete. Still, evolution is a slow process—despite the fact that we no longer need these craving cues to figure out what to eat, they still haunt us from the depths of our most ingrained predispositions.

Saving Yourself from Craving

It can be tough to resist the pull of these deeply-entrenched cravings, but it isn’t impossible. One of the best methods of resistance is to change your inner argument against them, reframing the struggle against these yearnings in a more positive way.

When your brain and body work in collusion to convince you to eat an unhealthy food, you may resist with thoughts about how you “can’t” eat them or utter the ageless drug-resistance adage and “just say no.” But changing that “can’t” into a “don’t” will be much more helpful in keeping yourself from eating giving in.

After bariatric surgery, don’t think about unhealthy foods in terms of what you’re restricted from eating. Instead, think of how you’re making your lifestyle healthier. Those aren’t the foods you can’t eat anymore, they’re the foods you choose not to eat because you’ve made the decision to take control of your life and become a healthier, happier individual.

This tactic can empower your refusal to give in, helping you strengthen your will and become more self-aware in your voluntary decision to rise above troublesome cravings. Don’t focus on who you were before—focus on who you are becoming. Cravings may be part of your biological makeup, but you have the power to create your own identity. Identify yourself as someone who chooses the healthy option.

By taking your thoughts off the sacrifice, you make it easier to focus on the accomplishment. Instead of beating yourself up for giving in to cravings, celebrate each time you successfully resist them. Realize that changing your life in any significant way will always take time, but that you have the power to learn from and rise above your mistakes—regardless of any biological pitfalls you’re hard-wired to face.

As a patient of weight loss surgery, you’ve made a big step towards changing your life for the better. You might not be able to change your biological partiality towards unhealthy foods, but you can make the decision to stay healthy in spite of them.