Mindful eating is allowing yourself to become aware of your personal eating habits, without judgement,  so that you have the ability to hit pause between your triggers and your actions.

And then it clicked.  I started thinking about my bariatric patients and wondered how they could benefit from my step-by-step 30-Day Mindful Eating Challenge.  After working with private clients and groups of people with this concept and witnessing first hand, the positive impact it has on people’s lives, I was excited to test it with a group of bariatric patients pre- and post-surgery.  And the results were amazing and super exciting.  In fact the most common comment was how disappointed participants were that the challenge was over because they were encouraged and excited by their healthier eating habits and ability to self-monitor how much and what they ate while enjoying their favorite foods.  It’s like nothing that is taught in bariatric facilities pre- or post-surgery.  

Let’s face it, we live in a food-abundant environment.  We are bombarded with commercials, the grocery stores are stocked with addictive and tempting foods, and social events can cause you to default to old habits to manage any overwhelming feelings. We’re fresh out of the most challenging time of the year when it comes to our relationship with food and our body.  Couple that with either prepping for surgery OR trying to develop a healthier habits post-op, this time of year tends to be the biggest struggle from an emotional as well mental as perspective.   And surgery is a great tool, but won’t fix your emotional ties to food.  Any disordered eating patterns like binge or stress eating, weight cycling, yoyo dieting and mindless eating habits that have not been fully addressed and healed pre-surgery, will still be waiting around for you after surgery.   

Screen Shot 2017-12-18 at 3.49.41 PM.png

Surgery is a great tool but it won’t do all the work. According to ASMBS (American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery) “as many as 50% of patients may regain a small amount of weight two years or more after surgery.”  A successful surgery is one that is defined as losing at least HALF of your excess body weight.  For example, if your surgeon recommended that you needed to lose 200 pounds and you lost 1o0 pounds, that would be considered “successful” for these studies.  But for many patients, that isn’t quite the results they were hoping for with all the work it takes to finally get approved for surgery.  Which is one of the reasons why about half of all gastric bypass patients gain weight post op.  


  • Food Addiction or Psychological State
  • Lack of a Support System
  • Alcohol or Drug Abuse
  • Weight Prior to Surgery

The key is to never stop seeing your dietitian. The importance of this cannot be understated and needs to repeated.
The key is to never stop seeing them.

— Bariatric Surgery Source


Many of these may seem like common sense but make sure to find support to resolve any personal food issues before surgery.  Most patients will regain a little bit of weight after hitting their lowest weight.  This is considered normal.  In order to keep that weight regain to a minimum here are 7 key tips:

  1. Join and participate in a good weight loss surgery support group like Bariatric Weight Loss Family on Facebook.  Research shows that WLS patients who actively participate in support groups have a lower BMI (approximately 10% lower) than those who do not.  

  2. Get a grip on binge eating well before surgery.  Patients with a history of binge eating disorder (BED) may lose less weight after surgery.  Treatment for BED prior to WLS will increase your chances of losing a higher percentage or weight after surgery.

  3. Make your mental health and nutritional health a priority.  In order to be successful post surgery mental, emotional, and food stability is essential.  If you struggle with mental well-being and/or increased food cravings connect with your bariatric doctor and health care team immediately to prevent weight gain.  Patients who don’t take a proactive approach to resolving these issues tend to gain more weight back and possibly gain all their weight back.  

  4. Lose as much weight prior to surgery as possible.  Your surgeon will stress this since it will only make their  job easier when you are under the knife.  As a dietitian, I always encouraged my patients to make the surgery process as seamless as possible!  Patients with lower BMI’s pre-surgery (ie: BMI between 40 and 49.9) had a 15% higher chance of maintaining at least half of their excess weight 10 years post op than the super obese (BMI of 50 or more).  Surgery will only take off approximately half of the weight, your job is to do the other half  so starting early in the process will only help with your long-term success.   

