Mindfulness Strategies

Seven Mindfulness Strategies that will Boost Your Weight Loss Surgery Success

March 18, 2024

Did you come home today and eat the first thing you saw in the fridge? Are you really hungry, or did you have a bad day and all the stress led to mindless eating? This mindless eating can really get you off track. Instead, let’s boost your weight loss surgery journey with some real-world, doable mindfulness strategies that work.

First, I want you to ask yourself these questions:

  • ”Am I aware of what I choose to eat? And how much I eat?”
  • ”Do I multitask (watch TV, scroll through my phone, or work) while I eat?"
  • ”Do I eat fast?"
  • ”How long does it take me to finish a meal or snack?"
  • ”Do I feel satisfied after my meal or snack?"

It’s so easy to multi-task and lose total track of food and how much you eat. After weight loss surgery, you’re working hard to eat well and develop a healthy, long-term bariatric lifestyle. Your aim is to reach for good-tasting, nutritious food that nourishes both your mind and body. But mindless eating worms its way in and can derail all of your best intentions and efforts. Instead of mindless eating, let’s amplify the success of your journey by learning and practicing the opposite of mindless eating, which is mindful eating or mindfulness.


You are present in the moment, aware of your surroundings and the food you eat.

Mindfulness means that you are present in the moment, aware of your surroundings and the food you eat. This method focuses more on how you engage in eating (such as how fast you eat, the appreciation of your food, and your personal responses to hunger). In other words, mindful eating means making conscious decisions about eating instead of eating because you're stressed, mad, sad, lonely, or bored. Also, mindful eating is NOT about willpower but rather listening to your body’s cues telling you when it's hungry and full.

A powerful tool for your toolbox, mindful eating puts you back in the driver’s seat, back in control of when and what you eat and how much. Goodbye diet and mindless eating; hello health and a successful journey.

Try these seven mindfulness strategies. No, you don’t have to do them all at once. In fact, it’s better not to. Otherwise, the strategies become like New Year’s resolutions that get kicked to the curb a couple of weeks later. They never happen. Mindfulness is a practice that you adopt over time. So start with only one of these strategies. Practice it until you feel comfortable that it's part of your lifestyle, and then add the next strategy.

Seven Mindfulness Strategies


Practice mindfulness even when you’re not eating

Say what? Why? Mindfulness is not just about food and eating. It also helps you to stay present, aware and focused on what’s happening around you. This will carry over with time to the awareness of the food you choose to eat.


Take a moment before you eat and look at your food

We eat with our eyes in that food is like eye candy. Does it look appetizing? Does the portion seem like too much or too little, or just what you need? How do you feel about it?


Eat more slowly and savor the flavors

If you live in the US, then you know we live in a gulp-and-go society where taking time to enjoy and savor a meal is NOT the norm and rarely happens. It seems like it has to be a special occasion in order to allow time to enjoy your meal. Instead, it should be the norm…the way we treat our meals every day…with time and pleasure.

So, try not to rush as you eat. Take your time to chew and savor the food. Put down your fork/spoon between bites and make the meal last 20 minutes. Did you catch that? Make your meal last 20 minutes. When you eat fast, it’s easy to eat way more than you planned to, especially if you’re hungry. Another reason to eat slowly and chew your food really well is to prevent indigestion that often occurs after weight loss surgery.

Did you know that smell plays a part in the enjoyment of eating? Taking time to smell your food and then notice the texture helps you chew more slowly and thoroughly. Remember, when you slow down and make your meal last 20 minutes, you give your body the chance to tell you it’s satisfied so you don’t overeat.

TIP: When you slow down and make your meal last 20 minutes, you give your body the chance to tell you it’s satisfied so you don’t overeat.


Enjoy your snack or meal without distractions

Distracted eating, like watching TV at the same time, lets you lose awareness of how your food tastes or how much of it you eat. It’s then so easy to overeat. You know what I’m talking about. You take a bag of something to the TV and never remember eating it…right? For 20 minutes or so, turn off the TV and put down your phone. Focus on the meal or snack.


Listen to your body’s messages

As you eat, do you notice when you’re getting comfortably full but not stuffed? It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to get the message you've had enough, so take your time. The faster you eat, the more calories and food you’ll consume before your body sends the message or cue that you’ve had enough. You want to develop these cues. They are a powerful way to learn satiety, or the feeling of fullness, and then be able to stop eating.


Feel your satiety

Too often, we deprive ourselves, only to get hungry later. When you’re hungry, it’s easy to lose your focus on eating mindfully and lose the control you had over how much you eat. Two powerful tips are to be sure your meal contains a good amount of protein, which can help satisfy you until it's time to eat again, and to eat regularly. Going long periods between meals increases hunger and decreases your success with mindfulness at meals.


Organize a mindful kitchen

Think proactively about your meals and snacks. Make smart choices and set up a kitchen to nourish yourself with healthy, handy foods. Make meal plans and collect bariatric-friendly recipes that you enjoy. When you have plans for mindful eating, you have much more control over when and how much you eat.

Remember, you don’t have to do these strategies all at once. Mindfulness is a lifestyle practice you have to adopt and learn. So start with one of these strategies. Practice it until you feel comfortable that it's part of your lifestyle and then add the next one. It works.

Bariatric dietitian Dr. Susan Mitchell is host of the podcast Bariatric Surgery Success.

Mindful Strategies
Susan Mitchell


Bariatric dietitian Dr. Susan Mitchell is host of the podcast Bariatric Surgery Success. Selected as one of the Best 35 Dietitian Podcasts, Bariatric Surgery Success was chosen from thousands of podcasts on the web ranked by traffic, social media followers, domain authority & freshness. Dr. Susan helps you conquer cravings, emotional eating and weight regain after bariatric surgery with a focus on your nutrition and health, journey and success. Read more articles by Susan!