Evolving Taste Buds

cucumber cut


Before I had weight loss surgery in 2008, my diet consisted of everything and anything that wasn’t healthy.  If it was good for me, I didn’t eat it. (You don’t get to 320 lbs by eating salad, my friends!)  If you had asked me then what my favorite meal was, I would have answered without any hesitancy that it was Chinese food with a giant glass of coke.  Now, the memory of that meal and the sheer volume of what I used to eat makes makes my stomach turn.


When I was going through the process of and research for weight loss surgery, I knew that the quantity of food that I would be able to eat would be drastically reduced.  I also knew that there would be foods that would probably make me ill for a while:  foods with sugar and fatty foods.  Every weight loss surgery patient is different and has different intolerances, but we all have the same fear:  “dumping.”  The word itself is nauseating, but for a weight loss surgery patient, it’s a very real and very awful side effect to eating the wrong foods. Here is “Dumping Syndrome” defined by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery:


Dumping syndrome is a common side effect after Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass (RNYGB) surgery. About 85% of gastric bypass patients will experience dumping syndrome at some point after surgery. The symptoms can range from mild to severe.


Dumping usually occurs due to poor food choices. It is related to the ingestion of refined sugars (including high fructose corn syrup) or high glycemic carbohydrates. It can also occur with dairy products, some fats, and fried foods. These foods rapidly empty from the gastric pouch into the small intestine which triggers a cascade of physiologic events.


The effect of dumping is twofold. It is both good and bad. The benefit is that if dumping occurs after eating these foods the patient is less likely to eat that food again. It is a built in mechanism that says, “I shouldn’t have eaten it the first time, and I definitely won’t eat it again.” This is called negative reinforcement. The fact is these foods will interfere with long-term weight loss and should not be eaten anyway.


The bad news is that dumping makes you feel awful; it can be confused with other problems; it is scary and sometimes difficult to manage; and it may have some short-term physiologic consequences.


There are two types of dumping:


Early Dumping

Occurs 30-60 minutes after eating and can last up to 60 minutes. Symptoms include sweating, flushing, light-headedness, tachycardia, palpitations, desire to lie down, upper abdominal fullness, nausea, diarrhea, cramping, and active audible bowels sounds.


Late Dumping

Occurs 1-3 hours after eating. Symptoms are related to reactive hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) which include sweating, shakiness, loss of concentration, hunger, and fainting or passing out.


I will tell you this:  it is EXTREMELY unpleasant.  But the negative reinforcement is exactly what people like me need.  Chinese food quickly became a thing of the past and began being replaced by foods that I never thought I’d be eating.  My taste for food began to change.  I began craving things that were good for me.  It was the one thing I was not prepared for:  craving healthy food.


I began craving salad, vegetables, cheeses, and soups.  It was amazing to me that not only did my body crave these things, but I loved the way that they tasted (and I still do).  The one problem with that is that I had NO idea how to cook any of these things.  My life pre-op revolved around the drive-thru and take-out food.  Suddenly, The Food Network and Cooking Light Magazine became my best friends.  I needed to learn how to cook.  Specifically, I needed to learn how to cook lean meats and vegetables.  Flavor profiles?  I had no idea what that meant.  I was clueless.


Now, seven years and 150 lbs later, I cook every single day and actually prefer to cook over almost everything else.


I’ve won a few cooking contests, and I scour all of my many cooking magazines and books for new recipes.  Because I still have a fairly small eating capacity and my husband is the only other person in the house, I’ve taken to cooking for others as well.  (I often bring food to my co-workers at the school where I teach or else my fridge would be stuffed to capacity!)  And the focus of almost all of my recipes are lean meats and vegetables.  Seven years later, I still can’t wrap my brain around that.


I love that my palette continues to change and that I try to keep an open mind and open taste buds.  It’s been one of the best benefits of my weight loss surgery, and the one thing I never expected to happen.  Bon Appétit!


Taunia is a professional musician and music educator.  She performs regulary with several area big bands and teaches middle school music in the Los Angeles area.  She had RNY Gastric Bypass surgery on 3/25/2008 and has maintained a 150 lbs loss.  She uses Wellesse liquid vitamins and supplements as part of her daily post-bariatric nutritional routine to maintain her new healthy life.  For more information about Taunia, her weight loss, and her music, please visit: www.divataunia.com.

Got Fiber? Digestive and Heart Health Depend on It!



It may seem odd, and counter intuitive, but one of the healthiest things for your body is something you can’t even digest!


