I have gathered and developed some crazy good ‘real life’ tips that have worked for many (cough cough sixteen) bariatric years. I hope they help you, no matter what mile marker you’ve reached in your bariatric journey.

Mad Coping Skills for Bariatric Life!

More came up than went down!
What are real life tips? Well, those are tips by folks who LIVE IT as opposed to those who SAY IT. As an example, your nutritionist told you that you were ‘released to eat chicken’ so you stopped and had a chicken strip at Chick Fil A on the way home where it remained undigested in your pouch for almost 4 hours before you not only gaked up the small volume of chewed chicken but at least four times as much foam and slime. In addition you had to stop the car three times on the way home to throw up more slime into the bag. The Lesson? Your pouch was not following the same timeline as your surgeons program. We will say ‘told you so!’  Be wary of what folks tell you about early eating with bariatric surgery if they haven’t lived it.

The only difference? A smaller stomach!
It is easy to run off the rails as we have lived an most of our lives without surgery. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but after a while it is almost all back on our shoulders, just as it was before bariatric surgery. We are exactly the same person after surgery… with a smaller stomach. While it will be easier to lose weight the weight only stays away IF you change bad food habits (and exercise).

Most don’t know that 140 pounds may not be ‘gone forever’ and are even cocky about it because they are only two or five or seven years post op and that big life changing event has not yet hit the fan. They may have gained back a few pounds but they haven’t lived long enough for twenty pounds to turn into thirty, then fifty or if life really whacks you hard… seventy pounds or more. Bariatric surgery alone will hold back the water for a long time, but if you don’t do something about that raging river, the dam will eventually break.

Hard line means don’t go there
I am sixteen years RNY with a strong ‘hard line’ that I have never crossed. One that I can’t cross… that I won’t cross. I know that if I ever did, it would be over for me. If the Sugar Genie ever got out of the bottle what would stop me from baking and eating the German Chocolate Cupcakes I watched Ina Garten make on TV this morning? The fact I had horrifying body altering surgery stops me!

I obviously have ‘cereal killer’ food tendencies that I don’t act upon. Nothing would stop me with those German Chocolate Cupcakes. (the coconut pecan frosting actually) Therefore I have a hard line. I would never bake them or even consider having a bite of one.  I stick to my little no sugar desserts and am genuinely happy with them. I have new foods to love that don’t take me where I don’t want to go!

Cucumbers are not Nilla Wafers & fudge doesn’t call my name.
It is critical to find that healthy balanced way to LIVE comfortably. We can’t always slap the box out of our husbands hands at the grocery store. It’s not fair. I was the one with the problem, shouldn’t my husband be able to have peanut butter on Nilla Wafers if he wants them? If Ty is going to buy a snack, I try and influence him to choose something that is far over my personal line where there is not a question as to whether I can have it.

My husband Ty bought a package of chocolate peanut butter fudge at Fresh Market about two weeks ago. It doesn’t phase me or temp me at all as it’s an absolute no without wiggle room. I choose to not have ANY. Yesterday he bought a bag of gum drops. I don’t care about them!

I’m all about that soft line
I know how much sugar is in food as I have become an expert over the years. Natural sugar is in a small dish of berries or half a crisp apple, but there are some foods with added sugar where even a bite is over the hard line. Sugar includes white, brown, maple, honey, fructose, white grape concentrate, in the raw, agave, cane juice, evaporated cane juice – none are ‘better for you’ than sugar – they ARE sugar – added sugar is bad.

While I may or may not choose to eat a bite of the custard from my husbands creme brûlée dessert after I have eaten steak (soft line) while dining out, I would NEVER take a bite with the crackly burnt sugar top (hard line). There is a subtle but big difference. Navigate and establish your own hard lines for your food life after surgery.

Trick yourself!
I negotiate deals with myself. It may sound nutty, but you might want to try it. “Susan, if you keep your mitts out of that bread basket before your meal arrives, you can tear off a piece of roll once you’ve eaten half of your salmon.”

