By Ayotunde Adeyeri, MD, FASMBS
You might think this is an odd headline for an article authored by a surgeon who treats obesity and performs surgical weight loss, but these are not normal times.
Regardless of the number you see on the scale or your overall health at the moment, we all need to work together to do whatever we can to bolster our health to help offset serious medical conditions, many brought on by obesity.
If you read any media, you know that scientists and doctors have already reported that obese patients diagnosed with COVID-19 often suffer more severe symptoms and experience longer recovery times than people who maintain a healthy weight.
What you read is 100% true—food is a medicine that can keep you healthy by bolstering your immune system and eliminating or reducing symptoms stemming from existing chronic conditions. During this pandemic, many people are reassessing what food can—and cannot—do.
Food cannot solve problems, make COVID-19 go away (unfortunately), keep you company or solve your boredom.
These foods are not hard to find, nor are they prohibitively expensive. Most are easy to build into your daily bariatric nutrition plan.
Let’s look at three chronic medical conditions Americans most commonly suffer from today and identify foods that can help offset the onset of these diseases or keep symptoms at bay:
Your cardiovascular system benefits from the energy in foods you eat. Fresh (or quick-frozen with no additives) and minimally-processed foods should be a priority—include fruits, vegetables, natural whole grains, olives/olive oil and nuts. Gauge calorie-count carefully in your nut portions, however.
Tip: Instead of eating whole almonds and walnuts, buy them sliced or in small pieces. (There’s no mention of meat here, and that’s intentional). If you must buy processed, be sure to look for sugar-free, low salt and low or no saturated fats.
Whether you’re trying to prevent or manage diabetes, your nutritional needs are virtually the same as everyone else, so no special foods are necessary. Carbohydrate reduction is key to minimize diabetes.
While following the heart-healthy diet above can certainly help, resolving or avoiding obesity, and the low food quality that goes along with it, is essential.
Risk increases if you tend to carry excess weight around your abdomen, also. Again, if it comes in a bag or box, it’s probably highly processed. Focus on eating whole food at set times during each day.
Bariatric surgery can also put type 2 diabetes into remission, often as soon as a few weeks after surgery.
Practicing healthy lifestyle habits, like eating a balanced diet rich in protein, calcium and vitamin D, will go a long way in keeping bones strong, especially as you age.
Therefore, focus on a diet that consistently includes lean meats, fish, beans and legumes, eggs, vegetables, fruit, dairy, and foods fortified with calcium and vitamin D.
Getting enough calcium and vitamin D from food can be tricky, particularly for older people who are less tolerant of dairy products. In this case, you may benefit from taking specific supplements prescribed by your doctor after reviewing your lab results.
Remember, while it is commendable that you begin buying foods that will help offset serious chronic conditions, you have to actually consume them as well.
If you take a look in the fruit and vegetable drawers in your refrigerator and discover items that are no longer fresh, this is a clue that you should buy less or eat more.
Finally, I encourage you to discuss your disease prevention nutrition plan with your healthcare provider.
If you have tried many diets and exercise programs and are still faced with more than 75 pounds to lose, I would be happy to set up a telehealth visit with you to discuss possible weight loss surgery options, if you qualify.
Call our team of respectful and friendly healthcare administrators at (732) 217-3897 to confirm your medical insurance and set up an appointment soon.
There has never been a more important time than now to prioritize health and weight management in your life.