Bariatric Diet; What Do I Eat Now?
Those who have undergone a bariatric procedure such as gastric bypass, sleeve, or band to lose weight now face the important task of structuring a proper post-operative diet. The bad eating and drinking habits that have lead to obesity and subsequently weight loss surgery need to be replaced by a proper, well balanced diet. If you go back to consuming empty carbs, fat, and sugar, it won’t take long before you find yourself gaining weight and ending up back where you started. Along with supplementation and physical fitness, your diet is essential for long term weight loss. In today’s blog we will focus on bariatric dieting advice to help you on your weight loss journey!
For preoperative and postoperative liquid meals immediately before and after surgery, you should listen to your doctor and follow their advice. Today we will be focusing on solid foods that can be started about 6 weeks after surgery. The goal is to set a basis for understanding a balanced diet that can be utilized and maintained for years to come. The trick to a balanced diet is consuming quality, nutritious food that will keep you feeling full and keep the metabolism working. A balanced diet should consist of good fats, complex carbohydrates, and lean proteins.
Good Fats and Bad Fats:
Most of us have been taught that if you avoid fatty foods you will be skinny. It isn’t as simple as that. Some fats are bad for you but there are actually good fats that are essential to a healthy diet.
The bad fats that should be avoided are saturated and trans fatty acids. These are the kinds of fats you find in greasy fast foods, baked goods, fried foods, packaged meals, etc. Consuming foods or drinks that are high in saturated and trans fats will lead to weight gain and can cause heart disease, raise cholesterol levels, increase cancer risk, and more. Sometimes avoiding these fats can be difficult as you will find them in many foods but keep in mind the negative health impacts these can have and do your best to steer clear of them.
On to the good fats, the unsaturated fats. These are your polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids that are highly nutritious and necessary for the body to function properly. These fats are great for the heart, can lower cholesterol, help the body absorb vitamins and minerals, and are a natural antioxidant. These healthy unsaturated fats can be found in fish, avocados, nuts, sunflower and flax seeds, olives, and in various types of oils (olive, vegetable, corn, canola, & soybean). These good fats are essential for a healthy, balanced diet.
You may have heard the term “carbs are the enemy” when attempting to lose weight. Again, it isn’t as simple as that. There is a huge difference between carbohydrate groups and we need this macronutrient as our body’s primary source of energy. Moderate amounts of complex carbohydrates (fiber & starch) are necessary for a healthy diet while simple carbs should be avoided.
Simple carbs come from foods that processed sugar is added. Our body burns through this energy source very quickly causing you to feel hungry again and craving more of them. You consume more, the process repeats itself, and down the rabbit hole we go until we are overweight. Simple carbohydrates can be found in candy, soda (even most juices), baked goods, sugary cereal, syrups, potato chips, white breads, white pastas, white rice, and much more. Since we need carbohydrates as our primary source of energy, it is best to consume complex carbs that will keep you full and satisfied.
Complex carbs are your dietary starches and fibers. They are naturally occurring, keep you full and your metabolism running, and are loaded with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. You will find them in whole, unprocessed food and drink sources. These are your whole fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads and pastas, rolled oats, nuts and seeds, beans, etc. Sticking to complex carbs will keep you energized throughout the day and will keep you from overeating.
Proteins are essential to a healthy diet. Your body uses proteins to rebuild and repair tissues (such as muscles, hair, skin, etc.), stabilizes blood sugar levels, helps with concentration, boosts energy levels, and even assists with weight loss. Some naturally occurring proteins can be high in saturated fats, which as we discussed should be avoided. Fatty proteins can be found in sausage, bacon, burgers, etc. The USDA defines lean proteins as having less than 10 grams of fat per 3.5 ounce portion. Lean protein sources are your white meats (chicken and turkey), fish, certain cuts of lean beef, beans, quinoa, and more. Consuming plenty of lean proteins will keep you full, energized, and looking great!
Focusing on consuming good fats, complex carbs, and lean proteins is your best way to lose weight following bariatric surgery. One of the biggest dietary weight loss myths is counting calories. We will dive into this myth more in future blogs but for now, if you focus on a nice blend of the three energy sources mentioned today you will be on your way to a healthy, weight busting diet. A balanced diet alone won’t get you into a healthy shape after bariatric surgery. Always remember to supplement your diet with quality vitamins and minerals and have a fitness routine. Between dieting, supplementing, and exercising, you will be lean, healthy, and happy in no time!