7 Tips to Spring Clean Your Diet

Eating a healthy diet after bariatric surgery is essential for long-term weight loss success. However, with cold winter weather and COVID-19 forcing everyone indoors, you may have slipped into old, unhealthy eating routines. If your weight loss has plateaued or you gained weight this winter, your food choices may be the culprit.

With winter coming to an end, you may be gearing up for spring cleaning. Now is a great time to clean up your eating habits as well. The following tips can help you get back on track with your bariatric diet:

  1. Clean out your fridge and cabinets. It’s easy to overindulge or make poor food choices when you store them in your fridge or pantry. Removing junk foods and replacing them with healthy options can help you eliminate the temptation. If you don’t like the idea of throwing away food, consider giving it away to friends and family.
  2. Keep up with your hydration. Dehydration is the leading cause of rehospitalization after bariatric surgery. During cold weather months, you may have opted for hot chocolate, coffee, or tea to keep you warm rather than reaching for your water. Unfortunately, caffeinated beverages are diuretics, and sugary drinks are empty calories. Water is hydrating, zero calories, and can help you feel full for longer.
  3. Cook at home. Between the pandemic and gloomy winter weather, you may have had limited energy for cooking. While ordering takeout or heating a microwave meal may sound appealing, they often come with excessive calories, fat, and sodium. Cooking healthy meals at home allows you to know the exact nutritional information of what you’re eating.
  4. Opt for colorful foods. Colorful foods make your meals more visually interesting, and they are usually healthy choices. Fruits and vegetables can brighten up your plate, as well as provide essential vitamins, fiber, and other nutrients. For example, if you’re tired of ho-hum scrambled eggs for breakfast, you can incorporate bell peppers and spinach to add flavor and aesthetic appeal.
  5. Avoid added sugars. It’s easy to identify sugar-heavy drinks and snacks, but many pre-packaged products include added sugars as well. While a food may have a low amount of naturally occurring sugar, the manufacturer may have added a significant amount of sugar during the packaging process. Reading labels can help you understand exactly how much sugar you’re eating. You can eliminate the confusion altogether by reaching for raw fruits when you’re craving something sweet.
  6. Eat more raw foods. It may sound odd, but scientific studies have shown that cooked foods often contain more calories than their raw counterparts. When you cook foods, you’re aiding in the process of breaking them down. Your body has to do less work to obtain the nutrients, so you burn fewer calories during digestion.
  7. Stop grazing. You may think that a bite of a cookie, one cheesy French fry, or a sip of a sugary milkshake aren’t a big deal. However, these snacking habits add up over time without you noticing it. Not only that, but grazing is usually exclusive to unhealthy foods as well, as you may think a small taste won’t hurt. Practicing mindful eating helps you recognize when you’re truly hungry and when you’re full so that you don’t overeat.

The above tips can help you overhaul your diet for a healthier spring season. Leaving poor eating habits behind can reignite your weight loss efforts and help you achieve your goals. If you’re struggling to lose stubborn weight despite cleaning up your diet, bariatric surgery may be right for you. Contact us to learn more.


3 Questions You May Have After Bariatric Surgery

You’re likely to have many questions for your doctor before surgery. Even so, you’ll likely develop new questions as you progress through your recovery. Some of the most common questions revolve around food, exercise, and recovery time. While your questions may seem like they have simple answers, that isn’t always the case. The following are some common questions that arise after bariatric surgery.

When Can I Drink Coffee Again?

The quick answer is at least 30 days, but it’s more complicated than that in practice. Caffeine is problematic for post-op bariatric patients as it can reduce nutrient absorption. Bariatric patients consume fewer nutrients through food as is, so it’s best to avoid anything that reduces this further. Caffeine is also dehydrating. Given that insufficient hydration is the most common reason for rehospitalization after surgery, it’s best to avoid caffeine during the first month post-op.

