Is “Head Hunger” a Loophole for Failure After Weight Loss Surgery?


Spend time listening to the talk among weight loss surgery patients and you’re bound to hear the expression “head hunger.” It’s a popular term to describe a mental craving for food versus a physical hunger. Patients who regain weight and are not compliant with the dietary rules established by their bariatric centers often claim the head hunger was too powerful and forced them to eat foods known to cause weight gain or known to slow weight loss. Foods such as pretzels, chips, sweets, pastas and baked goods are against the rules of weight loss surgery, yet these are the foods patients eat when suffering from head hunger.

The nature of the gastric bypass or lap-band weight loss surgery reduces physical appetite during the initial months following weight loss surgery. Most patients report a complete loss of physical appetite which of course is one of the components that makes weight loss surgery successful.

So why are so many patients regaining weight or stalling before reaching their weight loss goal? Head hunger. It seems to be the loophole that enables a patient to break the rules and not take responsibility for non-compliance.

While I understand there is an emotional attachment to food I also say using the head hunger loophole is self-defeating and unnecessary. Successful patients do not use the term nor do they indulge “head hunger.”

Prior to WLS patients had another kind of “Head Hunger”- head hunger to lose weight, to be healthier, to be more attractive. That head hunger was so extreme nights were spent lying awake plotting the next argument to the insurance company, defending their personal obesity crisis and fighting for this miracle of modern medicine. Head hunger? THAT was head hunger.

It seems counterintuitive that patients who fought so hard for to have WLS now want to say “Oh, I’m so hungry for chocolate cake or Alfredo sauce or XYZ, just this once it’s OK – I deserve one little treat!” This thinking is exactly what got us to morbid obesity in the first place! I say, forget about food head hunger – do not indulge it for one minute. Instead focus head hunger on the lighter, more attractive more confident person you fought to become. The chocolate cake is nothing, it has no power. Forget about it, it just doesn’t matter anymore.

Kaye Bailey © 2005 – All Rights Reserved

An award winning journalist and former newspaper editor Kaye Bailey brings expertise in writing and personal experience with gastric bypass surgery to Having spent most of her life overweight Ms. Bailey is strongly empathetic toward the obese, particularly overweight children. This compassion compelled her to found the website LivingAfterWLS [] a fast-growing resource of information, understanding and support for the weight loss surgery community.

The site is complimented with daily blog. The blog, LivingAfterWLS Blog offers readers the chance to comment or leave feedback about fresh content added daily. Complementing the site is a monthly newsletter titled “You Have Arrived” available exclusively to people who subscribe through the website or the blog.

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Author: Piyawut Sutthiruk

Losing weight will keep you healthy and have a long life. Cheer Up!

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