Mystery of Appetite Suppression

by Christine on September 16th, 2011

filed under Gastric Banding Surgery

As I was reading up on the whole process behind appetite, hunger levels, and appetite suppression, I kept coming across information about a hormone called Ghrelin. This is my own take on the information that I’m reading.

Ghrelin is a hormone produced by cells in the stomach and pancreas that stimulates hunger. Before you eat a meal, ghrelin levels rize, consequently signaling to your brain “Hey man! I’m hungry!”  To turn off the ghrelin, people typically eat food; if you eat enough food, ghrelin decreases and you’re less hungry.

Ghrelin is regulated by the hypothalamus, which we have no mental control over. No amount of “willpower” can change how the hypothalamus works.  However, the gastric band can actually work to control your hypothalamus!  When normal people eat, the foo consumed stretches the upper stomach as it works its way en route to the lower stomach. When this streching happens, the hypothalamus sends out a hormone (pro-opiomelanocortin), which suppresses ghrelin. If you don’t eat, the upper stomach isn’t stretched, so you’re hungry.

With gastric band patients, when you eat, your food remains in the upper stomach for a longer than normal period, keeping the upper stomach stretched out. Consequently gastric band patients feel full after just a few bites of food.  Smart patients will quit eating soon after that, or at least moderate the amount of food that they eat. (It is very easy to get used to the “full” feeling and start to ignore it.)

This is one reason why your doctor tells you not to drink when you’re eating food. Liquids will help wash that food out of your upper stomach, into your lower stomach, thereby reducing the amount of “stretch time” you’re getting. Consequently you’re more apt to feel hungry sooner after your meal.  I would think that foods that are more fiberous, that stay in the upper stomach (take a little more time to break down), may also help you feel fuller for longer.

Interestingly, there have been a lot of studies that show that mere surgery alone can have an effect on ghrelin levels. Gastric bypass patients have been known to show an actual drop in ghrelin levels following surgery, where as gastric banding patients experience a drop in hunger but not in actual ghrelin. With sleeve gastrectomy, the area of the stomach that produces ghrelin is removed.

Researchers apparently are working on some miracle anti-obesity vaccine right now that would prevent ghrelin from reaching the central nervous system, thereby helping to suppress the appetite and preventing weight gain. Preliminary studies are being done on rodents and pigs.


138.0 pound (87 pounds lost) It’s frrriiiiidayyyy!

by Christine on August 6th, 2010

filed under Christine's Life Updates

I'm back!

Well, my camera is, anyway. My nice, new camera! Same model, different color. It’s a Canon PowerShot SD780 IS, this time in cherry red. That’s-sa niiiice! The minute I got home last night I busted that bad boy out of its box, popped in my old SD card and battery, and gave it the good old thumbs up!

(Then I looked at the picture and said, “Jesus! Look at how skinny my face and arms look! But holy crap look at those stretch marks on the arm! Yeah I cropped that out of this picture. That’s another post for another day.)

Yesterday I had the case of the non-appetite. That’s one of those recent phenomena that I’ve never really experience prior to weight loss surgery. Non-appetite? WTF does that even mean? Before, I’d eat a horse, just because I could.  Now…I’m like, “Food? Meh.”  I had my usual almonds for breakfast, nothing for a snack (strange), then heated up my usual soup for lunch. Except my appetite completely left me, so I just sipped on the broth and threw the “meat” of the soup away!  No snack. Dinner at my friend’s house, and I didn’t even feel like eating anything (but knew I had to), so we just munched on some leftovers. I forced myself to eat half a grilled pork chop and a little bit of rice. I threw some salt on the rice (I didn’t want any sauce of any kind) and today my fingers are all bloated up. No wonder, Sherlock.

This morning the scale was 138.0. So close to a new low! Provided that I don’t blow it in NYC this weekend, I feel confident that I’ll see 137 next week.  Since I was about 175 or so, my weight has been coming off in chunks. I’ll get 2-3 weeks of a plateau, and then my body will drop 2-3 pounds in one day. That drop has been slowing down, too, to only 1 pound every 2 weeks, but that’s okay. I’m close to my goal, I’m still doing well, and I’m still seeing a drop. I’ll take it!

This morning I thought my appetite was back with a vengeance! I had 1 cup of cheerios that I devoured, but when I tried to drink the leftover milk, I nearly barfed on myself. Fickle tummy today, eh?

I had no workout this week, can you believe it?  This weekend I plan on getting a LOT of walking in, in NYC.  Then, next week is a much slower (aka: not busy) week THANK GOD!!  I’ll have plenty of time to get gymming in. S’all good. Heavens knows that I need a few calm days to just kick back and relax a bit!