After 30 days, you will still need to be cautious when it comes to coffee. Most commercial coffee options are a poor choice for bariatric patients. They’re often packed with sugar, fat, and excessive calories. Some smart swaps for a healthier coffee include:

  • Using low-fat or non-fat creamer
  • Using skim milk or almond milk
  • Ordering a smaller size
  • Skipping the whipped topping and syrups

When Can I Go to the Gym?

Your doctor will likely tell you to exercise in the weeks leading up to your surgery. If you’re used to hitting the gym or working out at home, you’ll likely feel the itch to jump back into it after surgery. Of course, overdoing it is a significant concern while your incisions and body are still healing.

You should limit your exercise to walking the first month after bariatric surgery. The eventual goal should be 30 minutes of walking without stopping, but you can start in increments and build up your stamina.

Most doctors will green light going to the gym two to three months after surgery. However, stick with cardio machines at this stage, as lifting weights may cause injuries. The elliptical, stationary bike, and water aerobics (assuming your incisions are healed) are good options as they are low impact. Using a variety of machines can help prevent boredom as well.

You can begin light resistance training around four to six months after surgery. You will want to start slow and use low weights to build up your strength. You will also want to pay attention to the changes happening to your body, as weight loss can affect your balance and coordination.

You’ll be able to perform all regular weight training and cardio by 6-12 months post-op. Focus on increasing frequency before increasing intensity. As your strength and stamina improve, you’ll be able to push your body a little harder. After a year, you can increase the intensity for better strength gains. You’ll also be able to incorporate core exercises so long as your surgeon approves them.

What Can I Have for Snacks?

Diet is a huge component to weight loss success after bariatric surgery. As many bariatric recipes cater to meals, it can be challenging to find easy snack options. Some healthy snack ideas include:

  • Hummus with carrot sticks
  • Peanut butter with celery sticks
  • Low-calorie protein chips
  • Low fat cottage cheese or Greek yogurt with fruit
  • Deli meat roll-ups (you can add ingredients to the rolls for more flavor, such as thinly sliced apples or a bit of cheese)
  • Popcorn (with some caveats)

Popcorn is a tricky snack as it can be a low-calorie option, but most people don’t eat it that way. Butter, powdered cheese, and other toppings can quickly transform popcorn into a poor snack choice. Another thing to keep in mind is that popcorn expands in the stomach, which can lead to dumping syndrome. To avoid this, opt for a single serving, pre-packaged bag of popcorn without high-fat toppings.

Some snacks to avoid include:

  • Chips
  • Baked goods (i.e., donuts, muffins, cookies, etc.)
  • Sugary breakfast cereals
  • Poptarts and other sugary pastries
  • Spicy foods
  • Fried foods

A good rule of thumb when making diet and exercise choices is to ask yourself if it will help or hinder your long-term success. Bariatric surgery isn’t an overnight solution for weight loss, and it requires you to commit to a healthy lifestyle. For more information about the health benefits of bariatric surgery, contact us.


6 Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight After Bariatric Surgery

The primary goal of bariatric surgery is significant weight loss to improve your health. However, a persistent myth that you’ll lose a substantial amount of weight immediately after surgery gives bariatric patients unrealistic expectations. While it’s true that bariatric surgery expedites weight loss, it still happens at a gradual and safe rate. Most patients lose 1-2 pounds per week. However, if you’re not losing weight at all, one of the following issues could be the culprit:

