Foods are not all equal when it comes to how they impact our body weight. We all know someone who can eat anything and not gain weight but having bariatric surgery didn’t turn me into one of them!

It has been shown that people who eat the following foods on a regular basis are more likely to be obese. 

If you are overweight, obese or morbidly obese and you believe that you eat the same foods as your naturally slim friends, it is a relatively sure bet that you are mistaken. I know this is harsh and it has taken me many years to see this in myself but I did not make the same choices as those around me who were slim. Being ‘naturally’ slim is not just by design, it’s also by the preferences they have and choices they make that sometimes seem effortless to those of us who struggle with weight. Studies show that people who are slim don’t look for reasons to indulge and keep a similar schedule by consuming moderate or lower calorie foods day in and day out.

The glaring reality is that obese people DO make poor choices – some of these foods are calorie dense, while others are naturally large and hard to eat in smaller portions. Some are BOTH high in calories and difficult to consume in daintier amounts.

It’s no surprise that folks who eat these foods on a regular basis, pack on and maintain heavier body weights. The solution is awareness, portion control and simply choosing foods that taste as good that are not so high in calories. We have to first see it and then work to change it.


8 Food Picks of Overweight People - Bariatric Eating


Here are 8 foods that overweight people tend to choose:

1. Fancy Coffee Drinks
Specialty coffee drinks are unbelievably high in calories and have most certainly contributed to our out of control obesity. We all know people who perpetually have a Venti coffee cup in hand. Hot, cold, whipped cream, straw, sprinkles, syrup… a Starbucks Caramel Brûlée Latte yummily featured on the CHALKBOARD has 560 calories and the Pumpkin Spice Latte 510… and that’s just crazy. We all know people who arrive at the office with one in hand and come back from lunch with another.

If you love coffee, order a coffee and add Splenda, fat free milk, nutmeg and cinnamon at the counter! Your daily coffee can be more along lines of a regular cappuccino which is more like coffee and less like an ice cream sundae. Shift your boundaries and enjoy things that fit in your caloric budget.

2. Bagels
No doubt that bagels are delicious and easy to grab and go en route to the office, but twenty years ago a bagel was about one third the size they are today. Bagels cause weight gain because they are large and dense. Giant coffee shop bagels, BEFORE spreading with butter or cream cheese or filling with egg bacon and cheese, can have 500 calories. Plus no one eats a bagel plain. Obvious problem.

3. Cream Cheese
Most people slather Cream Cheese on their 500 calorie bagel. Cream cheese is very high in fat and calories. Five tablespoons of cream cheese has 250 calories and 25 grams of fat and five tablespoons is not a lot to use on a bagel the size of your head. The scoop used to portion the cream cheese for ‘bagel with cream cheese’ at Dunkin Donuts is more than 5 tablespoons! (trust me, I used to be gleeful at sight of one inch of cream cheese on a Dunkin ‘Everything’ Bagel)

Reduced fat cream cheese, called Neufchâtel, is really good and has about half the calories. Even better would be for you to swap the hub cap sized bagel for something better for you that does not require cream cheese (or at least not that much of the high fat stuff).

4. Salad Dressing
You may think you’re making a healthy choice by having a house salad but blue cheese or ranch dressing drowns health benefits with fat and 200 to 300 calories. We all agree that creamy blue cheese dressing is delish, but a drizzle of olive oil and squeeze of fresh lemon or balsamic vinegar accents the fresh flavors and tastes good. Dining out doesn’t mean open permission to treat yourself to the highest calorie options. Respect yourself.

5. Processed Carbs
Pasta, rice, bread, tortillas, cake and doughnuts represent thousands of extra calories for people who consume these carbs – White Flour is nutritionally useless and provides the base for empty calories from a second whammy of high fructose corn syrup that is in baked and packaged goods consumers buy every day.

Portions for many of these foods are so large it is easy to consume much more than intended. One cup of cooked pasta is about 200 calories before adding sauce. There are very few US restaurants that would ever serve less than a 2 cup portion so we are already at 400 calories and when that pasta serves as the bed for Shrimp Scampi, the dish can easily top 1200 calories with 50 grams of fat. I recently dined with a gastric sleeve friend who ordered Shrimp Scampi without the pasta but then asked for rice instead. She dumped the rice into the inch of butter/margarine/garlic in the bottom of the shrimp bowl to soak up all that fat and then ate it all. She is upset she is seventy pounds heavier than during her ‘Honeymoon Period’ yet says she has not changed a single thing about how she eats.

