Things are different when you have a four ounce stomach instead of a big ole floppy handbag to fill with food. We used to save best for last, but now we’d better eat it first! Now we have to chew food and think about the texture. No more big bites!
Here is our short list of smart and essential bariatric tips. Share with a bariatric friend who can use the help or your Surgeon’s Facebook Group!
1. Sit at a Table.
Before surgery, many of us inhaled our meal in front of the television or while standing over the sink. We ate from styrofoam containers with a fork. It’s very important to put your portion on a small plate, sit down at a table and pay attention to what you are eating. Dine rather than eat – put out a napkin and fork and make the food look nice. People comment that after surgery food tastes better because they actually pay attention to what they are eating and enjoy the flavors. Taste your food! Really enjoy it.
Try putting the fork on the table between bites. Chew well, eat slowly. Really pay attention for that sign or signal that you are nearing fullness, so you can stop. Too big a piece of chicken swallowed before chewing well can get stuck in pouch for hours, not paying attention can put you in the too full zone and you will be MISERABLE until the offending food comes back up. TMI ALERT: When food comes up, there is triple the volume of what you ate plus foam and ropy slime. It totally ruins your day and is exhausting.
3. Plan an Occasional SF Dessert.
You don’t go from Little Debbie, Reese’s Cups and Ben & Jerry’s to NOTHING in a day and expect it to last forever. That’s not a plan. I knew I couldn’t live the rest of my life without a sweet, so I make an occasional sugar free dessert for my family and use very small dishes. In the past two months, I’ve made sugar free Strawberry Jello with raspberries, homemade Magic Sugar Free Strawberry Ice Cream, fresh fruit sauces, sugar free Vanilla Egg Custard. I have maintained control over not consuming sugar for fourteen years and its because I shoot down cravings for sweets before they start with low calorie sugar free solutions.
Oh and PLEASE stop telling me that Splenda is bad. Being 300 pounds is bad. Just because you have a sleeve and ‘sugar doesn’t make you sick’ doesn’t mean you should jump into a bag of it. That is a terrible plan besides being very high in calories. Sugar was a food group responsible for our morbid obesity. Don’t kid yourself.
4. Eat at Home.
Chain restaurants achieve consistency of flavors with the use of processed sauces and packaged components that have hidden ingredients like high fructose corn syrup food starches and fat. At home, when you roast a chicken thigh and pair it with a simple salad you know what is on the plate. There isn’t really anything for us at Olive Garden now that we can’t eat breadsticks dipped in Alfredo sauce. At home, you know what the ingredients are. If you want to lose weight, eat fresh simple food that you control.
There are generations of people who do not know how to feed themselves. If you are one of them, break the obesity cycle and begin to cook meals for yourself, your family and friends. It’s healthier for everyone in the house. Normally there is one person who is gatekeeper for the food that comes into the home; if that person is you, what a huge responsibility. Make better choices for yourself and for your family. Take the opportunity a meal affords to find out what your spouse and kids are doing. Families who sit around a table and share time are healthier, have lower incidence of teen pregnancies, receive more job promotions and achieve high levels of eduction. Call them to the table for a meal! We have hundreds of simple, easy to cook, tested recipes on our site – click on Bariatric Recipes on our top navigation bar.
Tonight, make our Five Minute Bonus Recipe for Italian Meatball Soup. To a big pot, add a 32 ounce carton Swanson Tuscan Chicken Flavor Broth, a 15 ounce can of Hunt’s Petite Diced Tomatoes, a can of Progresso White Cannellini beans (rinsed and drained), a package of Aidells Italian Meatballs (near supermarket hot dog section). Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer five minutes. Ladle into bowls and add Parmesan. The Crowd Goes Wild. You did it!
6. Don’t Buy the Stuff You Don’t Want to Eat.
If there aren’t any diet killing snack foods in your kitchen, you can’t eat them. Bluntly, if you don’t buy Chocolate Eggs, you can’t eat Chocolate Eggs. If you don’t buy Doritos, you can’t eat Doritos. If you don’t buy Bread, you can’t eat Bread. See the pattern here? Get rid of all the foods that are unhealthy, full of carbs and sugar, or those that call your name and stop buying them. Your kids don’t need them either so don’t use the little angels as an excuse to throw them in the cart. Easter is a tough one, as there will be basket candy EVERYWHERE for weeks and after Easter everyone takes it to work.
INSTEAD, buy sugar free Jolly Ranchers or Werther’s Originals and put them in a jar on your desk so you have SOMETHING while everyone else is stuffing themselves silly with Peeps and Cadbury Cream Eggs. Smile… you are getting slimmer and they’re not.
7. Eat within 1 hour of Feet on Floor.
We all know this so let’s just DO IT so people can stop telling us to do it. Studies show that people who don’t eat breakfast weigh more than those who do. Skipping breakfast keeps the body in starvation mode. Break the fast and stoke the body with enough energy to burn some of that stored fat. Plus, that protein meal will keep you full until lunch time and on track for a planned day of eating. Bla bla bla… just try it! Morning ain’t pretty in my house and what I find works for me is to make a small Inspire protein drink at the same time I pour my coffee. I take both back into my lair and sip until I am capable of being nice. While I like all the flavors, I am particularly fond of Caramel Latte and Vanilla.
Keep a box of Inspire Protein Bars at your desk – 15g of protein, perfect bariatric size and moist texture – problem solved. POOF.
8. Have Plan of Attack for the Restaurant.
The Outback has over 100 different things to order on their menu. The time to decide what you’ll be eating is not necessarily at the table with Andre the Waiter standing over you describing the Steak & Crab special and talking up the 8000 calorie bomb ‘Bloomin Onion’ with 2000 calorie dish of lip smacking dipping sauce. Almost all restaurants have websites and full menus online. Look at the menu in advance to get an idea of what appetizers or entrees will work for your surgery. It’s a lot easier knowing before you arrive that a small house salad comes with the meal and that you can order the Special Sirloin with broccoli instead of a loaded twice baked potato. If your stop is spur of moment, unless you’re at a Waffle House, there will be a Shrimp Cocktail, a mainstay of proper bariatric eating.
9. Stay on the MENU
The waiter does not know how the entree is made. He is there to take your order, not discuss food preferences or your MEDICAL HISTORY. He also doesn’t know if the mango salsa has sugar in it. Assume it does and order something else. Find something on the menu that sounds moist or tender without restructuring the entire dish.
It’s cool to ask if you can have broccoli instead of baked potato, the burrito served ‘naked’ without the tortilla, your dressing on the side, to bring your shrimp appetizer with everyone’s entree, or have him take away the water glass so you don’t sip it with your food, but inventing a new dish or being super picky screws up the timing in the kitchen and all meals at your table will suffer. Trust Me, they will do things to your food if that server makes fun of you in the kitchen or if you are are a pain during a busy 7pm dinner service. STAY ON THE MENU!
If all this is too much for you, remember that it takes time and patience. You have a solid seven to twelve months to learn new habits and you won’t have to be perfect to lose that first one hundred pounds. It is after that Honeymoon Period that our choices and new habits or lack of change or new habits will influence how fast or IF we lose the rest. Even more important are the ten to thirty years that follow. In order to PRESERVE our surgically created pouch, we have to change the way we choose our food, the way we eat it, how we chew, and accept that we can never again drink while we eat. The number of years we get to live our new life depends on our willingness to hang in there, embrace the changes and make them our new normal.