How many diets have you tried? If you’re like me, you’ll probably say too many to count. They never provide lasting results because most aren’t sustainable for life. You end up depriving yourself and when things get hard, you give up. So, you eat more, gain more weight, vow to do better and start a new diet. The cycle continually repeats. Bariatric surgery broke this cycle for me, and it can for you too. Because it focuses on lifestyle changes, bariatric surgery works. According to the National Institute of Health, bariatric surgery is the most effective long-term treatment for obesity. Learning a few key tips will help you finally lose the weight for good. Dieting tips for bariatric surgery are the lifestyle changes necessary to find success.
Food Dieting Tips for Bariatric Surgery
The funny thing about most of the dieting tips for bariatric surgery that we’re going to discuss in this post is that I have already written posts regarding most of these subjects. Therefore, if you want more information on any of the dieting tips and tricks, click on the links to my more detailed articles.
When we think of dieting tips of any kind, the first thing that comes to mind is what food should I eat? Well, I’m not here to provide you with any sort of specific diet plans. I’m not qualified to tell you what to eat, as you’ll need to see a nutritionist, registered dietitian or a medical doctor for that information. Rather, I’m here to provide you with some key tips to help you make better food choices and implement the plans provided by a professional.
Meal Prepping and Automation
I have to tell you that meal prepping and meal automation are two of the biggest factors for my success. I meal prep every Sunday, and it automates my breakfast and lunch for the week. Meal prep is the process by which you prepare the foods you are going to eat for the week and plan your menu. Automating your meals means that you eat the foods you meal prepped on auto-pilot. In other words? Meal prep prepares the foods for consumption and automation means you eat the foods you prepped. Let’s face it, we’ve all meal prepped and had great intentions, but then hit the drive-through anyway after a tough day. When you combine meal prep and automation, you avoid those extra unnecessary calories and stay on your plan.
Eat Protein First
One of the basic habits after bariatric surgery that you’ll need to follow is eating protein first. When you are preparing for surgery, it’s best to start making changes beforehand to increase your chances of success. Eating your protein first will make you fuller more quickly, thus reducing the number of calories you consume. As your body eats fewer calories, and you start to add exercise to burn more calories, your body will start to release some of the extra fat it’s added onto you.
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Drink More Water
Does the idea of banishing your favorite sweet drinks forever make you break out in a cold sweat? Trust me, I was in your position too! I used to drink three to four cans of Cherry Coke a day. Plus I’d get a mocha iced coffee with cream and sugar from Dunkin, and all before I left work! When I started my bariatric surgery journey, I cut out soda almost immediately. The health benefits I felt afterward were so tremendous that I never went back. I drink water all day now, except for my morning coffee and occasional afternoon coffee. And now, when I go to Dunkin, I get a sugar-free vanilla iced coffee with skim milk and Equal. It takes care of that craving when I have it. Drinking more water to replace those caloric beverages will help you decrease your caloric consumption.
Notice how I said that I still go to Dunkin occasionally, but I get a sugar-free variety of the iced coffee I used to love? Making substitutions like this one allows me to commit to the bariatric lifestyle because I don’t feel deprived. I eat pretty much whatever I want, just the bariatric-friendly version of it. Making healthy substitutions now before surgery allows your body to adjust to the flavors. Plus, the more healthy foods you eat, the more healthy foods your body craves. With decreased cravings for unhealthy junk, you’re more than likely to stay on plan.
Stopping When Satisfied
There’s just one more food dieting tip for bariatric surgery that I want to discuss. It’s an issue that I have even now after surgery. It’s one of the hardest habits to change in my opinion. It’s simply stopping when you’re satisfied – not stuffed. How often do we eat more than we want to eat because it tastes good or we “deserve” it? It happens so often for me. But, when I slow down, savor my food, it helps me stop when I’m satisfied. One helpful way I have found to stop when satisfied is to pause for a few minutes halfway through my meal to evaluate my hunger. And, as soon as I feel satisfied, I try to remove the food from in front of me. There is no shame in wasting food. Better it goes to the waste bin than your waistline!
Exercise Tips and Tricks
Perhaps one of the most transformative parts of my lifestyle change has been to exercise regularly. Exercise not only helped me deal with emotions instead of using food to medicate the pain, but it also helped my body feel better and burn calories. So how do you ease into exercise, especially when it’s difficult to move due to obesity or other medical issues? You start slow.
One of the best dieting tips and tricks for bariatric surgery that I can give you is walking. Walking will allow you to ease into exercise and develop a routine that you can sustain for life. I started my bariatric lifestyle changes by doing Leslie Sansone DVD workouts. The one I liked was “Fast and Firm: 4 Really Big Miles.” It enabled me to walk slowly at the convenience of my home and didn’t require a monthly membership. I highly recommend starting with walking if you haven’t exercised at all. If you can’t walk, sit in a chair and do the same motions. Either way, get moving somehow.
Pay Attention to Your Body
If you are doing an exercise and it hurts, stop immediately. Go to a doctor and get it checked. You don’t want to do more harm to your body while you’re trying to improve. On the flip side, pay attention to how your body feels after a good workout. Do you feel energized or motivated? Do you feel like you worked hard for the sweat on your brow? Are you so proud of yourself for that? Remember all of these positive feelings associated with exercise and keep them locked in your motivation drawer for the times that you don’t feel like working out.