A better and lower calorie option (and equally delicious) would have been Old Bay seasoned steamed shrimp with side salad – even with blue cheese dressing at least it would not have been two high fat high calorie choices. Just sayin’.

6. High Calorie Beverages
Smoothies are touted as having vitamins and some even antioxidants or calcium. However, it is very easy to unwittingly consume a lot more calories than we believe. People mistakenly switch from soda to smoothies thinking it’s healthier and can easily suck down 800 calories of sweetened fruit in a flash. ISN’T FRUIT HEALTHY? Yes, but we use HUGE GLASSES or CUPS that blur our sense of portion size. We can drink an entire days worth of calories and wonder why we are gaining. Thats why zero calorie liquids are essential for weight loss and maintenance.

Do this experiment in your own kitchen – fill your favorite glass with water as if you were pouring yourself juice or milk. Get out a measuring cup and prepare to be shocked by the actual volume of your pour! Now measure 1 cup of water into that favorite glass and take note of how small an amount it is!

Sweetened beverages run about 200 calories per 8 ounces in a world where 24 to 32 ounce cups are the norm. The Healthy Low Fat Super Fruit Smoothie at Panera Bread is 350 calories and has 68 grams of sugar…and its only 16 ounces!

A friend of mine with a gastric sleeve downs Sweet Tea by the gallon. Hundreds of calories a day. Boom. She also drinks her Sweet Tea with her meals, washing food through her sleeve, but that’s for another post.

7. Chips and Crackers
Most commercial bagged snacks – corn chips, potato chips, tortilla chips – are high in trans fat. Many also contain genetically engineered ingredients. Vegetable chips are just as high in fat and most don’t realize that the apple and banana chips they think are healthy are first soaked in sugar syrup and then DEEP FRIED. Thats why they are crisp. Sweet potato or yucca chips are identical in nutrition to POTATO CHIPS so please do not kid yourself.

8. Chinese Food
Kung Pao Chicken, Sweet & Sour Pork and General Tso’s Chicken are all huge calorie bombs. High in fat and sugar, these American Chinese dishes are made with battered and deep fried pieces of chicken or pork tossed in sauces that are sky high in sugar. Chinese food can be fresh light delicious and crazy healthy but choosing a dish that is not deep fried is essential. Avoid Egg Rolls and Crab Rangoon; also American dishes that are very high in fat and calories.

MAYBE, just maybe it would be a good idea to order a CHINESE DISH THAT HAS VEGETABLES IN IT! Yes, vegetables. Recently in one of our support groups a post op proudly displayed her plate from a Chinese Buffet that had a pile of cold shrimp, a bigger pile of deep fried honey dipped chicken bits, and deep fried mini egg rolls. She thought that just because it was LESS than her usual supper she was doing well. The same food that brought you to surgery in smaller portions doesn’t work for long. Stop choosing the highest calorie things on the menu, stop eating FRIED FOODS and things dipped in sweet sauces.


Old habits die hard but they are just habits. Tastes can be retrained but we first have to come to terms and accept that it IS within our control and we DID cause our own obesity. Bariatric surgery is just a tool to use to help us get out from under the burden of 100 pounds or more but after that it’s up to us. After the ‘Honeymoon Period’ where weight loss is automatic, we are driving the car and need to use the surgically created tool to stay on the highway. Know what you are eating and think as to whether or not that 500 calorie creamed spinach would make you that much happier than 70 calorie grilled asparagus. Which one would your naturally slim friend choose?

31 thoughts on “8 Foods Picks of Overweight People

  1. Jane Smith says:

    I had surgery 9 years ago. I still use the tools (small plate, chew chew chew, protein first, veg then carb) I learned at the classes I attended during/after the surgery. However I still read your site because you bring me back to reality and the basics I forget or get lazy about. This lesson about *Food Picks of Overweight* again brought me back to thinking about food and my choices. I am 10 lbs over what my initial weight loss was and am determined to return to that weight with your help. I recently stopped drinking with meals (something else I forgot), Thank you for your work and your honesty.

