A gastric sleeve removes the part of your stomach that produces ghrelin, a hunger-inducing hormone. With that gone, the typical person experiences little if any hunger after a gastric sleeve procedure. I certainly haven't been hungry much since my surgery. It's easy to power my way through the entire day without eating a bite.
You would think that's a good thing. Fewer meals mean fewer calories and fewer calories mean fewer pounds, right? Wrong.
Unfortunately, as I learned from my last two doctor's appointments, that's not quite the way it works. It turns out that skipping one or more meals a day isn't a good thing. In fact, it's a very bad thing. Here's why:
1. Poor Nutrition
When you skip meals, you're not only skipping calories (yea!), you're also skipping important nutrients like vitamins and protein (boo!). Over time, lack of these nutrients can cause symptoms like crushing fatigue, an immune system that only works at about half speed, and thinning of the hair. Just what everyone who has been through major surgery to improve his or her health and appearance is shooting for, hmmm?
2. Slower Weight Loss
Yes, you read that right. The fewer calories you consume, the more slowly the weight comes off your body. Blame evolution and Mother Nature for that one. Evolution has programmed our bodies to survive as long as possible in the most extreme situations possible, and as far as extreme situations go, starvation is pretty much up there on the high end. Therefore, when the body reports to the brain that it's getting far fewer calories than it needs to function, the brain sends out signals to slow metabolism down to turtle pace. Basically, the starving brain will do all it can to keep weight on your body to survive. You'll lose more weight if you eat an adequate, life-sustaining number of calories daily.
3. Brain Fuzz
If you're starving yourself, whether you actually feel hunger in your stomach or not, your body knows what is happening. Just like a car doesn't function well without oil and gas, your brain and body do not function well when deprived of key nutrients. Thus, if you're fasting, you may find yourself making stupid mistakes at work, losing your temper with your kids or your partner for no reason at all, or crying hysterically over a sentimental commercial.
This doesn't mean that you have to stuff food in your mouth until you explode. My bariatric surgeon recommends eating three to four small meals, featuring protein as a main ingredient, throughout the day. She also recommends taking a multi-vitamin to cover anything that may be missing from my diet.
If you've had surgery a few months ago and feel like you just haven't gotten your old verve back, take a look at the way you're eating? Are you remembering to eat at least three meals a day? Are you focusing on healthy foods instead of junk? If not, a few simple dietary changes could be all that is needed to help you feel like your old self again.