  5. Your doctors advice is golden – follow it to the “T!”  In order to be successful with WLS, you must follow your surgeon/doctor’s recommendations not just for the first year or so, but as long as you want to keep your weight loss off.  Stay in touch with your surgeon and nutritional team for long-term success.  

  6. Address alcohol and drug abuse issues.  You are highly encouraged  to discuss this during your psychology evaluation so be honest with your healthcare practitioners.  They are there to help support you for long-term success.  If you are not 100% honest with yourself and/or your team, it can hurt you in the long run.  

  7. Patients who continue to self-monitor their diet with the help of a professional dietitian have better long-term results.  According to the Bariatric Surgery Source: “The key is to never stop seeing your dietitian.  The importance of this cannot be understated and needs to repeated:  the key is to never stop seeing them.” If you have never seen a dietitian before and after surgery, you must connect with one to be successful with your weight loss surgery and relationship with food.  Surgery doesn’t change your food demons.

But there is hope.  Meet one powerhouse of a lady… 




I remember the first time I met Gail at Wellstar for her first bariatric nutrition consultation appointment.  She said she lost hope because of her weight gain and wanted to use surgery as a tool to get the weight loss ball rolling.  I think she said something like, “I’m more than capable of doing the necessary work, but I just need help with shaking off the first bit of weight.  After that I’ll take care of the rest.”  Anyone who knows Gail now recognizes that’s quite the understatement.

Gail had sleeve gastrectomy surgery and I was her registered dietitian nutritionist (aka “nut”).  We had regular post-op appointments and kept in touch after surgery.  I can say that to date, she has far surpassed the entire staff’s expectations, including our surgeon Dr Jean-Pierre who called her the ‘poster child for surgery‘.  He even invited her come speak at the support group meeting to inspire others.  I nicknamed her my “rockstar” and am so inspired and proud of all her hard work and discipline.  Most WLS clients who have the sleeve surgery hit 75% of their goal by one year; Gail was at 91% and was just 1.5 pounds of fat away from her goal. She took everything I taught her and ran with it (pardon the pun, she ran several 5-K’s then races and marathons!).  I remember wondering how different every patient’s life would be if they had an ounce of her drive and motivation.  

During one of our follow up appointments, I told her how inspiring she was and that she would pay it forward.  She set running goals for herself and far exceeded our clinic expectations for a sleeve surgery.  She started Bariatric Weight Loss Group on Facebook and has over 12K members, started a non-profit, and gives gives gives back 10-fold.  She’s an inspiration to those of us who are lucky enough to be in her circle and I am blessed to call her a friend and partner in changing the lives of bariatric patients.


  • Highest Weight:  351 lb
  • Surgery Date Weight:  324 lbs
  • Current Weight; 1 Year Post Op:  158 lbs
  • Total Loss: 193 lbs after 1 yr

  • Highest BMI (body mass index):  62

  • Current BMI: 27


My biggest issue was remembering to sit down and think about what I’m eating and not default to eating on the fly. Previous to the 30-Day Mindful Eating Challenge, my “food time” was also car time because car time was the only time I had for anything. That was before I realized that I have to create the time for me! This was a new way of reframing my thoughts, and we no longer eat in the van! Meals are back at the table, less stressful, and all about family time.

One big change was giving up donuts this entire challenge. which has saved a significant amount of money, but also my body has felt so great these 30 days because of all the healthy changes! Now I can sit and eat frozen yogurts with the kids and actually enjoy it and the time I spend with them instead of being on a stressful, train-like schedule.

This 30-Day Mindful Eating Challenge helped put my body back on a clock, so I’m on a regular schedule. It’s not only the reset of the mind, but also the reset of the body schedule. And now my body is set for a meal time schedule too, like it was after surgery. I even have time to work out and time to paint (which I enjoy, it’s a stress reliever). If I deviate from my meal schedule, I’m off the rest of the day. My mental capacity is just as important as everything else.

