A new, healthier diet after bariatric surgery is critical to achieving the very best weight loss results. Many patients worry that the dietary changes expected of them are extreme. While they will be very different from the pre-surgical diet, they represent balanced, normal and healthy portions. Think of past generations, who didn’t have access to many of the processed foods that we do today and didn’t suffer from the same epidemic levels of obesity.
It is important to know that the food groups that are often maligned, such as fats and carbohydrates, are not necessarily bad for you. Rather, they should be consumed in moderation. For example, there are different forms of carbohydrates. Simple carbs such as refined sugars are exactly what you are looking to avoid – stay away from added sugars and those found in soda. However, the natural sugar found in many of the whole foods we eat is perfectly fine – in moderation. Ultimately, you will never be able to eliminate all the sugar from your diet. The same goes for fats. Saturated fats should be replaced by much healthier unsaturated fats found in nuts, avocados and certain oils such as olive or canola. The unsaturated fats maintain our nutritional equilibrium, while avoiding much of the bad cholesterol and risk of arterial clogging. Patients will also notice that their protein intake will be significantly increased. This is because the density of protein-rich foods allows for longer satiety and minimized sugar spikes. Proteins such as lean meats, fish, and beans are all great choices when consumed in moderation.
We may do well with what we eat, but the preparation makes a big difference too. It’s easy to add lots of salt or butter, turning a lean protein into an unhealthy indulgence. That’s why in your post-surgical packet, as well as during support group, you will learn more about the best way to prepare common foods as well as what to avoid when shopping at the grocery store.
Don’t forget that how we eat matters. Before understanding their metabolism, patients will tend to rely on their feeling of fullness to know when to stop eating. By that point, however, they may have already over-eaten. That’s why it is so important to follow post-bariatric surgery guidelines very closely – eating more frequent, smaller meals throughout the day and avoiding drinking during meals. Eat slowly and chew thoroughly.
And do remember that moderation in your diet and lifestyle works both ways. So while we all don’t want to eat too much, we also don’t want to eat too little. And it is very easy, after bariatric surgery, to try to lose even more weight by eating less. Nutritional deficiencies can be avoided easily, but not if we aren’t allowing our bodies to consume the nutrients necessary to stay healthy. If at any point after surgery, you are having trouble with your bariatric diet, we encourage you to speak to our office so we can help you get back on track.