  1. You just had the surgery. Many patients begin losing weight immediately after surgery. However, some may not experience any weight loss for several weeks. You may retain water, and you will likely find it challenging to move around during the first couple of weeks following surgery. These issues resolve with time, and then weight loss begins in earnest.
  2. You’re eating too much. Your doctor will discuss your new dietary regimen for weight loss success. If you’re not tracking your calories or deviate from your diet frequently, you’re likely eating too many calories. Downloading a food diary app and following portion sizes can help you stick to your calorie goal.
  3. You’re indulging too often. While bariatric surgery doesn’t mean a lifetime of salads, you will have to curb unhealthy eating habits. Sugary foods are empty calories as they lack adequate nutrition. They also trigger cravings for more sugar, which will show up on the scale if you eat sweets too often.
  4. You’re not minding your beverages. Hydration is a critical component to weight loss success after bariatric surgery. Your primary source of hydration should be water rather than sugary sports drinks. Soda is also a poor choice as it doesn’t contribute to hydration, it’s high in sugar, and the carbonation may upset your stomach. If plain water bores you, you can infuse it with citrus or other fruit flavors.
  5. You’re not taking your vitamins. Consuming adequate nutrients after bariatric surgery is challenging, which is why your surgeon will recommend a multivitamin and supplements. If you forget to take your vitamins, your body may take longer to heal. You may also feel tired and weak. Without proper nutrition, you will struggle to lose weight.
  6. You’re not working out. You may have struggled to workout before bariatric surgery due to joint pain. However, you will find it’s much easier to be active as you begin to lose weight. Regular exercise is essential to long-term weight loss success. You will lose some weight initially due to dietary changes, but you will still need to exercise to continue and maintain your weight loss. You should start slow and aim to increase your exercise duration to 30 minutes a day, five days a week. For the best weight loss results, your eventual goal should be 60 minutes a day, five days a week.

Calorie intake and exercise are the primary factors that will influence your weight loss after bariatric surgery. However, several other things can affect the number on the scale as well. If you’re not losing weight after bariatric surgery, your dietary habits or lifestyle may be a contributing factor. To learn more about weight loss surgery, contact us.


5 Tips to Prevent Weight Gain After Bariatric Surgery

One of the biggest fears about bariatric surgery is that you may regain some of the weight you lose. While most patients experience dramatic weight loss after bariatric surgery, regaining the weight is a valid concern. Achieving and maintaining optimal weight loss depends on how well you adhere to your bariatric diet. Committing to healthy lifestyle changes is another important factor to sustain weight loss.

The following strategies can help you avoid gaining weight after bariatric surgery:

  1. Focus on the protein. Begin every meal with your protein. Foods high in protein help you feel full for longer. Adequate protein intake is also critical post-surgery to maintain muscle mass. You should aim for around 60g of protein per day, evenly divided between meals.
  2. Make smart food choices. You will have a limited number of calories with your new diet after bariatric surgery. You should make sure that every bite is as nutritious as possible. Some of the best options include lean meats, low-fat dairy, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
  3. Make time for meals. You won’t be able to eat as much in one sitting as you used to after bariatric surgery. To ensure you receive adequate nutrients, you should make time for three to four meals throughout the day. You should practice mindful eating as well, as this will help you avoid overeating.
  4. Look beyond the calories. While reduced calorie intake is a significant part of a bariatric diet, you will also want to scan the rest of the nutrition label. Avoid foods that are high in fat and sugar, as they can contribute to dumping syndrome. Given enough time, these foods can also contribute to post-op weight gain as they offer little nutritional value.
  5. Exercise. Bariatric surgery helps expedite weight loss, but it’s by no means an easy fix. You will still need to commit to lifestyle changes, including being more active. For many bariatric patients, the excess weight made exercise difficult, painful, or impossible. As you begin to lose weight, you will have more workout options. Start with low-impact exercises, such as walking or using the elliptical, and build up your stamina over time. Start with an interval of time that challenges you without overtaxing you. Increase the duration of your workouts steadily until you can perform 150 minutes of exercise per week. For example, 30 minutes of exercise five days per week will achieve this goal.

Foods to Avoid After Bariatric Surgery

The quality of the food you eat can help with long term weight loss success. Food with limited nutritional value can derail weight loss or contribute to weight gain. To prevent this issue, you should avoid the following foods:

  • Candy
  • Ice cream
  • Fried foods
  • Cakes and other sugary baked goods
  • Milkshakes and other high-calorie beverages
  • Soda (the carbonation can cause problems for bariatric patients as well)

A bariatric diet doesn’t need to be boring, and it doesn’t mean a lifetime of only eating salads. You can enjoy flavorful meals by making smart substitutions to reduce fat, sugar, and calories (e.g., swapping sugar for zero-calorie sugar substitutes or swapping mayo for Greek yogurt). You can also enjoy a sweet treat from time to time so long as it’s not a habit and doesn’t upset your stomach.