The crazy part is that it works. Once I have eaten half my salmon, the satiety has kicked in that allows me to take control and NOT act upon my deal, even though I have permission as per the terms. Off the charts is that I know this is how it will end up when I make the deal. How’s that for outsmarting yourself?

Death of the 3 Bite Rule
There is no more ‘three bite rule’. It used to be “Bite 1 was a taste, bite 2 confirmed it was as good as you thought it would be, bite 3 was the goodbye.” That bit of early post op idealism seemed okay early on, weaned me off holiday food and got me to this point, but now I know better. It was not cool of me to encourage others to do it as it got many into deep water. It’s like a hand tossed margarita. One is good. Two is a lot of fun. But if you ever find yourself saying yes to a third one, you have just signed on for a 2am party night that you will regret for the entire week after if your head doesn’t explode first. If you don’t drink you won’t get this, but if you do it will be crystal clear.

What kind of bread?
Bread is not an issue as long as it is crummy supermarket stuff. I’m not going to blow my workouts over white bread, hot dog buns, a packaged tortilla or anything ordinary. However a warm loaf of semolina bread they are taking from the oven at Joes Italian Market? It is hard but I cant have it in the house. I gained weight back because I convinced myself that I could handle Everything in Moderation. I can’t. I wasn’t able to handle EIM before and bariatric surgery didn’t suddenly change that. Therefore, no more bakery artisans bread. It makes me hungry and I keep going back for more. Done.

The Panera Game
There isn’t one thing in my house at this moment calling my name. I am in a really good place with food. Losing 53 pounds and having worked both smart and hard to do it has changed my way of living. We eat at Panera Bread a lot because the food is ‘clean’ and there are healthy option. I even have a bit of an obsession going. For the first time in my life I am weighing food options based on something other than how much I get. I USED TO THINK ABOUT WHAT CHOICE WOULD GET ME THE MOST FOOD! While that is now embarrassing and shocking to me, you know exactly what I am talking about. Now, I think about getting something delicious that has protein and is really low in calories. I look at the calories and see how low I can go and still get something good. WHY would I want 400 calorie Tomato when Chicken Noodle  is 80 Calories a cup. Done. I cant even bring myself to WANT it anymore.

Half a Power Chicken Hummus Bowl is 170 calories, 9 carbs, 18 protein and rockin delicious!
Half a Chicken Cobb Salad is 270 calories, 5 carbs, 20 protein and is wonderful!
Half a Greek Chicken Salad is 270 calories, 7 carbs, 17 protein and yummy!
A Chicken Lentil Quinoa Broth Bowl is 370 calories, 50 carbs (if you eat it all), 33 protein and CRAZY GOOD!

IF this article speaks to you. Join me in getting Back on Track, round two. I am losing another 20 pounds. Resolve. Will not stop until I do it. If you’d like to do so as well, this is how… 5 Protein Drinks a day, plus ONE Healthy Protein Supper!


52 thoughts on “Developing ‘Mad Coping Skills’ for Bariatric Life!

  1. Tracey M says:

    I love reading your helpful hints and inspirational blurbs. Ian two years out. Down 180 pounds and become a vegetarian. I still have a believe mocha drink every morning. Your comments about the sugar here just hit a nerve and I realize if I don’t stop with allowing myself a high sugar treat (it’s the only cheat I allow myself) now and the. It could get ugly. I am going back to only sugar free options!!! 

    • Jim North says:

      I lost 110 lbs after RNY surgery 2011. Coming up to 5th anniversary. Regained 34 pounds in years 2-3 then went vegan and lost the 34 regained and lost another 40 and am continuing to lose. I follow the Forks over Knives eating plan lifestyle as much as possible: whole grains and fruits, soy and other legumes, nuts (as a garnish, not a meal), and minimally processed foods. The “volume” works well for me… Real food is dense, delicious, and varied. And yes, most sugars and chocolate are constant temptations. And I walk every day and log all my food. Thanks for your inspiring blog posts.

