For some, continued weight loss and maintenance after bariatric surgery are often marked by detours, crossroads, and U-turns. There are moments you would rather forget, and other moments that you may want to photograph and frame for future reference. You might not even know that some of the habits you pick up along the way are actually quite harmful.
Avoid these seven habits that will pack on the pounds:
- Eating low-fat foods: It’s easy to assume that consuming low-fat foods will equal lost pounds. If we simply avoid high-fat foods, the pounds will drop off, right? Not always. Many shelf-stable and processed low-fat foods have added sugar in order to make up for lost taste. Be consistent in reading labels and checking ingredients. An even better choice is to stick with fresh fruit and veggies and avoid processed food if possible. And don’t forget your protein!
- Choosing filler foods at restaurants: Ah, the basket of bread sticks. The appetizer sampler. Chips and salsa. The options are endless when it comes to pre-meal foods at restaurants. The problem is, so are the carbs. Before you leave for a restaurant, make the decision to say “no” to these calorie-laden disasters. Remember, you want to focus on protein-first. Post-surgery eating habits include smaller meals, so skipping the “fillers” is a great way to save room for the good protein stuff.
- Skipping meals: This habit sounds logical – eat fewer calories, lose more weight. But skipping meals can be detrimental to a healthy lifestyle. Fasting or not eating altogether will drain your energy, lower your blood sugar, slow your metabolism, and cause your body to shift into starvation mode. This can lead to irritability and low energy. Best idea? Keep meals small but healthy and eat at regular intervals. Your ideal option is several smaller meals a day.
- Watching TV while eating: Mindless munching. Midnight snacks. Popcorn with your movie. Do these habits really lead to a higher caloric intake? Yes, because hurrying through a meal means you are not concentrating on the food in front of you, taking the time to enjoy the smell, taste, and texture of your meal.
- Taking large bites: When was the last time you really enjoyed a meal, snack, or dessert? Not just ate a meal, but really paid attention to what you were chewing? The smaller the bites, the longer your meal will last. The longer your meal lasts, the more you enjoy it. You will also eat less because you will become full more quickly. Since the new opening leading from your stomach into the intestine is smaller post-surgery, larger pieces of food can cause blockage. Digestion begins in the mouth, so remember to really chew your food well before swallowing.
- Eating too quickly: When you begin eating a meal, it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to receive the message that your stomach is full. When you eat too quickly, you miss the message your brain is attempting to relay. Just as it takes discipline to take smaller bites, it takes practice to slow down when eating. After your bariatric surgery, eating or drinking too quickly can cause dizziness and vomiting, so give yourself plenty of time to eat a meal (about a half hour).
- Not seeking support: Working toward a healthier lifestyle and a more sensible weight is difficult to accomplish on your own. A key to success on this journey is looking for health and fitness advice from others who have been down this road. Ask someone to hold you accountable, to walk with you on your lunch break, or to log calories while you do the same. Also, scheduling regular follow up visits with the dietitians and physician assistant. They are here to help you be as successful as possible! Don’t do it alone; we can all benefit from better food choices and more physical activity. Grab a partner and get moving!
A study was recently completed of adults who opted for bariatric surgery, and the results are hopeful: Weight-loss surgery may prolong life for obese adults. Better eating habits go hand in hand with a long, healthy life after bariatric weight loss surgery. Weight loss may not be as difficult as it seems. Be mindful of that food you’re chewing, buddy up, and slow down. You are worth it!