Losing weight after bariatric surgery and keeping it off requires a commitment to overhauling your diet and exercise habits. Following your doctor’s post-op instructions can help you achieve long term weight loss success. Contact Dr. Waldrep to learn more about bariatric surgery for weight loss.


7 Tips to Prevent Weight Gain While Homeschooling

COVID-19 is forcing many parents into the role of teacher or assistant to the teacher. With many kids in homeschool and virtual school, parents are more sedentary than ever. Academia is an inherently stationary activity. While younger children can learn while being active, older students have challenging work that requires more sitting time. Without a teacher around, parents have to make themselves available to explain instructions, help with technology, and supervise to ensure their children do their work.

Weight gain while homeschooling isn’t inevitable, though. You can take several steps to take back control over your health and fitness despite an increase in sedentary time.

  1. Take several short walks. Taking 10 minutes out of your day to walk around your neighborhood can help you get moving. Find strategic times like during breaks between your children’s classes, before lunch, and so on. If your children are too young to leave unsupervised, do a 10-minute cardio circuit in your living room instead.
  2. Incorporate active time into school hours. While you have to be available to help your children, you don’t have to sit by their side waiting. Start an at-home workout during reading time, test time, or other periods that typically require more of your child and less of you. You can also always pause your workout to help and then jump back into it right after.
  3. Keep track of your calories. You need to track all your food as well as the calories you burn. It’s easy to underestimate how much you’ve eaten, especially if you graze often. People also frequently overestimate how many calories they burn during their workouts. These miscalculations add up even faster when factoring in increased inactivity.
  4. Find workouts that you love. If you hate the exercises and workouts you’re doing at home, you’re not likely to stick with them. Experiment with new workouts by browsing Pinterest or free workout channels on YouTube.
  5. Establish an accountability partner. Having someone to remind you why you’re doing this and cheerlead your progress is a great motivator. Decide what kind of accountability inspires you the most and find someone to work alongside you to achieve your health and fitness goals.
  6. Reinvent your favorite recipes. If your go-to comfort food after a long day of homeschooling is an unhealthy snack or sumptuous meal, find a healthier way to enjoy it. For example, swapping out mayo for Greek yogurt in recipes reduces calories and fat while boosting protein.
  7. Sleep right. Homeschooling or virtual schooling often means the typical school schedule goes out the window. Fewer constraints on your morning schedule may tempt you to stay up late or sleep in well past your usual alarm. However, oscillating sleep patterns wreak havoc on digestion and blood sugar levels. It can also increase your appetite.

Pandemic weight gain is a very real thing, as is homeschooling weight gain. Taking steps like the above can help you maintain good dietary and exercise habits. If you’re struggling to lose weight despite your best efforts, we may be able to help. Contact us to learn more about bariatric surgery for weight loss.

Is Bariatric Surgery Worth It?

If you struggle with obesity or obesity-related health complications, you may be wondering if bariatric surgery is worth the time and money involved. Researching the subject on the internet can turn up glowing reviews of weight loss surgery, while other results may create confusion, fear, and more questions.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bariatric Surgery

Knowing the facts about bariatric surgery can help address any questions or concerns you may have. The following are some of the most common questions that may arise as you research bariatric procedures:

  1. Am I eligible for weight loss surgery? You may worry that preexisting health issues may preclude you from weight loss surgery, but this is not the case. Most individuals seeking a bariatric procedure suffer from significant health issues due to obesity, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea, etc. To qualify for weight loss surgery, you must have a BMI over 40 or a BMI of 35+ and a health condition related to obesity. However, individuals with a BMI over 30 are eligible for a gastric plication procedure like The Wrap.
  2. What are the prerequisites for surgery? After meeting the minimum requirements for weight loss surgery, your surgeon will order several tests, including blood work, an EKG, a chest x-ray, and other tests specific to your health. Depending on the circumstances, you may have to undergo a sleep study for sleep apnea or a psychological evaluation. Your surgeon may recommend that you meet with a nutritionist as well to help you establish healthy eating habits prior to surgery.
  3. What are my options for weight loss surgery? The most common weight loss procedures include gastric bypass surgery, laparoscopic banding, sleeve gastrectomy, and gastric plication. Gastric bypass surgery separates the stomach into two sections, leaving a small portion for food consumption. Laparoscopic banding involves placing a band around the stomach to reduce how much food you can consume. Sleeve gastrectomy (gastric sleeve) removes a significant portion of the stomach to create a smaller, sleeve-shaped stomach. Gastric plication involves creating large folds in the existing stomach to reduce its size.
  4. Which weight loss surgery is best for me? You and your surgeon will make this decision during your consultation. All bariatric procedures are laparoscopic surgeries, meaning they use tiny incisions. This reduces recovery time as well as the risk of infection.
  5. How successful is weight loss surgery? Most patients (75-80%) experience long-term weight loss success following bariatric surgery. Long-term studies show that patients can lose 50-60% of their excess weight and keep it off for over a decade. Depending on the procedure, patients can lose 30-50% of their excess weight within six months.
  6. What is recovery like after weight loss surgery? Depending on the procedure, you can expect to stay 2-4 days in the hospital. After that, it typically takes 1-2 weeks to resume driving and to return to work. If your job is physically demanding, it may take up to six weeks before you can return. You’ll also have several post-op appointments in the first year after surgery and then one or two appointments a year to monitor your progress, health, and address any concerns.
  7. How much weight will I lose? It’s common to lose 50-100 pounds or more in the first year after bariatric surgery. While it’s possible to lose 2-3 pounds per week, one pound a week is more typical. However, how much you lose and keep off depends on your commitment to making a lifestyle change. You will need to adhere to a special bariatric diet and exercise regularly.
  8. Can I afford bariatric surgery? The price tag associated with weight loss procedures can seem daunting. However, the total cost is often less than purchasing a new car. Additionally, many insurance companies provide coverage for bariatric surgery, so it may cost you a great deal less than you expect. You can reach out to your insurance provider to learn more about your specific policy.

Most patients experience weight loss success after bariatric surgery. Losing weight often resolves obesity-related illnesses as well, which makes the procedure well worth the investment. If you’re struggling to lose weight or are experiencing health issues due to your weight, bariatric surgery may be for you. Contact us to learn more about bariatric surgery for weight loss.

6 Tips to Manage Special Occasions After Bariatric Surgery

If you’re considering a bariatric procedure, you may be wondering about how your day-to-day life will change after surgery. You’ll need to make diet changes, learn new bariatric-friendly meals, make sure you stay hydrated, and figure out when to fit exercise into your agenda. The holiday season and special occasions require even more planning, as they deviate from a typical day and can throw off your schedule.

Holidays and events usually revolve around food, which further complicates the issue. Many people use the holidays as an excuse to overeat, but these indulgences happen more often than many realize. Birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, and so on occur with regularity and can slow your weight loss or derail your diet. However, this doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to missing out on festivities. By implementing various strategies, you can enjoy holidays and special occasions while keeping up with your weight loss goals.

The following can help you stick to your bariatric diet while enjoying holidays and celebratory events:

