A gastric balloon is a temporary, non-surgical weight loss aide. Most gastric balloons are designed to be removed within 3-6 months after their insertion. While you will likely lose considerable extra weight while the balloon is in place, you may risk gaining the weight back once the balloon is removed if you do not create permanent changes to your dietary habits. For some patients who opt to use the gastric balloon to lose weight for a special event, this is not an issue.
However, if you intend to use the balloon to improve your overall health and reduce your weight long-term, it is important that you change your eating habits while the balloon is in place. Intuitive eating is a set of principles and ideas that helps you examine your relationship with food and understand why and how you eat. Below are some ways that intuitive eating can help you create lasting dietary changes while you have your gastric balloon in place.
Learn to Recognize Symptoms of Fullness and Hunger
Often, people cannot recognize when they are hungry or when they are full. For example, you may confuse emotions such as boredom and stress with the physical sensation of hunger. Additionally, you may not recognize when you are full if you are used to eating to a point of being overly full. Recognizing when you are hungry will help you to learn to eat before you get overly hungry, making it less likely for you to overeat. Similarly, recognizing symptoms of fullness will help you stop eating before you become uncomfortable.
While your gastric balloon is in place, it is important that you do not overeat because eating too much can cause vomiting and discomfort. To make sure you get out of the habit of overeating, use intuitive eating exercises such as setting an alarm throughout the day to assess your hunger levels or eating a small amount and then assessing your satisfaction before continuing to eat.
Change the Way You Approach Eating
Many Americans do not give adequate attention to their eating habits. For example, you may eat while you are driving or watching television, or you may rush to eat in order to get to work on time. This can lead to overeating and a lack of satisfaction. The gastric balloon can be a useful tool to remind you to pay attention to how you eat each day, because the balloon requires that you eat slowly and with appropriate posture.
However, intuitive eating exercises can help you change the way that you approach your food in general. For example, intuitive eating exercises will encourage you to create a special place to eat without distractions and to time your meals to make sure you are eating slowly and paying attention to the taste, textures, and flavors of the food you are eating.
Replace Rules With Rewards
One reason why many diets fail is because people get frustrated with the rules and rebel against them. When you have a gastric balloon in place, you may be more likely to follow dietary rules because there can be uncomfortable physical results if you do not. However, when the balloon is removed, you may revert to your old rebellious ways. By confronting dietary rules through intuitive eating exercises such as writing about your internalized rules and feelings about "good" or "bad" foods, you can prevent yourself from rebelling once the balloon is removed.
Additionally, by replacing the concept of rules with rewards, you can shift to healthier eating habits. For example, instead of restricting your calories because you want to be thin, you may find that eating less gives you the reward of feeling more energetic.
While a gastric balloon is a helpful way to lose weight, it should be paired with behavioral changes if you want lasting effects. Taking an intuitive eating course or consulting with a coach while you have your balloon in place can help you build the habits that will allow you to reach your dietary goals.
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