This week in blogland, there’s all kind of “scuttlebutt” (great word, Allan) going on about the proper way to lose weight, people getting all up in shit about people’s diets and exercise and stuff.  My general thought is this: People come to the decision to lose weight at different points in their life. Some people are wholly committed, right away. Others approach it a little more trepidatiously. Some people are totally knowledgeable about how weight loss works; others are utterly clueless and need to do some educating in the process. The point is: when I read blogs about people that are doing stuff that I know won’t help them achieve their goals, I just chalk it up to the fact that they are at a different point in their process than me, or are seeking a different way to lose weight than me. There’s not one way to lose weight. There are many paths that can get you there, and I’m not going to say that my path is the best way, fastest way, or only way to get there.  My path has worked for me, and for that I’m entirely grateful! Furthermore, I eat crap foods periodically. I know I do. I don’t like that I’m weak-willed and have emotional breakdowns, but I’m learning. I’m getting better. This is a process for me, too. Either way, I’m not about to cast stones at anyone else out there and yell at them for making a dumb decision because, if we didn’t make mistakes, we wouldn’t learn quite so comprehensively as we would without the mistakes.

That’s a little bit rambling, and perhaps a little vague too (sorry about that). I just wanted to say: I hope that I approach all of you and all of your blogs with an open heart, an open mind, and with compassion. If there’s any way that I can help you, please just ask. I don’t have all the answers, and there are certainly more educated people than me out there that know about weight loss. But don’t hesitate to stop by and ask a question, ask for support, whatever. I know that we’re all different people, with different personalities, at different stages in this whole weight-loss “game.”  ‘Tis okay because I love reading about your own journeys and explorations. That’s how I learn — from reading about your experiences, too.  I love you guys!


Friday Update & Doctor’s Visit

by Christine on July 23rd, 2010

filed under Christine's Life Updates, General Information

Happy rainy Friday to you, Revolutionists!

Here’s a general update on my food and my life.  Yesterday it was purely painful to sit through work, not just because it’s a pretty painful job, but because I felt miserable. For breakfast I had a handful of almonds (100 calories). I had some orange juice that I sipped on all day (120 calories). For lunch I had some chicken noodle soup (120 calories).

After work I went over to a friend’s house. My head was stuffy and congested, and I was so tired I could barely keep my eyes open! I begged him to let me take a nap before having dinner. I probably should have gone home and canceled my plans, but I have a big problem overextending myself saying no and canceling when I’ve committed to a plan.  He graciously said yes, and was patient as I zonked out. I don’t even remember laying down.

When I woke up, we made homemade crab cakes. I wish I had thought to look up the calories of the ingredients as we were cooking, but I was really out of it.  Normally I would take a mental tally of everything! We used: canned crab meat, lowfat mayo, and spices. Then we lightly breaded the cakes and fried then in EVOO. The cakes were pretty small, but because of the oil I’ll guesstimate the crabcakes at perhaps 200 calories, but really it was probably less than that. We made some cous cous (75 calories) and a side leafy green salad with light cesar dressing (60 calories).  I was stuffed, and the crab cakes were wonderful!  It was lovely to have dinner with a good friend, and we always have so much fun making homemade food.

Yesterday’s calories rang in at: 675. Much lower than normal, probably because I didn’t have a mid-afternoon snack.

Today I woke up and still felt miserable.  I was talking to my co-worker about this lingering cold, and he recommended that I call my doctor. Because I have some underlying health issues that may be contributing to this cold feeling worse than normal, I thought, what the heck? So I called my fantastic, awesome, amazing doctor and she said, “YES COME IN RIGHT AWAY.”  Oh boy!   I hope she gives me some meds to feel better soon! I have lots of questions for her about my underlying health issue, so this is actually very good, very productive to see her. Also, I haven’t seen her in many months, and she’s going to be blown away by how much weight I’ve lost! She’s the one that suggested the gastric banding surgery in the first place, so I am going to be happy to show her how successful I’ve been with the surgery. I owe much of my healthy, happier life to her. She believed in me when so many other doctors completely gave up on me.

Eating when you’re sick is difficult, I’ve learned, when you’re a normal-weighted person. As a fat person, I’d eat all the time, no matter what. “Loss of appetite, what is that?” But now I understand!  NOTHING sounds good to me. I crave nothing, and actually the idea of food pretty much repels me. Isn’t that funny how a body’s physiology changes?  To ensure I eat enough today, I’ve planned some of my food out:

Breakfast was some cheerios without milk (50 calories).  Mid-morning snack was almonds (100).  Lunch will be Healthy Harvest soup (180).  Mid-afternoon snack will be cheerios with skim milk (120).  Dinner will be out, since I have last-minute shopping to do. I suspect I will get soup of some kind, or perhaps a salad. I don’t feel up for any meat. I’ll guesstimate (250  calories) for my meal. Plus lots of water, all day, for the PEWC challenge! That makes 700 calories….a little low for me. Maybe I’ll throw in an evening treat of some kind to push that number to 800.

Here’s a fun note from my archives! A year ago today I heard John Williams conduct the Boston Pops at Tanglewood, for his annual Film Night. I love John Williams! He’s a god!!  Here’s a photo of me, from that night, with a photo of me, today at work:

Sorry for the “Pretty-girl, ‘facebook'” pose there. I often do not have anyone to take photos of me, so I have to take the pictures myself. It’s not a matter of me trying to look like a “hot girl” — I’m 32 years old and married for Christ’s sake! — but it’s a matter of convenience. I recently read a blog where the author was slamming the use of this “hot-girl pose” (aka: taking a picture of yourself, by yourself) but for me, it’s a matter of convenience. Just so we’re all on the same page.

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