  1. Don’t save your calories. The allure of a large and savory dinner may tempt you to forego breakfast and skimp out on lunch to save calories. However, this can backfire in several ways. If you show up hungry, you’re more likely to eat more than if you’d eaten your regular meals. Your new anatomy has pretty stringent food limitations as well. Consuming more than your new stomach allows can lead to dumping syndrome, vomiting, or stretching out your stomach over time.
  2. Remember the basics. The rules for your new diet don’t change around the holidays or special events. Remember to stick with appropriate portion sizes, start with your protein first, and practice mindful eating. Adhering to the basics can help you track your food intake and notice when you’re full.
  3. Don’t eat while socializing. Mindful eating is difficult if you’re catching up with a family member or chatting with a friend. You’re much more likely to overindulge when you’re not paying attention to how much you’re eating. When you are socializing, keep a glass of water in your hand to help with hydration.
  4. Read the menu in advance. It’s not always possible to know what food options will be available, but it can be a helpful tool if it’s available. You can look for options that suit your new bariatric diet and remove the guesswork of trying to figure it out on the fly. You can also bring your own meals or a dish to share to guarantee that there is an acceptable food option for you.
  5. Stay active. Holidays and celebrations often go hand-in-hand with savory meals and decadent desserts. If your friends and family overindulge, they’re more likely to be interested in doing physical activities with you. Ask if anyone wants to take a walk with you or organize a family group activity to elevate your heart rate. Skipping one workout can lead to scrapping another and eventually cause you to fall out of the habit.
  6. Don’t judge yourself too harshly. No one is perfect. Temptation may get the better of you, or you might allow yourself too many days of indulgence. You haven’t ruined your diet by skipping a workout or eating too many desserts. Remember, it’s just a meal!

Having a plan can help you stick to your bariatric diet while enjoying holidays and special events. The above tips can help you stay committed to achieving your weight loss goals. Contact us to learn more about weight loss surgery.

High Protein Bariatric Meal Ideas for Vegetarians

Eating enough protein is critical after bariatric surgery, but it can be challenging for patients in the early weeks and months after their surgery. Many people struggle to consume meats after bariatric surgery due to their new anatomy and shift to a vegetarian diet by default. However, vegetarian meals can present balance issues when it comes to protein, carbs, and essential nutrients.

The Importance of Complete Proteins

Complete proteins contain all nine essential amino acids, most of which come from animals. Plant-based proteins are often incomplete because they lack certain amino acids. You can only obtain essential amino acids from food sources, which can present some challenges depending on the type of vegetarian diet.

Thankfully, ovo-lacto vegetarians (people that avoid animal meat but consume dairy and eggs) have several options, such as eggs, cheese, and Greek yogurt. For vegans, soy products like edamame and tofu are complete proteins. However, you should limit this to 3-4 meals per week. Vegetarians can also combine various protein-rich, plant-based foods to obtain all nine essential amino acids.

How Much Protein Do I Need?

The daily goal for protein after bariatric surgery is around 40-60g as you adjust to your new anatomy. Once you acclimate, this increases to 60-80g per day. What makes this so challenging is that the typical bariatric diet restricts calories to 900-1000 per day. If you’re eating three meals a day, each meal needs to contain around 20g of protein and 300 calories. If you’re eating four smaller meals, you should aim for 15g of protein and 225 calories.

Some vegetarian options for breakfast include:

  • Plain Greek yogurt with a zero-calorie sugar substitute (you can add nuts, seeds, or fruit to add texture and punch up the flavor)
  • Crustless veggie quiche or frittata
  • Veggie and cheese omelets or scramble
  • Cottage cheese with fruit
  • Protein oatmeal or protein bar
  • Protein pancakes

Lunch and dinner options:

  • Vegetarian chili
  • Tofurky sausage and beans
  • Quinoa stuffed pepper
  • Meatless zucchini lasagna
  • Veggie burger with a lettuce bun
  • Tofu spring rolls
  • Salads that feature beans, nuts, or eggs

Vegetarian, high-protein snack options:

  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Nuts (pecans, cashews, almonds, and walnuts)
  • PB2 (protein peanut butter powder) on half an apple, sliced
  • String cheese
  • Hummus

kale, a high protein vegetable

High-protein vegetables to incorporate:

  • Broccoli: 5g of protein per cup
  • Sweet potato: 5g of protein per cup
  • Spinach: 5g of protein per cup
  • Kale: 5g of protein per two cups
  • Brussel sprouts: 5.5g of protein per cup
  • Asparagus: 4g of protein per cup

Protein shakes and smoothies are a simple option for consuming adequate protein as well. If you’re in the early weeks of adjusting to your new diets, protein drinks can help fill in nutritional gaps. You should focus on eating the protein portion of your meal first as well. You may fill up faster than you anticipated, and protein is critical to maintaining good nutrition and muscle mass.

