Should I Be Snacking?

Should I Be Snacking?
Should I Be Snacking?

This is a really common question that patients ask us after surgery. Have you also been wondering this? If so, you are definitely not the only one. The rule of thumb with this is make sure you listen to your body. Soon after surgery you will most likely find that you do not have an appetite for snacks. Over time, as your body adjusts and your portions increase slightly you may find that your appetite increases and you find yourself hungry between meals.

This is a really common question that patients ask us after surgery. Have you also been wondering this? If so, you are definitely not the only one. The rule of thumb with this is make sure you listen to your body. Soon after surgery you will most likely find that you do not have an appetite for snacks. Over time, as your body adjusts and your portions increase slightly you may find that your appetite increases and you find yourself hungry between meals.

It is important not to ignore this hunger if it occurs. If you do, you are likely to be starving by your next meal, eat more and much faster and potentially become overfull and at risk of regurgitating – which nobody wants! Furthermore, ignoring hunger cues will lead you to crave sugary, more processed foods, as your body seeks the most efficient solution to your decreasing blood sugar levels.

A snack that is low in refined sugar and high in nutrition is a great solution to this, and a very normal part of the post-surgery diet, as long as you have the appetite for it. Having said that, if you find that several months down the track you still do not require snacks, that is absolutely fine too! Everyone’s body responds differently to the surgery, which is why the key message is to listen to your body! If you genuinely feel hungry then go it! If you do not then do not worry about it.

How to tell if you are actually hungry or if it is something else?

This is another common question as it can be difficult to differentiate true hunger from other factors. When you feel hungry have a think about how long it has been since you last ate, what you have had to drink throughout the day and what you are doing at the present moment. If it has been several hours since a meal, it is likely to be true hunger. Having said that, you may have just eaten, but still feel hungry afterwards. This can occur while your body is adjusting, and a few months down the track as your portions increase slightly. At this time, think about how much fluid you have had. Our bodies can often register thirst as hunger, so have a few sips of water and see how you feel after 15 minutes. If you are still hungry than have a bit more to eat until satisfied (not full!). Also consider what you are doing at the time of feeling hungry. Are you bored, sad, stressed, watching TV, having a slow day at work? Sometimes habits on ‘non-hungry’ eating can creep in. If you think this is a common habit for you consider making an appointment with our eating psychologist, who is great at providing practical suggestions to overcome this.

Top Tips For Smart Snacking!

  • Plan ahead – take healthy snacks to work or when you are going out for this day, to ensure you always have an appropriate choice on hand.
  • Portion out your snacks – this one is easy if you are packing snacks to take to work, but also important to be aware of at home. For example if snacking on nuts take a small handful (around 8 nuts) out of the packet and then put the packet away.
  • Remember mindful eating – Just as with meals, it is important to also eat mindfully with snacks. Portion control helps with this, but try to avoid munching away in front of the TV or throughout the afternoon at your desk. Allocate a ‘snack break’ and stick to that.
  • Stop when satisfied – not full. Again the same as with meals, but make sure you are listening to your body’s satiety cues and stop eating once you no longer feel hungry.

Snack Ideas:

  • 1 hard-boiled egg
  • Vegetable sticks with hummus, tzatziki, salsa, or cottage cheese
  • Nuts
  • Fruit
  • Yoghurt
  • Small tin of tuna
  • Glass of milk
  • Piece of cheese
  • Australian Medical Association
  • Royal Australian College of Surgeons
  • University of Oxford
  • Alpha Omega Alpha