  2. Donna Sutphin says:

    Wow, I think you know me pretty well. I had RNY in 2006 lost 120 pounds and over the coarse of time have gained back 15 pounds. I don’t want 15 to turn into 150. I know it can happen.
    I still wanted to lose 15 pounds that I never got past on the scale.

    • Jane Smith says:

      I had my surgery in 2005. Lost 107 lbs and then stopped losing until 2015. During my husbands illness and then death this past year I lost 30 more lbs. After thinking back to how I lost 30 lbs and didn’t even know it except my clothes were falling off me, I realized I was so active from taking care of him, taking care of animals, taking care of house and yard, I didn’t have time to think about food (not to shop, not to plan, not to watch tv cooking shows) I just ate to survive when I was hungry. Now that I am aware of this and want to maintain this weight loss, I choose to be active and only keep allowed foods in the house. If crappy food comes in -I will consume it . I have cleaned out all the cabinets of out of bounds food and outdated food. I am just loving my new found freedom to eat and maintain my weight loss and be responsible.

  3. Susan Moree says:

    Great tips…i need these. 6 weeks out and have lost 30 pounds. Already worried about putting it back on…

  4. Diane says:

    I battle depression every day, I had it before surgery and still after surgery.  Had it all my life.  Food is my comfort.  I recently gained back 18lbs and I’m just out of control and I don’t know how to stop it.  I have no self control and I don’t know what to do.

  5. Judy Nicholas says:

    I had my surgery in 1999 and I’ve gained back 20#.  Starting TODAY, I want to lose that 20#.  I get so disheartened but your tips make it seem absolutely doable.  Thank you!  And here I go……………….

  6. Erica Shimp says:

    Great tips…….3 years out and have gained 15 back.  I’m working hard at getting back on track.  Reading this has confirmed what I already know.  Eat right, exercise and drink water.  You can’t go wrong !!

  7. Andrea A says:

    Susan, your blogs are the best! Logical, honest, and straight forward. Thank you for keeping me on task and in-line 🙂

    • Mary Bolger says:

      I had to get back on track after losing123 lbs recently. I went back to my bariatric therapist/ psychologist and admitted what I had been doing. Hard line to face but feel better in a just a few days. I got all the junk food out of my house, planned my food again and told my family I was struggling. No more hiding! We have worked too hard to let this go. I won’t go back to feeling bad about myself.

  8. Anita Donelson says:

    I love your articles you are a blessing to people since I joined i have been getting myself together watching really what i eat and working out more. I thank God for this opportunity to live a good life again.

  9. Sheryl Decoster says:

    April 28, 2013 lost 66 pounds.  Brother got divorced and came to live with us, bought him a house for him and his kids that had to be completely gutted.  Got him in house, then my nephew with a 9 month old baby came to live with us.  Then baby momma moved in with us. 
    June of 2014 had the house back to ourselves but continued to help both brother with 2teenagers and nephew and baby.
    Fined 12 pounds.  I have made appointment with surgeon about skin removal but need to get the lowest I can. 
    Starting today to take back my life!!  Exceeding with personal trainer and going to follow 5 shakes/1 protein meal a day. 
    I know I can do this!!  I am counting on all of you for help!!!

    Thank you all for supporting each other.  

  10. Fana says:

    I am 5.5 months out from gastric bypass and have lost 106 lbs. Want to lose 30 more. Things are slower but i am happy. Does your stomach eventually not feel as full as in the beginning

    • Mary Bolger says:

      I think it is possible to ” reset” our stomachs and get that full feeling again, by choosing small meals. Tough in the beginning but does work.

  11. KC VSG says:

    I love your site! Thank you for taking the time to keep it updated and continuing to provide that needed education and support! 

