Health Myths and Bariatric Patients: Are they actually myths

Each of these health items are not 100% true, especially when it comes to being a bariatric patient. I go through each of them with why they would be considered a myth, but how for a bariatric patient they may actually be 100% truthful. 

1. Eating breakfast is crucial to successful weight loss.

New thinking: While it’s true that breakfast plays an important role in your diet, it may not be the magic bullet we once thought when it comes to weight control. A review of breakfast studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found no clear evidence that regularly skipping breakfast also means packing on the pounds. But as a bariatric patient, if you struggle to get in your daily calories per day then skipping breakfast may not be the thing to do. 

Keep in mind: If you’re active there are plenty of good reasons to eat breakfast.

A healthy morning meal supplies the nutrients and energy you need, especially to fuel morning workouts. You just don’t have to sit down to a full-on feast shortly after jumping out of bed. Rather, the idea is to have at least a little food in your stomach before rushing out the door. Eat some of your breakfast at home or in the car, and have the rest later.

Among some good protein-packed portable meals: whole-wheat crackers topped with cottage cheese, blueberries, and hemp seeds. It’s also good to stock the ­kitchen with the basics for dine-and-dash breakfasts, including hard-boiled eggs, spinach frittata, and Greek yogurt.

2. Avoid caffeine before exercise because it’s dehydrating.

New thinking: Past fluid-­balance studies done on people who consume little or no caffeine may have initially created this long-lasting misconception. But more recent research has concluded that all beverages—even caffeinated ones—can contribute to your daily fluid needs. But you need to watch out for those extra added calories from things you add. 

Keep in mind: Caffeine can play an important part in boosting performance, helping you burn more fat, and increasing endurance while reducing perceived exertion, or how hard an exercise feels. That said, too much of this substance can backfire, causing headaches, nausea and stomach cramps, especially if you have not had it for awhile and are just adding it back into your diet plan. 

Try to get the bulk of your fluid from plain water rather than a venti double latte or extra-large iced tea, since those often provide extra calories along with lots of caffeine. And remember that if you are jittery, have trouble sleeping, or simply find yourself at a loss without a cup of coffee close at hand, it may be time to cut back a bit.

3. You need at least eight hours of sleep for good health and energy.

New thinking: Sleep needs differ, and they change with age—there’s no one set formula for everyone. Research has shown that some people need up to nine hours of shut-eye a night, while others seem to function perfectly fine on a mere six or seven.

Keep in mind: It’s not just the quantity of sleep you’re getting—quality is even more crucial.

Studies have shown that waking often during the night, which we call fragmented sleep, can affect how well a person functions during the day.

Waking up often during the night can leave you crabby, forgetful, and worn out. The better rested you are the more productive your workdays and your workouts.

While you can’t necessarily banish a partner whose snoring or bed flopping interrupts your slumber, there are other areas that you can control.

For example, limit your food and fluid intake just before bed to avoid indigestion (and those early-morning trips to the bathroom). And avoid relying on those nightcaps: Although alcohol can help you relax, it can also significantly disrupt the quality of sleep.

4. Eating after 6 p.m. causes weight gain.

New thinking: There’s no science to support the notion that eating after a certain time plays havoc with your waistline. Yes, your metabolism slows down as night approaches, but research published in the journal Obesity shows that night eaters burn the same calories as people who don’t eat after the sun goes down.

Keep in mind: It’s OK to dine after 6 p.m. and even to indulge in that late-night supper with friends. Just remember that calories count whenever they are consumed, and if your eating window is open longer, there’s a higher chance you’re taking in far more than you burn. Consume most of your calories earlier in the day and you’ll avoid busting your daily calorie budget before you go to bed. So when you don’t have to eat later at night keeping a tighter window helps make sure you are not eating an excessive amount of calories. 

Also remember eating at night often triggers overindulgence as a way to cope with stress or boredom. If you need an end-of-the-day snack, budget up to 200 calories for a mini-meal that contains about 20-40 grams of protein plus some complex carbs, such as a green smoothie made with 1 small ripe banana, ½ scoop vanilla protein powder, 8 ounces fat-free milk, and 2 cups raw spinach; or ¾ cup low-fat ricotta cheese mixed with 1 teaspoon honey and 1 cup fresh or frozen berries.

This kind of smart eating will help fuel your muscles while you sleep so you recover faster.

5. Food cholesterol causes heart disease.

New thinking: Cholesterol has a poor reputation that’s not entirely deserved. Research suggests only a weak link for most people between the ­cholesterol in food and artery-clogging blood cholesterol that may lead to heart disease.

Dietary cholesterol has little effect on blood cholesterol. Only about a third of individuals have an increase in blood cholesterol when they consume 600 additional milligrams of dietary cholesterol, and even when total cholesterol increases, so do levels of HDL, which protects against heart disease.

If your eating plan is packed with veggies and whole grains, which offer heart-healthy fiber, vitamins, and minerals, foods like egg yolks probably won’t cause additional harm.

Keep in mind: While the link between food cholesterol and blood cholesterol levels isn’t strong for everyone, it may matter for a small percentage of people. There’s no simple test to tell who is prone to the effects of dietary cholesterol, so if you have a family history, get your blood levels checked on a regular basis to make sure you’re always within healthy limits.

These are just 5 of the common myths that may or may not be true for bariatric patients. It comes down to the fact that nutrition is not a one-size fits all type of thing. This is not only true for bariatric patients though, this is for anyone.

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