Reminder of Phase 1: Remember that during phase 1, the balloon did all the work for you – it limited your eating. You experienced symptoms resulting from your stomach’s struggle with the balloon. You probably experienced some or all of the following to some degree – weakness/dehydration, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain/spams, and heartburn/acid reflux. The balloon, simply stated, stopped you from eating. You felt discomfort, but it eased up after a number of days.
Phase 2: Honestly, phase 2 is the most important part of you balloon journey. It begins, approximately, at the end of the first week (this may vary from patient to patient). It is here that your stomach settles down and starts getting used to the presence of the balloon. You are now able to start eating – the balloon no longer prevents you from eating. You will be able to eat much more than you did in Phase 1, but in Phase 2, the balloon will tell you when you did not eat properly. How does the balloon tell you this? It alerts you via signals. The following are signals that your stomach may send you in Phase 2:
- Minor cramps
- Bad breath
- or some other mild signal
These signals are mild and infrequent, at first. You may be tempted to ignore them – after all, they are not as strong as the symptoms (nausea/vomiting/pain) that you had during the first week! So the first important step is to accept them and understand them. Understand that a signal does not occur until your stomach starts to fill up. The stomach is not full enough to cause nausea/vomiting/pain, but it is enough to cause burps/bloating/fullness etc. So, pay attention to them. And by paying attention to these signals, you begin an important process – taking responsibility for your food intake.
The next important step is to take action – make the change and adjust your food intake. That may require eating less food or changing the type of food or both. Your dietician will help you with that – learning to make the change and understanding how to eat properly. If, on the other hand, you do not pay attention to these signals, and instead, continue the same food intake, then your signals will progress and eventually turn into symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, pain and acid reflux. Think of these signals as an early warning system – take advantage of them and use them. This is how you develop tools that will help you for the rest of your life. If you can respond to minor signals and act on them, that is a major step in the direction of behavior modification. Anyone can easily stop eating if they have nausea and vomiting – because you have no choice. But when a minor signal is enough to motivate you to change your eating habits – that is a major accomplishment. That’s how a balloon can help you turn your life around and live a healthier lifestyle. And when you receive a signal, it’s your opportunity to make the correction – eat less or change the content of your food and make the necessary changes in your eating habits.