It’s 3 weeks into the New Year and what have you been up to? What have you been doing? Have you given thought to what goals you’ve like to set for the year? Any new exercise program or class you’re wanting to try?
With this time of year comes fresh new thinking and often a ton a stress. Friends and family are all around us making changes, some changes small and other changes radical. Some giving up carbs and going keto; others trying to eat cleaner or even fast to lose weight. Where does that leave you? Do you join in? Abandon your meal plan and try for something new?
The long and short: NO. Don’t jump ship. Stick with your doctor and dietitian’s plan for your ultimately long-term success. Why? Simple. Science. Plus, you deserve it!
When we have undergone bariatric surgery we must absolutely be aware of our dietary intake, dietary restrictions and stay on top of our dietary supplements. Why? We’ve had our digestion altered in a way that affects nutrient absorption, and in order to prevent malnutrition (and weight regain) monitoring and paying attention to everything we eat must be integrated in our way of life. Here’s a good overview of what you should be doing every day and why. Be proud of the choices you’ve made. Many people struggle to make positive decisions and choices – you’ve made a great choice, let your entire attitude reflect that.
Keep meals small and portioned. Focus on eating your protein component first, whatever that may be; then focus on vegetables followed by carbohydrate/starches last. Take your time to eat, be mindful and savor each bite. One tactic that people use that’s really helpful is changing the type of utensil they use (i.e. using a fork or spoon that’s smaller than usual utensil). Another tactic is to take 2 – 3 small bites, push your plate aside and wait a few minutes before taking your next bites. Whatever works for you, strategize and be consistent.
Protein Shakes vs Meal Replacements
These are great tools for many dietary needs, however, they need to be used appropriately. Only use a meal replacement product to replace an actual meal. Understand that meal replacements can range in calories from 200 – 400 (or more), and typically have 20% of the RDA of 20 or more vitamins and minerals. Make sure that the calories in whatever meal replacement you use fits within your total allotted daily calories. Use a protein shake as a snack to supplement your diet to ensure you’re getting your daily protein requirements. You can also use a protein shake before a workout for a boost of energy; however, simply using a protein shake as a meal replacement can and will get you into nutritional trouble. Be sure you know what you’re drinking and how it’s intended to be used. If you’re not sure reach out to your dietitian for the best, most up-to-date advice.
Vitamin & Mineral Supplements
Daily vitamin and mineral supplementation becomes a way of life post-surgery. You already know that citrated calcium is what you need to take, as well as a high potency multivitamin, vitamin D, vitamin B12 and Iron (if multivitamin has insufficient quantities). Remember, you had your digestion altered in such a way that affects the absorption of micronutrients (and macronutrients) – you do not want to put your health at risk by forgoing your supplement regime just because friends are on some diet-fad bandwagon. Always remind yourself you made the right choice that will lead you to a lifetime of success.
You have some liberty here to play – all puns intended. Exercise is critical to both weight loss, but instrumental in weight maintenance. You want to aim for a minimum of 30 minutes each day of something aerobic: walking, biking, hiking, dancing or whatever brings you joy and makes you sweat. Also, when you’re ready be sure to add in strength training activities to help build up lean muscle mass, which will help increase your metabolism. Whatever your choice, move your body most days, if not every day. When you feel you are no longer being challenged try to step up your game. If need be, seek advice and counsel from a certified personal trainer.
We know it’s not always easy. We know that losing weight is tough. We also know that losing weight takes conviction. It’s a series of marathon-long races, so pace yourself accordingly. Be sure to always consult your physician or dietitian when you need, and sticking to your plan is not just about the short term; it’s about your long term health and success. You’ve made this choice improve your life, for you to be happier and healthier. Be proud and most of all, love yourself by always putting yourself first.