  12. Cathy Quirino says:

    Thank you for telling me what I needed to hear. I am 4 years out. I lost 108 but have gained 30. I am depressed and sad because at the 108 loss I felt thin for the first time in my life. Now I feel fat again and it’s not a good thing. I have started exercising again but I have a long way to go and I am scared. 

  13. Tracy says:

    Hi ,I’m 16 week post op..gone from 23 stone 10 Lb to 13 stone 9 pounds…not planning to EVER PUT IT ON AGAIN,to much has changed,my lifestyle,eating …wot I eat how I eat and everything I eat ….I feel so healthy ,why would you want to spoil that ?? Xx

  14. Patricia Sills says:

    I’ve printed off a few of your blogs.  I keep one by my bed at night to read before I go to sleep.  I need constant reinforcements.  I am exercising at the gym and finally look forward to going.  I’ll be 2 years post op in December and have gained a few pounds back. 

    Gag me with a stick- I do not want to be fat again.  Yes, I’ll give up bread, and all the other vices I have an addiction for.   I will start my weight loss journey once again.  I’m like you dear- I can’t have it in the house, in the yard or even when it gets in my mind, I have to get rid of it.

    So count me on board and make it a point to check in daily for my inspiration.

    Thanks for being there and taking the time to share with us.

  15. K. Preston says:

    Surgery in 2008. Lost 161 pounds once i finally stopped losing. But i have since gained back 70. I admit that since the sugar foods dont make me feel sick anymore, I eat them like I did before & bread is my favorite food. I want to get this under control before I regain everything. 

  16. Kathy Goldstein says:

    i am 4 weeks post op. I lost 26 lbs the first 3 weeks but this week not one pound. Will this pass?

  17. deana says:

    I had surgery march 2015 I lost 35 PDS but it seem to have stopped, no weight loss since April 23 what am I doing wrong

  18. Heather says:

    i need help bad I have done horribly in the last 4 years I haven’t gotten tightened bc I lost all my weight pretty much. 
    Then out of no where I started gaining it all back. I have been very disgusted with myself and depressed about it. 
    I have recently started getting tightened again and I go back next month it helped for the first week. 
    But now it’s really not helping anymore I want to be where I was but its so hard to do when the first time
    Wasn’t much of a problem for me. I was in the right frame of mind and now I’m just always discussed.

  19. lisa says:

    Thank you so much for publishing this,especially about the sugar. I have the same rule and have been beat about about it from many directions but the most hurtful are the people on the journey with me. Everyone insists on the freedom to do it their own way, unless you admit to excluding certain food types. the feeling that I would absolutely lose control if sugar were suddenly on my “ok” list is palpable.  I don’t demand or even suggest anyone else do it, but for heavens sake, a little support when I decide to do it would be nice. Like you I rarely miss it and have plenty of treats I enjoy that don’t involve added sugar. Thanks again. 

  20. Teresa says:

    almost 3 mos post op and testing the waters already. Cant do this to myself. 60 lbs off so far. Tried on clothes yesterday. Didnt drop top size due to big arms that i hate. Shouldnt have tried them on!  Ate afterwards. Need a support group. 

  21. Marsha Libla says:

    15 years post optional and I have gained back 50 of the 120 that I lost the first year of my surgery.  I am so stoked to find your blog! I fooled myself the first 8 years and are in moderation but it crept up on me little by little.  Thank you for adding me in advance.  I need this bad!!!

  22. Stephanie Smith says:

    Tracey M.  I am 3 months out and also a vegetarian.  Do you have any pointers for me?  websites? books?

  23. Micki says:

    Desperately  need to hear that it can be controlled.  it has been 12 years and I never got to goal due to experimenting to see if I could tolerate foods. Worst mistake ever! Wish I could do it all again– only the right way.  I am so encouraged by the fact that you are losing again. It gives me hope.  Thank you for sharing.