Everyone can agree that it’s very difficult to all of a sudden change the way you eat pre-surgery. In a perfect world, if you can do this challenge BEFORE surgery, then you become aware of your personal pitfalls because you know “this is a trigger for me” or “when I get stressed this is what I reach for.” You can start to implement the skills from the challenge to work around your personal struggles and establish healthier habits that work for you, not your doctor or dietitian or other health care practitioner; just you. It can be very personal and individual and a game-changer. Even though I had surgery June 23, 2015, over two years ago, some of my new, healthier habits were left behind. It’s called life.

The reality is you don’t break your entire life’s habits in 2 years. I’ve spent so much time eating, and that’s how I become 300+ pounds. For me food was fun and entertaining. This 30-Day Mindful Eating Challenge put me back on the even keel and helped me connect the dots of “am I truly hungry or is this emotionally-related?” Eating my emotions is so natural to do, because that’s what I’ve done for so long before surgery. But once I did this challenge, I would physically stop, incorporate the daily challenge, and the light bulb moment is “Oh, I get it now!” Because the habits are deeply ingrained, we all need to be constantly re-learning the basics and what you are taught in preparation for surgery (if you did the work).

The daily challenges are great reminders to help you recognize that you are off track and identify, “why did I get off track?” It also helps with your level of awareness and understanding that more than likely, you are dealing with symptoms of a problem. The big problem is my association with food. If you can’t deal with the mindful part of this, you won’t succeed with or without surgery. Unfortunately, a lot of weight loss surgery patients are not or were not taught how to eat before, much less after surgery. The 30-Day Mindful Eating Challenge is a great way to reset your metabolic clock without the societal propaganda and takes you back to instinctual eating, which is the right way to eat.

I’ve worked one-on-one with Jennifer during my WLS journey, and what I really liked is that she never talked down to or shamed anyone. Ever. Not only did she do the challenge with us, but she also shared her struggles too, which helped the rest of us feel like there is always something to be working on. This concept of mindfulness is a life-long journey. Her ultimate mission is to empower and motivate you to establish a healthier relationship with your body and food using mindful eating skills so you can feel good in your skin…

I feel like I have a much healthier relationship with food and my emotions, because I am not running to the cookie to cope with the emotion. Now I’m dealing with the emotion instead of ignoring it and doing a line of Oreo’s. I recognize- in the moment -that there is something bigger at play. Instead of reaching for junk, I can tune into my body and interpret what it needs or wants instead of defaulting to my old habits. This awareness has allowed me to create and reach for healthier choices based on what I’m feeling. Then I eat and can move on with my day instead of feeling guilty for eating what I did. This is a huge deal for me.

During this challenge I was able to identify how my own personal mind and body operates with regards to food. Instead of eating because I was head hungry (which sometimes I will still do), I was able to teach my brain how to eat because, I was physically hungry, and my body needed fuel.

The bottom line is this: you have to be brave during this 30-Day Mindful Eating Challenge because it’s not pretty to look at your current habits. When you look at the intense emotions that drive you to food, it’s usually something very deep and very personal. The last thing you want to do is investigate it, but you really have to. The reality and irony is 90% of the time you make it worse off in your head than it really is! Stress causes hunger for me, and when I did the sh*t I clearly did not want to do, the hunger went away. This is another huge deal for me. I recommend this 30-Day Mindful Eating Challenge that Jennifer has created, especially pre-surgery, so your relationship with food is moving in the right direction.

— Gail Reeves





1.   Here is the beauty of mindful eating:  there is no fad diet or “clean eating” meal plan that you have to follow.  You get to eat whatever you want, as long as it is part of your doctor, surgeon or dietitian’s recommended health plan based on where you are in the pre- or post-surgery process.  And if you stray during the challenge and vomit, have dumping syndrome or any ill side effects, then that’s your journey.  No judgement from yourself or other participants and certainly not from me.  Each positive and negative experience or situation is just another level of awareness of what you do and why you do it.  Now I know what many people are thinking… well THAT sounds too good to be true.  I know, right?  I felt the same way and it took me some time to grasp the concept.

