About the SA Blog Network

Illusion Chasers

Illusion Chasers

Illusions, Delusions, and Everyday Deceptions
Illusion Chasers HomeAboutContact

Fat Tuesday: My Eyes Are Bigger Than My Stomach–Literally

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

Email   PrintPrint

By Andriy.babets (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (

Ed. Note: Every Fat Tuesday we discuss the neuroscience of hunger, satiety, and weight control.

In the last week I’ve discovered that my eyes are bigger than my stomach. In the past, I’ve used the phrase as a euphemism for, “I just tried to cram three servings down my gullet, and gee, now I regret it!”, but now   it’s quite literally true. Three weeks ago I received bariatric surgery, a roux-en-y gastric bypass, to be exact, and so my stomach is approximately equivalent in volume to my two eyes. You can’t see the transformation from the outside, but the change has been profound. I’m not merely restricted in how much I can eat, but I feel totally different about what I want to eat. I’m no longer drawn to many of the foods I used to love. In fact, just thinking about some of them makes me nauseous. Kinda like Alex Delarge’s forced classical conditioning in “A Clockwork Orange” but with junk food instead of ultra-violence, and without the actual conditioning.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still not used to the new hardware, and I have made the mistake of eating bites that were too big, or eating too much, several times now. So I guess my eyes are bigger than my stomach in every sense of the phrase. But as a neurobiologist I find it fascinating how much my behavior and attitude have changed in response to a few staples applied strategically to my gut.

Food for thought, to be sure, and we’ll continue to discuss it as my recovery progresses.


Stephen L. Macknik About the Author: Susana Martinez-Conde and Stephen L. Macknik are laboratory directors at SUNY Downstate Medical Center. Follow on Twitter @illusionchasers.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

Rights & Permissions

Add Comment

Add a Comment
You must sign in or register as a member to submit a comment.

More from Scientific American

Email this Article