    • Susan Maria Leach says:

      Thanks for your positivity! I think many of us were under the impression we would have surgery and go on with an automatically slimmer life… lol. We didnt realize we were going to emerge after the initial weight drop and have to fight weight just like everyone else!

  2. Tracy C says:

    I’m 3 years post op and maintaining through clean eating and hard workouts,  currently riding a “good wave”,(even 3 years out I know these Good waves need to be enjoyed and nurtured as a bad wave is inevitable)-
    Your article about HIIT is proving itself- just started incorporating this into workouts over the past 5 weeks and have noticed a significantly leaner look-I look forward to these articles as they are positive, no nonsense and filled with actionable items. Thanks for providing a great resource-

    • Susan Maria Leach says:

      It is amazing isn’t it? Such a huge difference for so little work! My husband lost 31 pounds just changing from walking to adding a few ‘bursts’ of running into his exercise days. He is the one who begged me to start HIIT and I am blown away. Even I can commit to such short workouts and because I am seeing such fast results it makes me happy to do it. Thank you for your compliments! We were not handed a ‘manual’ with our surgery so its been a challenge moving through life and experiencing the changes that the years bring.

  3. Nicole Bonck says:

    Thank you for the reminders. I do have a question…I am four years out and wonder how important is the 30 minute “no drinking” rule? I was taught not to drink 30 min prior to, while, or 30 min after eating. Thanks! Nicole

    • Susan Maria Leach says:

      You can drink right up until you take your first bite… after you begin eating, no drinking unless you are choking. There is a silly little study people are giving as reason to eat and drink at the same time, but in all my years and tens of thousands of post ops I have dealt with, the people who have rapidly gained back most weight are the ones who drink with meals… and most of them are the soda drinkers as well.

      You can drink right before you eat because that liquid dribbles right through your pouch. However after you have taken a couple of bites of food, those same sips wash the food through, leaving room for more… and more… and more.

      Even after fourteen years, I don’t have a set time… last night I ate some steak that was rather dense and it stayed in my pouch for a very long time… hours. If I had sipped water, I would have thrown it up. I can feel the food ‘clear’ the pouch… if its something light such as a salad with a few shrimp or chopped egg, it clears quickly but pork or beef takes a LONG time. So go by feel or at least try to recognize feel… and you will see what I mean.

  4. Jerry Greeson says:

    4 years out and have gained 40 pounds back. It is so hard to lose weight and I am directed to your web site by a friend who had the surgery and follows your site regularly. I hope to start soon to take back my life and get rid of those 40 lbs.

  5. Kathy Dockery says:

    Thank you.. I was truly blessed the day I found your site.. It kept popping up and I finally clicked on it.. I have gotten back on my vitamins, order the protein powder religiously.. Dutch chocolate cake is so far my favorite.. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.. 7yrs out and regained 62lbs and with your help I have managed to lose 14 of those.. Still trying.. 

  6. Janet Devinney says:

    I am 10 years out and have gained at least half my weight loss back. I am almost 74, live with my son and family, get almost no exercise. My skin is so puckered I am embarrassed to wear shorts! I know one of my probs is drinking coffee in a.m. and flavored waters at other times. And salads! Walmart has these southwestern salads that are close to 1000 calories each! But it’s the only thing I look forward to. My clothes keep getting tighter. In 1-1/2 years we will be going to Hawaii. Is there any hope for me?

  7. Susan Shropshire, RN CBN says:

    susan, I commend you for your excellent articles. As a Bariatric Coordinator, I lead 4 bariatric support groups (2 pre-op, 2 post-op) and am always sending people to your site and sharing your articles with them. Your information is on-target and interestig and the posts are a great way for others to add to the shared info. Thank you and congrats on your continuing successful weight loss journey. You are an inspiration!