But hear me out.  Mindful eating isn’t judgmental, strict, or preachy.  I am not the food police and there is no “diet” for you to follow (unless recommended by your doctor, surgeon, or dietitian). You eat based on how you WANT to feel.  That’s it.

And once you tap into an increased level of awareness with how food makes you feel during this very thoughtful and well-designed challenge, you will start to recognize the foods and habits that you want to keep and those that you are ready to let go of.  There are no expectations from me, no pressure from anyone else.  This 30-Day Mindful Eating Challenge is whatever you make of it.  I guarantee no judgement, no pressure nothing but encouragement, education and support.

2.   You will be supported by a qualified and credentialed health-care professional and not someone who claims to be an expert (there is a lot of that on the internet!).  I have a 360 degree level of experience with food and nutrition as well as mindful eating.  I am a very supportive Bariatric Registered Dietitian who has worked with thousands of patients pre- and post-surgery.  Some patients I have worked with had difficult experiences with their doctor, nurse, or perhaps other bariatric dietitian, which  is very unfortunate.  However, I do not talk down to you, that is not the way I operate.  I am here to support you on your mindful eating journey, educate you about why mindful eating can set you free and is so important to every bariatric patient for long-term success, and  cheer you on throughout the entire process with a community of people who are going through the same process.  Each day the new challenge will be posted with inspiration information to help guide  you during your 30-Day Mindful Eating journey.

3. This 30-Day Mindful Eating Challenge is designed specifically for the bariatric patient both pre-and post-surgery to positively impact your life and your relationship with food and your body.  Many patients feel that if they have weight loss surgery, they won’t have to think about their food issues or eating habits anymore.  But research shows that long-term success after surgery requires patients to become very mindful about eating so that they may optimize their weight loss procedure and maintain healthy lifestyle habits.  Patients who are NOT mindful may suffer from uncomfortable and even serious consequences and are very likely to gain weight back after surgery.  For a small group of patients they can gain all the weight they lost after surgery and then some.  This can be a devastating blow after all the pre-op requirements and post-op expectations.  

Mindful eating is an ancient concept that is quickly emerging as a solid and universal approach to positively impact various eating-related behaviors; these include: binge eating, grazing, mindless eating, and overeating.  Mindfulness is a self-care discipline that can set you free from your disordered eating behaviors and allow you to have a healthier relationship with food while nourishing your body.  If you haven’t worked with this concept of mindful eating, you owe it to yourself to join our community of bariatric patients who desire a better life.  If you struggle with any of the following eating habits you will greatly benefit from this program:

✔  Eating while distracted

✔  Eating too fast

✔  Taking large bites

✔  Not chewing your food well

✔  Not eating enough protein or nutrient-dense nutritious foods

✔  Not feeling satisfied with smaller amounts of food

✔  Grazing or frequently eating large amounts of food

✔  Emotional or stress eating

✔  Feel like you have an unhealthy relationship with food

✔  Feeling deprived, guilty or singled-out in social situations

✔  Preoccupation with food

✔  Weight regain and weight cycling

✔  Knowingly eat the wrong foods despite dumping syndrome and other negative side effects 

I know in our crazy world, we have lost that mind-body-spirit-plate connection.  There is so much nutrition information, science-based and fad diets and everything in between (ps: where do you get your nutrition information from?   A bariatric doctor, surgeon, dietitian, bariatric support group, Facebook group, Instagram, Pinterest and other social media sources, family, friends, TV?  Make sure it is from a credible source versus some self-proclaimed, un-credentialed “expert”).  This Bariatric 30-Day Mindful Eating Challenge is specifically designed and geared to help weight loss surgery patients cultivate better awareness and eating skills pre-surgery as well as guide the post-surgery patients to re-establish a healthier relationship with not only food, but also their body.  

