By Ayotunde Adeyeri, MD, FASMBS
After weight loss surgery, many people are justifiably nervous about facing holiday meals and parties with a much smaller stomach.
In some cases, we see patients act so conservatively, they don’t eat enough; others may be tempted (or swayed) to veer away from their bariatric nutrition plans.
First and foremost, remember that food is now fuel for your body, nothing more.
Your job is to get the biggest nutritional buck out of smaller food portions to give yourself energy and optimal health.
Here are some quick refreshers to keep in mind:
Protein = Your Body’s Best Friend
Protein is the most valuable nutrient in the bariatric diet. Eat these foods first, in case you feel full and cannot finish your meal. Choose eggs, poultry, meats, fish, low-fat cheese, low-fat or fat-free milk, beans, lentils and soy products.
Build-in protein supplement drinks per your bariatric dietitian’s instruction and strive for 60-80 grams daily.
If you’re approaching goal weight, you still don’t need to add empty calories from artificial carbohydrates or sugars.
These foods can quickly reignite bad habits that ‘the old you’ may have battled.
Holiday Festivities Eating Strategies
· Check your portion sizes
Buffets can be deceiving. Be particularly careful of portion sizes. If you’re in a restaurant, get a to-go box to pass on your leftovers. Don’t be embarrassed to use a salad plate. From what people tell, me they get more compliments than quizzical looks by doing so.
· Eat Three Meals Daily No Matter What
The party tonight doesn’t mean you should skip lunch. Eating three meals daily helps to prevent “grazing,” which can add many calories between meals. Most long-term post-op bariatric patients find they need to limit their total caloric intake to less than 1,000 calories per day to maintain their weight-loss.
· Go Ahead–Play with Your Food
Since most bariatric patients were fast eaters in their previous lives, this can be a challenging behavior to change. Make it into a game—see how disinterested you can be in your food. This small effort can be surprisingly empowering. You are in charge of the food, not the other way around.
· Chew Well…or Else
Chew foods well to ensure that nothing gets stuck passing through the narrowed outlet from the pouch. Failure to eat small portions can lead to vomiting, which can put a real damper on your social life.
· Plan ahead
Eat something before you go, plan what you’ll eat at the event and have plenty of water with you. Create a response when someone hands you a piece of cake (or accept it and discreetly get rid of it).
We are all pulled out of our comfort zones now and then, and the holiday season after your weight loss surgery is undoubtedly one of those times. But with some forethought and adopting these tips here, you’ll welcome 2020 feeling stronger and more empowered than ever.
To all of my inspiring past, present and future patients, my wildly talented staff and my esteemed colleagues, I wish you a blessed holiday season, serenity, joy and good health for many years to come.
Dr. Adeyeri, 2019