  24. PEmmy Bishop says:

    Had bypass 10 years ago. Real trouble maintaining magnesium! Got so low my heart stopped! Take magnesium every day x 3. Eat magnesium foods. Struggle to maintain appropriate level. Kept weight off but gained 15 this past year when I retired. Help!

  25. Amanda culkin says:

    I got the sleeve seven months ago. I have lost 60 pounds in the first three months, but now have been on a plateau for four months. I am staying on track and being patient. I have not been exercising though.  I am starting water aerobics soon. I have really bad knees and am limited in mobility.

  26. Christye Davis says:

    My surgery is June 30th and some of the statements are a little scary.   I know I have to have a life style change. 

  27. Pat N says:

    Can’t believe I found this website.  I feel like I was thrown a life vest.  I lost 140 and gained back 30.  I am 4 years out from RNY.  The first 3 years were a honeymoon.  I wish for the days when one bite over the line made me throw up.  Now, I can eat anything although too much sugar causes dumping, that does not stop the binge.  Now my binges are a whole candy bar and not a box of candy bars but when my clothes are all tight and some don’t fit, you get the picture.  I am with you all.  I am a sugarholic and can’t eat any safely.  I got tripped up with the 3 bite rule because it worked for years 2 and 3.  Now, this started with a separation and ugly divorce but my ex is not prying my jaws open and dropping in ice cream.   Thank you thank you thank you.  I ordered some inspire and will start on the program.  All my clothes will fit again in 15 and I could stop at 20 but want to lost the whole 30 to be back at my sweet weight.  (I fit in a size 8 slacks, woo hoo)  I joined the facebook group and look forward to taking this journey with you all.   

  28. Cindi Wangle says:

    I am 2 and 1/2 years out from having my sleeve and I am so happy to have found this site!! I was 3 pounds from goal of 150 this time last year and over the past year I have gained 20 lbs due to bad habits creeping back in.  I have lost a total of 120 since surgery but I am so depressed about the 20 that I have put back on.  This has to stop!!!  I just ordered some inspire protein powder to start the back on track program.  So glad to see that I am not alone…we can do this!!

  29. Sam Sloane says:

    I’m so grateful to have found you guys.  I’m going to be sleeved over the summer, and I’m thankful that I can learn, in advance, what is healthy to do and what isn’t healthy to do.

    I do know that I am not a ‘moderation’ kind of eater.  Having just one, or two bites opens the floodgates to obsession for me.  I really don’t know how anyone can do that!

  30. Kim Oathout says:

    thank you so much for your inspiring words. I am planning gastric bypass in September.  I so did not know what to expect long term. the whole thing is a bit scary and everyone’s journey is different.  I’m a really bad sugar addict. living with gastric bypass for the rest of my life seems like a daunting task.

  31. April says:

    Thank you for that essay and helpful hints. I am only 3 months out and I am trying to live by the hard lines. Whenever someone says oh just have a piece of cake or just eat something else bad I say no I don’t want it. I often explain to friends that once I start especially with sugar I probably won’t be able to stop. My body has been weaned from sugar, I do not miss any of it and I make smarter choices based on calls, carbs, sugar content, & protein and not quantity. I know I am a new by at this but reading encouraging words from those who have travelled the road before me (like yourself) helps to keep me motivated and onThe right track.
    Thank You

  32. Carole says:

    What do you suggest as a protein meal. How to deal with baggy skin after weight loss. Any tips would be helpful/

  33. Kaye M Pereida says:

    I can relate to how that 3 bite rule has been dangerous, those bites have grown in size and with some foods, the rule has gone out the window. I need to get back in control and kick sugar out of my life. Thank you for the encouragement.

  34. Jennifer says:

    Totes agree! Esp re: having a hard line — so tired of newbies in forums saying we should be able to eat anything in moderation. If we could’ve done that we wouldn’t have needed WLS! I have a hard line about many things — only organic, vegetarian, non-GMO, real food goes into my body these days!

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