Your stomach is not your brain

on 12/13/12 5:40 am - Baltimore, MD


I don’t say that to be a smart ass (even though I am, in fact, a smart ass) but to address a broad range of questions folks tend to get around eating. Because it can be confusing. Questions like:

How long should I wait after drinking a protein shake to drink a beverage?

Should I measure my cottage cheese on a food scale or in a cup measure?

Why can’t I just have a few sips of water right after I eat a meal?

Because your stomach is not your brain. Your stomach (pouch, son-of-a-***** or whatever you want to call it) is concerned mostly by the volume of what’s in it. Not the content. Not even necessarily the consistency (although the consistency can affect several things that happen in your stomach and digestive tract). The stomach feels degrees of emptiness and fullness and those sensations can be heightened after weight loss surgery (although it takes some intuitiveness to really embrace the feeling of a truly empty pouch and not just our minds TELLING us we have an empty pouch).

So if you are wondering how long you should wait to drink. If you considered what you consumed a “meal” and you would like that meal to hold you for a while (and even in the absence of hunger, meals can stave off obsessive food thoughts and blood sugar drops) then you’d do best to wait at least 30 minutes before drinking behind it. It really doesn’t matter what it is. If you drink liquid on top of something there’s only two places for it to go: up or down. If it comes up it’s a horrible experience. If it goes down it does so too quickly and your body again starts the process of trying to convince you to eat.

So far as measuring and weighing food, again your stomach’s concern is fullness. That said, volume only means a certain amount in that equation as most of us learn pretty quickly. There is a difference, for instance, between eating a cup of cheese puffs vs. a cup of cottage cheese. While they both fit in that cup measure, obviously the cottage cheese is denser, heavier. THAT is what your stomach is concerned with. So next time you want to freak out about being able to eat a lot of something, consider what it is, what it’s made of and the weight of it.

Your stomach is not a brain. And it’s not plotting against you. It’s job is to collect food and begin the process of its digestion. It’s programmed to send signals when it is empty, conduct signals to you when the body needs nutrition so that you will eat and send signals (which we probably used to ignore) when you are full. Asking it to do anything beyond that is anatomically unfair.

I hope this helps explain some stuff. If not, I hope it was at least entertaining?

RNY Gastric Bypass 1-8-08 350/327/200 (HW/SW/CW). I spend most of my time playing with my food over at Bariatric Foodie - check me out!

on 12/13/12 5:57 am
RNY on 08/27/12

You always entertain us Nik but you also educate us. Thanks for the information and the time you spend helping us all.


on 12/13/12 6:21 am - Crandall, TX
RNY on 09/18/12

Yes and yes. LOL Thanks Nik!

Sherry T.
on 12/13/12 7:46 am - GA
RNY on 05/22/12

Great words of wisdom! Sometimes I forget the pouch is no longer the stomach, even though I still refer to it as my stomach.  I don't think my family will ever understand.  My mom still wants to serve up carb heavy meals.  Although with the hair loss it seems to have hit a cord because of the protein factor....she had a low protein count at her last check and now she's hoping if she eats more protein she may have some regrowth.  Gotta lov'em!

Thanks Nik!!



on 12/13/12 7:51 am - Lexington, SC
RNY on 10/30/12

Thank you for the insight! angry

on 12/13/12 8:09 am - NH

I have a serious question for you.....I have been pondering it over and over in my feeble brain (that is not my stomach). I need to gain 10 pounds, it was 15 and I did gain 5 but I am in a stall,  should/can/would it help me to drink sooner after eating to get what few hunger signals that I do experience?

I know that it is kinda weird to ask questions on how to gain weight on this forum......but I'm doing it anyway!!

High 250/Consult Weight 245/Surgery 205/Now 109
Height 5'4.5" BMI 18.4
In maintenance since June 2009

Oxford Comma Hag
on 12/13/12 9:45 am

That's a great question. My concern would be continuing to gain instead of stopping where you want. Hopefully someone chimes in on this.

How long do you wait?

I fight badgers with spoons.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255

on 12/13/12 7:55 pm - NH

I'm a damn rule follower, I wait 30 minutes. I don't have a worry about continuing to gain. I've never had an issue of regain or even bounce back. If, in fact, drinking sooner would help me to gain I could always go back to the 30 minute rule to maintain.

High 250/Consult Weight 245/Surgery 205/Now 109
Height 5'4.5" BMI 18.4
In maintenance since June 2009

MyLady Heidi
on 12/13/12 4:34 pm

As most people know I drink with meals and I NEVER experience any hunger feelings and I still can't eat much.  Tonight was pizza night, I managed to eat one slice of hamburger pizza.  Went to Wal Mart, came back two hours later and at 10 pm ate another half of a slice. That was is it for the day, plus the stupid granola bar I ate at work.  

on 12/13/12 7:51 pm - NH

I did not know that little nugget of information about you Heidi!!

High 250/Consult Weight 245/Surgery 205/Now 109
Height 5'4.5" BMI 18.4
In maintenance since June 2009

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