Change can be challenging, but creating a healthy lifestyle does not have to mean taking one drastic leap. Even the smallest steps, such as smarter, healthier eating habits, can make a difference in your health and weight-loss journey. And besides, why not let the new year be the start of the new you?
Having performed more than 23,000 successful surgeries at the Obesity Control Center, which is just minutes south of San Diego, our expert team has learned which nutritional habits have successfully helped our #OCCFamily members, and we have perfected our educational program based on these findings. OCC’s comprehensive medical and nutritional education program is a combination of our patients’ journeys, our own experience as health providers, and information gathered from the application of evidence-based medical and nutrition therapies. We understand the importance of following these recommended dietary guidelines after undergoing bariatric surgery, and our patients will tell you that practicing these healthy eating habits can make it easier to make permanent changes that support your health–after all, it’s not a diet, but truly a lifestyle change.
Nourishing Your Body After Bariatric Surgery
Undergoing weight-loss surgeries such as a gastric procedure will reduce the size of your stomach and will alter the way the food you consume passes through your digestive system. As part of your post-operative care at the OCC, you will be given special dietary guidelines that you will need to follow closely during the first 6 weeks after surgery to prevent complications and for the proper healing of your new stomach pouch. After 6 weeks, when you’re able to eat solid foods, you will be on the bariatric nutritional plan meant to heal your body from the inside out, prevent nutrient deficiencies, and prepare you for massive weight loss. For more information on nutrition after bariatric surgery, visit ncbi.gov.
After surgery, making changes to your eating habits may seem too overwhelming, but over time, most patients claim that these tips eventually become an unconscious addition to daily life. Here are five tips the OCC recommends for healthy eating:
1. Cut Down on Processed Fat and Sugar. Focus on Eating Real, Wholesome Food.
The bariatric guidelines focus on proper nutrition. Step one involves removing ALL types of carbohydrates from your diet. These include fruit, flours (bread, pasta, pastries, grains, etc.), juices, cow’s milk, sugars, honey, and starchy vegetables. Foods that are high in fat and sugar such as pastries or chips tend to travel quickly through the digestive system causing a spike in blood sugar. Your pancreas then releases a hormone called insulin, which tells your cells to absorb blood sugar and make fat tissue. This causes blood sugar levels to drop, leading to hunger.
Instead, focus on consuming high-protein foods before you eat any other foods at every meal. Since you will be eating less food compared to before surgery, you will need to make sure you are getting enough protein. Include good sources of protein with each of your meals (e.g., eggs, poultry, lean meats, fish, and full fat dairy products). After consuming your protein, you may eat non-starchy vegetables such as dark leafy greens to complete your meal.
2. Don’t Drink Your Calories. Drink Mostly Water, Infusions, Tea, and Avoid Chemical Cocktails.
Energy drinks, cow’s milk, alcoholic beverages, fruit juices, and gourmet coffees (e.g., lattes and cappuccinos) are sources of carbohydrates too. Rather than filling your cup with any of these, try natural zero-calorie beverages. Drink plenty of water (at least 8 glasses a day), infusions, herbal teas, and four cups of organic green tea. It is best to avoid artificial sweeteners, flavorings, and colorings which are usually found in “diet” or “sugar-free” beverages.
3. Eat your protein first, then add vegetables, and limit fruit intake.
The bariatric program, created at OCC, just south of San Diego, recommends including dark green leafy vegetables on a daily basis. Vegetables help control hunger, promote satiety, and improve liver functions, which include fat burning. You can have any amount of veggies only after eating protein first. Some examples include spinach, romaine lettuce, celery, kale, chard, and collards.
You will need to limit your fruit intake to no more than two pieces daily, depending on how much protein you have had during the day and if you can meet your personal need for protein intake.
4. Use Healthy Fats and Oils to Enhance the Flavor of Vegetables and Protein
It is important to eat healthy oils and fats in your meals. For dressings, use flaxseed, extra virgin olive oil, hemp, walnut, and grapeseed oils. For sautéing vegetables and proteins, you can use butter or extra virgin olive oil (don’t let it burn and use medium heat). For high-heat cooking, use coconut oil, pasture-raised butter, or ghee (clarified butter). Other valuable fats include avocado and olives.
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5. Eat More Herbs and Spices
Cooking with herbs and spices not only lessens the need to grab that salt shaker because herbs already enhance the flavor of foods, but they may give a nutritional boost to your meals too. Add cinnamon to your protein shakes or a scrumptious breakfast of Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats. You can also sprinkle some tarragon or thyme on fillets of fish or chicken for a tasty lunch or dinner.
OCC’s Bariatric Surgery Post-Op Care
When you choose the Obesity Control Center for your bariatric procedure, you become part of the #OCCFamily for life and will be equipped with all the tools you will need to succeed after surgery. Our Chief Nutritionist Lucia Chavez leads patients through their new, healthy eating lifestyle, so the changes don’t have to feel overwhelming. All OCC patients are guided through five years of post-op care with our comprehensive education program. You will have 24/7 access to our doctors, as well as recipes and real-time weight-loss and nutrition reporting.
Begin Your Health Transformation Today
The new year is a good time to dedicate yourself to a healthier lifestyle. Contact the Obesity Control Center just south of San Diego to learn more about how you can better achieve your weight-loss goals.