30-Day Mindful Eating Challenge Includes:

✔  Exclusive access to private Facebook support group and a community of fellow bariatric patients

✔  10 Common Questions on Mindful Eating Booklet

✔  Pillars of Success – 7 Mindful Eating Tips and Tricks Guide

✔  Mindful Eating Workbook for Weekly Video Exercises

✔  10-Step Mindful Eating Meditation

✔  Recipe booklet of Mindful Eating daily challenge recipes

✔  Special Bonus:  Surprise give-away gifts at end of challenge!

✔  First to know about future Mindful Eating Challenges and discounts for past participants

Are you ready to join the 30-Day Mindful Eating Challenge for Bariatric Patients?  






✔ Full access to private 30-Day Mindful Eating Challenge Facebook community

Who this option is for:  any pre- and post-surgery bariatric weight loss surgery patients who desires a healthier relationship with food and wants to feel good in their body and enhance pre and post-op weight loss!  

Pre-surgery candidates:  you have a good working relationship with your bariatric dietitian and psychologist, feel supported, and want to take your level of awareness with food and nutrition to the next level before surgery to enhance your weight loss, eating skills, relationship with food, and prevent post surgery weight gain.  

Post-surgery candidates: ideally you have worked with a bariatric dietitian both pre- and post-surgery and can schedule appointments as needed for additional support.  You know what you should do, but you don’t necessarily follow through.  You know you could use a good kick in the butt to get back on track and might want to shake off a couple of regain pounds in the process.  Weight loss is the bonus, not your #1 goal.  You are ready to commit, will work the daily challenge and follow directions, and make the most out of this 30-day challenge.



✔ Full access to private 30-Day Mindful Eating Challenge Facebook community

✔  Four 20-minute video appointments with Jennifer using HIPPA-safe online nutrition platform (must have video access on your computer or phone).   

Superbills for our video appointments to submit to insurance companies for reimbursement*

Who this option is for:  the bariatric patient who either didn’t have a bariatric dietitian or they only saw their dietitian one time and would benefit from or require additional support during the 30-Day Challenge.  During our live video chats we will review your food choices, eating habits, nutrition strengths and weaknesses as well as mindful eating exercises and how to maximize your time and effort during the challenge so you get the most out of your 30-day experience.


*Please contact your provider to discuss your coverage for medical nutrition therapy by a registered dietitian since I cannot guarantee that your particular plan will cover our video appointment time together.  However, because I am a registered dietitian you may receive reimbursement based on your insurance, coverage and deductible.

THE WHOLE ENCHILADA (bariatric-sized)


✔ Full access to private 30-Day Mindful Eating Challenge Facebook community

✔  Four 1-hour video appointments with Jennifer using HIPPA-safe online nutrition platform (must have video access on your computer or phone).  

Superbills to submit to insurance companies for reimbursement*

Surprise gift basket of fun bariatric items (mailed out during or at end of challenge)

Who this option is for:  the bariatric patient who either saw their dietitian one time or didn’t work directly with a bariatric dietitian before surgery as well as anyone who struggles with chronic overeating, food addiction, a past or active eating disorder or any unresolved challenges with food and relationship with their body.  This is a weekly supportive package option for those who struggle with making healthy habits stick.      

During our live video chats we will have time to do a deep dive and review your food choices, explore current eating habits, discuss your nutrition strengths and weaknesses as well as chat about your personal mindful eating exercises and how to maximize your time and effort during the challenge so you get the most out of your 30-day experience.  I am here as your personal dietitian and nutrition expert to help you connect the dots and create the relationship with food and your body that you deserve.   


*Please contact your provider to discuss your coverage for medical nutrition therapy  by a registered dietitian since I cannot guarantee that your particular plan will cover our video appointment time together.  However, because I am a registered dietitian you may receive reimbursement based on your insurance, coverage and deductible.