Dietary fiber is actually a specific type of carbohydrate found only in plants, but plays a very critical role in keeping our bodies in good functioning order.  Eating high-fiber foods can help decrease constipation, instances of diverticulitis (inflammation of pouches in the digestive tract) and even helps avoid hemorrhoids.  Fiber consumption is also linked directly to your overall heart health and can help reduce cholesterol.


There are two main types of fiber:


SOLUBLE FIBER: Dissolves in water, forms a gel in your digestive tract which slows digestion.


Soluble fiber is found in many foods such as:


  • Beans
  • Oranges, Pears
  • Nuts
  • Flax Seeds
  • Celery, Carrots
  • Psyllium Fiber Supplements
  • Many, many other foods


INSOLUBLE FIBER: Does not dissolve in water, but does provide bulk moving through your digestive tract, therefore speeding up movement of food through your gut.


Insoluble fiber is found in foods like:


  • Whole Wheat
  • Nuts
  • Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
  • Brown Rice
  • Skins of Fruits and Vegetables


As you can see, some foods contain both soluble and insoluble fiber.   A recent study found that eating more total fiber (either type), and specifically more insoluble fiber from fruits and vegetables lowers a person’s risk of developing plaque in their arteries and decreases the risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure and other cardiovascular issues.


You do not need to know which type of fiber is in each food, but instead focus on increasing your total fiber intake and meeting your total fiber needs each day.


Adults under the age of 50 need 25 and 38 grams per day respectively for women and men.  Those over the age of 50 should consume at least 21(women) to 30 (men) grams per day.  Most Americans get only half of the amount of fiber needed daily for good health.


When you increase the amount of fiber in your diet too quickly, you may end up feeling gassy, bloated or crampy.  So, to ease your body into the fiber you need, start slowly and follow these steps:


Focus on Whole Grains – Make the switch from white bread and white flour based products to whole grain bread, 100% whole wheat products, whole grain pasta and brown rice.


Pick Produce – Adults should consume 2.5 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit each day.  Increase your fruit and vegetable intake by 1 cup at a time, per week, until you’re up to where you should be. Beans, peas, squash and even potatoes count (no, not french fries) count as vegetables.  100% fruit juices do not count for your fiber intake, so best to eat the whole fruit instead.


Drink Up – Always drink plenty of fluids – A fiber rich diet requires ample fluids or else the fiber can actually increase constipation rather than decrease it.


Fiber Supplement – Consuming a diet naturally rich in both types of fiber is great, and should be top priority.  However, if you are having a hard time reaching the recommended amount per day, a fiber supplement can be helpful too.  Ask your doctor or registered dietitian if a fiber supplement is right for you before choosing.

The What and The Why of Fiber

Most of us know that fiber is good for our bodies. It helps us “go” (to the bathroom), therefore preventing constipation and can help lower cholesterol. But, fiber can do even more if you choose the right kind – it can help keep you full and promote the growth of friendly bacteria in your gut. Here’s a look at each type of fiber and what it can do for you:


Heart Healthy:

Soluble fiber – slows digestion and can help lower cholesterol.
Sources: oat bran, oats, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, some fruits and vegetables


Prevents Constipation:

Insoluble fiber – helps you “go” (to the bathroom) by creating bulk in your digestive tract.
Sources: wheat bran, vegetables, whole grains.


Helps Keep Your Stomach Full:

All fiber plays a role in helping you feel full. And therefore, if you want to feel more satisfied after eating a meal, add fiber rich foods such as fruit and vegetables. In addition to ramping up your total fiber intake, check out foods that naturally contain the prebiotic (prebiotic means that it promotes the growth of the healthy bacteria that live in your gut) fibers known as inulin. Animal research shows that inulin helps keep hormones that make you hungry at bay while increasing levels of hormones that help you feel full. Onions, Jerusalem artichoke, chicory root, leeks, garlic, oats, barley and rye all contain inulin. In addition, some packaged foods contain inulin or oligofructose (a type of inulin). Just keep in mind that some people get a little gas when they eat foods that contain inulin.


Promotes the Growth of Healthy Bacteria in Your Gut:

The same foods that keep you full will also promote the growth of good bacteria in your gut. This is important because the bacteria in your gut keep your immune system running smoothly, metabolize cancer causing compounds found in the diet, help absorb nutrients from food, make several vitamins including K, biotin and folate and maintaining a healthy gut may help with weight management. So, be sure to get these foods in your diet onions, Jerusalem artichoke, chicory root, leeks, garlic, oats, barley and rye. Plus, keep your eye out for nutrition bars and other foods that contain prebiotics (mainly inulin).



photo credit: jazzijava via photopin cc