Dieting Tips for Bariatric Surgery: Stress Management
In order to find success with bariatric surgery, you need to learn to manage your stress. The connection between stress and weight is biological at a basic level. According to a Health.com article, stress increases the hormone cortisol in your body. Cortisol is shown to increase your appetite, junk-food cravings and belly fat. Additionally, it may make your body burn fewer calories. But it also has an effect on our mental health. I know I am a stress eater, particularly crunchy foods. When I’m stressed, I’m more likely to reach for a bag of chips when I’m not even hungry. For all these reasons and more, you need to control your stress to be successful with bariatric surgery.
Better Manage Stress
Learning to better manage your stress is a lifelong process. I think we are continually learning and evolving to find ways to cope with the stress in life. After all, we don’t always have time for a 45-minute bubble bath while listening to a self-care podcast (although how nice would that be?!). Here are some of the ways that I found to better manage my stress, especially when I’m short on time.
Stress Management Tips
- Breathe – Closing my eyes and breathing in through my nose for four seconds and out through my mouth for eight seconds helps to melt away some stress. I repeat for a few minutes and instantly feel calmer
- Listen to podcasts on my way to work – Instead of listening to the radio, I listen to motivating podcasts, like Ruth Soukup’s Do It Scared podcast. (PS. I was on this podcast once! Check it out here!)
- Go for a short walk – Even just a five- or 10-minute walk helps to calm my nerves and manage my stress
- Journal – Simply writing my feelings in a journal helps me process what’s going on and avoid those unnecessary calories from chips
- Worship – As I have grown in my faith, spending time with God through Bible reading and prayer has helped my mental health tremendously and reminds me that I don’t have to have it all figured out
- Meditate – There is something about being still and quiet for 10 to 15 minutes and just breathing that helps my stress fade away. Meditation makes me feel so much better. If I have more time, I occasionally do longer sessions. However, I find so much relief in just a 10-minute meditation session.
I feel like you can’t talk about stress without talking about finances. Finances have always majorly stressed me out but especially once I got married. My ex-husband was financially abusive, and I used to worry about money so much. It’s one of the things that prompted me to change my life and led me down the bariatric surgery path. I am still deeply in debt. But I have found Dave Ramsey within the past year and started following his Baby Steps. I’ve also been reading his books, listening to his podcast and doing my best to follow his teachings. They make sense to me, and I like his Biblical principles for using money to build wealth. No matter what, getting your finances under control is one of the best ways to manage the stress in your life.
You are going to need support on this weight loss surgery journey. I can’t have a list of my best dieting tips for bariatric surgery without talking about the need for support groups. It will help you manage the stress that can sometimes accompany this journey. Whether it’s a bariatric support group at your local hospital or a Facebook support group, find one where you can go for questions, motivation and support. Also, stay motivated by supporting yourself – remembering your goals, rewarding yourself for hitting your weight loss goals and tracking your weight loss. I have a great Weight Loss Coloring Chart Workbook to help you with that! Check it out by clicking here!
Another one of my favorite topics – sleep. Who doesn’t love a good night’s sleep? I’m telling you that if you are eating better, exercising more and managing your stress better, you’re going to sleep better. Lack of sleep also produces more of that stress hormone cortisol. We learned it is detrimental if you’re trying to lose weight. It also helps your body recover from the activities you put it through each day. Getting a good night’s sleep lessens the stress on your body and helps you lose weight.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
At my heaviest, I had obstructive sleep apnea and had to wear a CPAP at night. If you also suffer from OSA, you need to wear your CPAP. When you don’t get the proper rest at night, it puts an extra strain on your heart, which can lead to heart attack and even death. Make sure that you are wearing your CPAP as prescribed by your doctor to get a good night’s sleep.
Sleeping Tips and Tricks
Some other tips and tricks to sleep better are to sleep in a cooler room with blankets. Studies have found that people sleep better this way. Also, make sure the room is dark and quiet. Use a sound machine if you need to sleep. A fan also makes some good white noise if silence is too quiet for you. Establish a bedtime routine to wind down before bed and avoid eating within two hours of bed to prevent digestion from waking you up.
Dieting Tips for Bariatric Surgery
When you break down the dieting tips for bariatric surgery, it’s the essential lifestyle changes necessary to be successful in the long-term. You’ll start meal prepping and eating protein first while adding exercise. Better managing your stress and sleep allows you to deal with life without sabotaging your progress and giving up. These changes will soon become your new normal as you adapt to this new, healthier lifestyle. Follow these tips and you can find success with bariatric surgery too!
If this article gave you some great ideas to incorporate into your life, just imagine what other amazing strategies I have for you! Share this post on social media by clicking one of the sharing buttons, and don’t forget to join my email list! You’ll be the first to get updates, access to my new products and lots of tips, inspiration and motivation to help in your bariatric surgery journey. Just for joining, I’ll send you a free Bariatric Beginner’s Guide to get you started, as well as some other pretty awesome goodies to keep you motivated. Join today!
By following the basic habits of a bariatric lifestyle – eating protein first, eating slowly and stopping at the first sign of satisfaction, exercising more, managing your stress and sleeping better – you can power charge your weight loss!