It’s also worth noting that your body can only process so many grams of protein at once—usually a maximum of 30g per meal. You’ll need to make sure you spread your protein intake across all your meals and snacks, as loading one or two meals with an excess of protein won’t work. A good rule of thumb is that each meal or snack should have a minimum of 10g of protein for every 100 calories. You should also limit carbs to 20g per meal.

Keeping track of your nutrition may seem daunting, but mobile apps can take on the brunt of the work. Many include scanners so you can upload your foods via their barcodes. They also break down nutrients so you can see if you’re meeting your protein goals. Investing in a food scale is worth the effort as well. You may be over or under portioning your food without realizing it.

If you’re considering bariatric surgery for weight loss, you probably have several questions about life after surgery, lifestyle changes, and how the procedure will affect your diet. We can help answer all these questions and more.

To learn more about bariatric surgery in Hollywood or Thousand Oaks, contact Dr. Waldrep 


5 Tips to Enjoy Thanksgiving After Bariatric Surgery

Thanksgiving is a holiday that’s become synonymous with overindulging on decadent food with family and friends. Given how well-established this tradition is in many households, bariatric patients aren’t likely to change their family’s viewpoint on the matter. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a family Thanksgiving after weight loss surgery. With the proper planning, you can eat and mingle over the holidays without feeling left out or breaking your diet.

Some of the biggest hurdles surrounding Thanksgiving for bariatric patients relate to the nature of their new diet. Your anatomy changes after weight loss surgery, meaning your stomach may not tolerate the same foods as it could before. You’ll also need significantly less food to feel full. Sugary, fatty, and carb-heavy foods can be difficult to digest or lead to dumping syndrome, which is the last thing you want on Thanksgiving Day. However, depriving yourself of delicious food isn’t the solution either.

Achieving Balance

You can use the following strategies to help you stick to your bariatric diet and enjoy a Thanksgiving meal:

  1. Offer to host Thanksgiving. This may sound like a tall order, particularly if you’ve never prepared a Thanksgiving meal before. However, it allows you to control the menu to a certain degree. You can find a plethora of bariatric-friendly Thanksgiving recipes online that use smart substitutions. You can include traditional Thanksgiving favorites that align with your new diet by using low-sodium, low-fat, or sugar-free ingredients. Resist the urge to forewarn your guests about the healthy nature of your dishes. This helps break the incorrect correlation many people hold between healthy and boring.
  2. Give away your leftovers. If you decide to host Thanksgiving Day, you will still have to deal with the leftover food. Your new stomach can only handle so much food at once, and your sides and entrees will likely spoil before you can eat them regardless. If you have takeout containers ready to go, you can load up guests with leftovers to take home with them. If you’re not hosting, bring any dishes you prepare in disposable aluminum pans rather than reusable baking dishes. This will prevent you from feeling obligated to bring the leftovers home with you.
  3. Give yourself three minutes. If your surgery was recent or you’re still learning which foods upset your new anatomy, this rule can save you from a stomachache. For new foods, take a single bite and chew it well. Use mindful eating tactics to notice the texture, flavors, and so on. Then wait three minutes. This may seem like a pain, but your new stomach will let you know within minutes if it can’t tolerate a specific food. If all goes well, proceed with caution, and stop if you start to notice any upset.
  4. Allow yourself three bites. The most important nutrient following bariatric surgery will always be protein. However, Thanksgiving meals often boast a cornucopia of starches. Denying yourself every savory side dish or sweet treat will leave you grumpy and unpleasant to be around. You can’t enjoy visiting with family and friends if all you can think about is that piece of pie you can’t eat. Assuming you’ve learned your new anatomy and what foods you can tolerate by the holidays, allow yourself three small bites after getting your protein first. If you’re not sure or don’t want to risk the temptation to overeat, you can bring a bariatric-friendly dessert as an alternative.
  5. Find good conversation. While food features heavily on Thanksgiving Day, congregating with loved ones is another critical element. Set down your fork when you’re done and catch up with a relative you haven’t seen in a while. You can also see if anyone wants to go on a post-dinner walk to be active on a typically sedentary day. If you’d rather avoid the temptation of dessert altogether, you can time the walk for when your host begins to break out the pie.

