cravings after bariatric surgery
Food & Nutrition
Understanding Cravings after Bariatric Surgery

Are you experiencing cravings after bariatric surgery? Are you a sugar addict or do you love your salty, crunchy chips? We have all experienced a time when we feel like we can’t control our cravings and they just “take over” and the next thing we know is we have cleaned out our entire pantry looking to satisfy the craving. Although this could be a sign of food addiction, today we are talking about cravings after bariatric surgery and what they mean.

Why We Crave

Oftentimes, cravings are a result of some chemical imbalance in our bodies that results in our yearning for more sugar, more salt, or whatever our stomach desires. Over time, these cravings are built up in our heads to the point that we will do anything to get that “fix”. Sound familiar?

So instead of salivating over—traditionally—unhealthy foods, let’s get to the root cause of these cravings. Once the “need” is identified, we can find healthy alternatives or kill the routine altogether!

Common Food Cravings after Bariatric Surgery

1. Chocolate

Ah—that sugary, deliciousness that just melts in your mouth! Are you dreaming about it yet? When you want chocolate, aside from seeing it or, in this case, hearing about it, it is most typically because you have a magnesium deficiency

Instead of chocolate, go for foods high in magnesium such as almonds, spinach, avocados, and pumpkin seeds. And if you really want chocolate, eat dark chocolate (preferably 80% cocoa or higher); of course in moderation! Another delicious substitute is chocolate greek yogurt, such as Okios Triple Zero Chocolate.

2. Bread and Other Carbs

The one thing we tell you to limit…carbs! So it is no surprise you may experience cravings for bread, crackers, pasta, potatoes, and other high carbohydrate foods. If you are craving bread, pasta, crackers, etc. you may need more nitrogen in your diet.

Nitrogen can be found in high protein foods (the one thing we tell you to eat LOTS of) such as meat, chicken, fish, nuts, and beans.

3. Salt (aka Chips and Fries)

If you desire salty foods, it is most likely because you are chloride deficient. Some healthy swaps for a bag of chips or a basket of fries are tomatoes, lettuce, celery, and olives.

4. Sugar!

Man oh man, do I crave sugar or what? Maybe I shouldn’t tell you this but it is hard for me to go one night without having my bedtime cookie. Although I have been trying to kick the sugar habit for a while, it’s hard! It may be because if you crave sugar, you lack a lot of nutrients including chromium, carbon, phosphorus, sulfur, and tryptophan. What do you think?

So instead of going for my bedtime cookie, I try to include more chicken, fish, eggs, cheese, broccoli, cabbage, kale, and beans into my diet.

So next time you find yourself daydreaming about high salt, high sugar, and high carbohydrate foods, try these swaps and see if your cravings subside.

Morgan Schaack, RD, LD
Morgan Schaack is a registered and licensed dietitian as well as a personal trainer. Morgan is particularly interested in bariatrics, medical weight loss, sports nutrition, ​and personal training. She is an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as well as a member of the Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition. Morgan is committed to helping patients achieve their weight loss goals through nutritionl and exercise counseling.
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