In this blog, we will be discussing healthy eating patterns post-bariatric surgery that should be incorporated into your healthy lifestyle. That being said, this is not only for bariatric patients but anyone looking for a new healthier lifestyle.
The bariatric reset was created not to help the bariatric patient who is in a stall, but created to make money off of bariatric protein shakes and other products promoting going back to the liquid phase of the diet. Evidence has shown that a person who consumes a healthy, balanced diet will not need to use a reset. While yes stalls happen, remember in that first 18-24-months post-operative these are normal. After that your nutrition and/or fitness plans need to be re-evaluated.
As a part of a healthy lifestyle, it is important to consider incorporating a healthy eating pattern. Adequate physical activity, proper nutrition, and mind-body awareness are the combination of a balanced wellness regimen.
Shifting our focus to healthy eating patterns
An eating pattern is an individual’s habitual dietary intake and decisions regarding food and beverages over a continuous period of time. The current recommendations for Americans emphasize that eating paters may be a predictive marker for overall health status and disease risk. An individual’s eating pattern may change over life transition periods such as transitioning from adolescent to early adult. Cultural or personal preferences may shift and can be incorporated into an individual’s pattern of eating. As long as the individual is following an overall healthy diet pattern during these transition periods, the health benefits are sustained.
Benefits of a healthy eating pattern
Evidence shows that persons who consume a healthy, balanced diet over a continuous time period are at reduced risk of developing chronic diseases such as: type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and high cholesterol.
An individual’s pattern of eating should focus on including a variety of nutrient-dense foods while limiting empty calories. Nutrient-dense foods are food with a mix of high nutrient content and relatively low calories. Food consisting of multiple vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and lean proteins are considered nutrient-dense. Empty calories offer minimal nutrients but have relatively high calories providing little to no health benefit. Solid fats and added sugars in both food and beverages are primarily responsible for empty calories. Solid Fats are high in saturated or trans fats, which are found in butter (milk fat), beef fat, chicken fat, pork fat (lard, bacon), stick margarine, and shortening. They are also solid at room temperature. The fat in milk is considered solid fat, even though it is suspended in the milk.
How to create a healthy eating pattern:
- Choose vegetables from different subgroups – dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy, and other
- Consume the whole fruit versus fruit juice
- Half or more of grains should come from whole grains
- Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products
- A variety of protein should be consumed including lean meats and poultry, eggs, seafood, nuts, seeds, soy products, and legumes.
- Health fats and oils should be substituted for those containing saturated fat and/or trans fat (see above reference to solid fats).
- Research shows that a healthy eating pattern limits saturated fats and trans fats, added sugars, and sodium.
It’s recommended to consistently follow these guidelines in order to maintain an overall healthy eating pattern. This is especially important for when you change environments such as work, alcohol, or travel. Environment changes can be one of the most challenging obstacles to sustaining a healthy eating pattern due to food availability, time constraints, and other life stresses. This is why we at BariatricA, LLC stress the importance of meal prep.
Special considerations for weight loss:
For those of you that are past the 2-year mark, in order to promote weight loss, a caloric deficit must be created and maintained. This is for anyone who is looking to lose weight not just bariatric patients but is important for those bariatric patients that are 2 years post-op or more to know because you can not rely on your surgery as much. In other words, a person must eat less than their body uses. To safely lose weight, it is important to remember the following:
– Include nutrient-dense foods at each meal or snack opportunity. Try fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, eggs, nuts, seeds, lean protein, low-fat or fat-free dairy products.
– Pre-plan meals and snacks so a healthy option is always available (meal prep).
– Drink plenty of fluids, especially water. Aim for at least 8-10 cups per day.
– Distinguish eating out of boredom versus when you’re truly hungry
– Don’t skip meals. Instead, aim for 5-6 small meals spread throughout the day. (Derreck and I talk about how we do this a lot and also how Derreck has used this to assist in losing COVID regain).
– Be aware of what barriers you have on your weight loss journey. Plan in advance how to overcome these challenges.
Follow these key strategies while creating your “on the go” nutrition plan:
– Always prepare and plan in advance when possible (meal prepping)
– Identify food access at your destination (supermarkets, restaurants)
– Familiarize yourself with your flight itinerary to identify appropriate options
– Bring supplemental food in your school, work, or travel bag (water bottle, fruit)
– Stay hydrated by drinking fluids regularly
– Be aware of food safety standards and practices if you are traveling internationally.
Nutrition needs should be met primarily through whole food sources versus supplements. A sports bar, sports drink, or other supplemental food may be an appropriate option for an athlete or other person at times, but should not replace a meal itself. Whole foods in their most natural, unprocessed form provide the body with the greatest variety of nutrients. When possible, incorporate as many whole foods in your eating pattern to maximize your nutritional benefit.
Hormone’s roll in weight maintenance
Research shows that those who consume an overall healthy eating pattern are likely to maintain stable, healthy body weight. Nutritional deficiencies are less likely present when an individual is consuming a balanced, consistent diet. By optimizing nutritional status, the body is able to maintain homeostasis, or a balanced state. The following hormones play a key role in managing the body’s homeostasis (see the previous article about hormones):
– insulin levels increase rapidly after a meal and help transport glucose (energy) to be used in the cells. The pancreas releases insulin into the bloodstream.
– Leptin is released from the adipose (fat) cells. Leptin promotes the feeling of fullness and likely decreases with low caloric intake.
– Ghrelin is released mainly from the stomach. It is known as the “hunger hormone” and is released when the stomach is empty. Gastric sleeve patients have a lot of this cut out while RNY still has this.
– Gastrin helps initiate the digestion process. It is released from the stomach when food enters.
– Peptide YY (or PYY) is secreted by the intestines and slows stomach motility or the movement of food. It is released in the hours following a meal and may suppress appetite.
– Cholecystokinin (CCK) is secreted by the small intestine. It triggers feelings of fullness in the brain and is released when protein and fat enter the small intestine.
There are several components that make up a healthy lifestyle including adequate physical activity and healthy dietary intake. Incorporating a healthy pattern of eating alongside regular exercise should be something that is sustainable for you from day to day even on the go. These components are often key indicators of success in the long term.