Having strategies in place like the above can help you navigate Thanksgiving Day after bariatric surgery. If you’re considering weight loss surgery or have questions about bariatric procedures, we can help. Contact us to learn if weight loss surgery is right for you.


How to Eat Out at Restaurants After Bariatric Surgery

For many bariatric patients, the thought of going out to eat after surgery is a bit frightening. Thoughts of  “I can’t eat anything on here” or “nothing on the menu is healthy” are common concerns.

There is good news. Life after bariatric surgery doesn’t mean eating a bland diet of home-cooked meals every day for the rest of your life. If your food isn’t flavorful or doesn’t allow you to socialize, you’re likely going to struggle to stick to your diet. However, you may not know how to order from restaurants while also following your doctor’s instructions. The list below will provide recommendations on making bariatric-friendly food substitutions as well as what to avoid while ordering out for meals.

restaurant with empty booths and tables

  1. Choose restaurants with a lot of options. After bariatric surgery, you should avoid certain foods and beverages as they aren’t well-tolerated or may cause unwanted reactions. You should skip out on carbonated drinks like sodas or sugary drinks like sweet tea. Caffeine and spicy food may cause issues as well, but that doesn’t mean you can’t order from restaurants along with your family and friends. While fast food places may not have the options you need, plenty of other restaurants have bariatric-friendly food choices like grilled meats, fish, vegetarian or vegetable-based dishes, and so on.
  2. Browse the menu ahead of time. Scanning the menu before you go to order can help you avoid being stuck with limited choices. If your only option is a bland house salad, you may be tempted to order something that doesn’t work well with your new diet and anatomy. Trying to make smart food choices on the spot can be difficult as well. This will become easier with time as you learn your new diet options. Until then, many restaurants list their menus online so you can see your options in advance. Several also highlight a lighter fare menu that includes many items that align with a bariatric diet. If you know what you’re going to order, you won’t feel under pressure to decide when everyone else is ready to order.
  3. Focus on a protein + veggie combo. Protein will play a pivotal role in your meals as it helps maintain your muscle mass. Look for options that are baked, grilled, or steamed as opposed to battered, braised, fried, or sauteed. You’ll want to avoid carb-heavy or fatty sides like fries and pasta as well. These types of sides are often high in calories with little protein or other nutritional value. Instead, swap them out for a salad or vegetable to stay on your diet and avoid an upset stomach.
  4. Keep portion control in mind. Most restaurants serve up to three times the recommended serving size for their entrees. Even if you know this in advance, seeing the food may tempt you to stray from your calorie goal. To avoid this, ask for a to-go box along with your entree so you can put away half of it before you begin your meal. This can help prevent overeating, bloating, and other discomforts. You can also ask if the restaurant offers lunch sizes or half-size entrees as these will be more reasonable portion sizes.
  5. Practice mindful eating. You should pay attention to every bite you take to make sure you savor your meal. Eating too quickly can introduce air into the stomach, which will make you feel bloated and uncomfortable. It also makes it more difficult to tell when you’re full as you’re eating faster than your brain can process. This can lead to overeating, which is uncomfortable and can stretch out your new stomach. Chew slowly and take note of how the food smells and tastes to enjoy the full experience of your meal.

If you don’t enjoy your meals or isolate yourself from your support network after surgery, it will be difficult to stick to your diet. Once you learn which restaurants have the most bariatric-friendly menus, you can order out with your friends and family with ease. Contact us to learn more about bariatric surgery for weight loss.