Most weight loss surgery patients lose weight quickly during the first few months but then slow down. This can be attributable to what you eat and drink to maintain your weight loss. You must know how many calories you are consuming each day. The best way to keep track of this is to keep a food diary because they do add up very easily!
Portion Control is Essential
Bariatric surgery reduces the size of the stomach in order to feel full on a smaller amount of food, thereby consuming less calories which results in weight loss. However, some people who have had gastric bypass surgery still find ways to regain their lost weight. Eating until completely stuffed which stretches and enlarges the small pouch, eating high-calorie, high-fat foods and continuously eating all day long are all contributors to weight gain.
There are important steps you must take to make sure your weight loss continues after surgery:
1. Know how big (or small) your new stomach is and how much food it can hold.
In the initial phases of gastric bypass surgery, your stomach is about the size of a thumb and can hold about ½ cup (4oz) of food at a time. If you have an adjustable band in place, the amount of food consumed varies until you reach the “sweet spot” or “right fit.” At this point, optimal food intake ranges from ½ cup to 1 cup (4-8oz) of food/meal or snack.
2. Eat slowly enough to recognize the feeling of fullness; stop eating just when you feel full - not overfull!
Each meal/snack should last 20-30 minutes. Chew each mouthful completely before swallowing.
3. Aim for satiety.
Satiety is the sensation of being full and satisfied after eating. Satiety is affected by many things including hunger, cravings, social situations, emotions, food choices, and eating habits.
High fiber foods slow down the rate at which food leaves the stomach, thereby creating a longer-lasting feeling of fullness. Incorporate beans/lentils, vegetables, fruits and high fiber (at least 5g fiber/serving) whole grain carbohydrates in your meals daily. High protein foods are also satisfying, so be sure to include lean meats, fish, poultry, low-fat or fat-free dairy and beans/lentils in your eating plan.
Feelings of satiety occur after a balanced, well-planned meal. Therefore, it is recommended to eat 3 small meals a day, adding a snack as needed (ask your dietitian), and avoid grazing. Grazing is a behavior common to people who are disappointed with their weight loss and/or who regain some or all of the weight lost after bariatric surgery. Ask yourself these questions:
•What time of day do I usually graze?
•What else am I doing when I graze? watching television, preparing a meal, studying, etc?
•What are you grazing on and how did you get it?
•What type of food do you crave when you graze or are tempted to graze: chewy, crunchy, sweet, salty?
•How do you feel when you graze or are tempted to graze: bored, tired, stressed, anxious, depressed, etc?
To further slow down the time it takes for food to empty out of your stomach, avoid drinking with meals and for approximately 30 minutes after meals. Also, avoid high calorie drinks because they do not satisfy. Instead, stick to calorie-free beverages and low-fat or fat-free milk between meals.
To make sure you are taking all of your essential supplements like calcium, iron and B-12 each day, be sure to write these down in your diary too. Make them part of your daily routine like making coffee, brushing your teeth, washing your face, etc. After about 2 weeks it will become a habit.