    • Susan Maria Leach says:

      Thank you Susan! I appreciate your putting faith in us. We work hard and love when bariatric coordinators are in it to really make a difference. We love your patients… they know the deal and help us to tell the others that GUMMY VITAMINS don’t cut it.
      We are starting a Facebook Group for Professionals… so you can contact us when you need supplies. Ciao bella. Suze

  8. Kathleen says:

    I love reading all your good comments. I am 6 months out and have lost 90 lbs. This article was very good because it lets you know what is good for you and also bad for you. My daughter made scrambled eggs and I was going to have half of a thin bagel but after reading the article I decided to forgo the bagel. Thanks

  9. Shawna says:

    I am 9 years out from Gastric bypass. I wasn’t given the directions after the initial 6 months. I have struggled. I am 70 pounds heavier from lowest weight loss. How can I get back on track? 

  10. Lorry says:

    Susan, Like you I also went into the relatively unknown bypass surgery in 2001. I was 51 and 375 lbs. could not walk. My tongue was swollen, one good thing I was then and now never diabetic but had back, leg, knee issues, sleep apnea and high blood pressure. It was the best day of my life. I was terrified. Blood pressure problem was gone so quickly after. I have the throwing up issues with drinking also and still do so some times. I am crazy. But when I reached my lowest weight of 174 within a year I was so happy. Then I tried something new, got on a scooter in Key West and broke my leg. Well, I lost another 10 lbs. Surgery for the leg was awful. Back to now, I have had some major surgeries in the last two years, one was a side affect of the bypass surgery. I am doing well now. BUT, I have gained 30 lbs since 2001. Don’t like it. I can’t seem to get back on track but I so want to. I just simply know I eat the wrong things and can’t stop. CAN YOU GET MY MIND ON TRACK.

      • Joyce Hilliard says:

        Hi,I’m 11 months out. I’m at a stall,can’t seem to get back on my weight loss I have lost 73lb I feel hungry all the time I’m still eating healthy but i don’t feel the restrictions I have to get, Back on Track .reading the comments has taught me things I wasn’t told doin or after my surgery i am Blessed to have your website, Thanks Joyce

  11. Beverly Scarpulla says:

    If you want a frozy coffee drink try the chocolate protein powder made with milk or milk substitute of your choice blended with a teaspoon of instant coffee granules or buy the mocha flavored protein powder if you can find it. Delicious and on plan. :0)

  12. Lisa Bruns says:

    I had the gastric September 6, 2012. I initially lost 100 lbs., but have gained most of it back. My eating is out of control. HELP! Someone/anyone tell me what to do. I already feel like a failure at life. I don’t want this surgery to be another one.

  13. Linda Williams-Sieg says:

    Hello Susan and Administrative team!
    Thank you, thank you, thank you!
    So happy this group has become so active! I have missed the
    Facebook feeds I used to receive! Now this Group is truly my
    motivation. Gastric Sleeve on 4/1/2015 SW 220 CW 163 GW 150!
    Your products and website have been so inspirational.
    Just wanted you to know how much I appreciate you and your team!
    Regards, Linda

  14. Karen says:

    Wise words and great advice, as always! Personally, I haven’t had a bagel since 2006 (3 years before my RNY) when I was diagnosed with diabetes. One bagel contains an entire day’s worth of carbs. No thanks!

    Your very last sentence though, reminded me of one of my naturally slim friends, whose lips would never touch a vegetable, whether creamed or grilled. Instead, my 99-pound, middle-aged friend subsists on a diet of mainly processed, fried, and fast foods. But she is also a small-framed Asian, so genetics is clearly on her side. Obviously, no one is immune from gaining weight, but some folks are very definitely blessed in the genetics department, as opposed to folks like me, who weighed nearly 11 lbs. at birth and have been overweight for literally my entire life (and obese for the majority of it.) And my mother was an R.D. and Chief Dietitian at our local hospital, so it was not due to my being raised with poor nutritional habits. In fact, I first started going to Weight Watchers in 1970 when I was 7 years old. My point is that some of us have more of a handicap than others in the weight department. And so we appreciate all the more your wonderful website and products. Thank you!

  15. Renee Redding says:

    You are absolutely right I’m three months into this journey with my gastric sleeve and I’m constantly having to stop and say no that’s the wrong choice what’s better because doing what I did before is not going to get me any different results thanks for always putting these reminders before us.

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