So we’ve made it to the end of 2017 and now, after the usual surfeit of Christmas eating, all thoughts seem to turn to diets. You can’t open a newspaper, read a magazine, watch ‘the box’ or surf the web without being bombarded with the latest ‘amazing diet’ as recommended by so and so.
Diets proliferate and we’re about to embark on the diet and WLS season. So it’ll be how to exercise yourself slim, how your star sign can help you lose weight, how to drop a dress size in 5 days, and how WLS is the simple and easy answer if you want to cut out the effort! The plot thickens and many of us seek to unravel the mystery of weight loss …
I’m old enough to have tried just about everything on offer and prior to my bypass surgery gorged on the possibilities they all promised. But, surgery aside for a moment, we still keep getting fatter – and fatter. Indeed this year Public Health England revealed that 77% men and 63% women in middle age are either overweight or obese. From this we can conclude that ‘diets don’t work’ – never have to any encouraging degree and never will.
Dieting is not beyond our volition. Except that it is. Everyone knows what they should or shouldn’t eat. Yet only about 3% of people who diet will lose weight AND KEEP IT OFF.
WLS offers that re-set button to get things right again and I am truly grateful for my own some 8 years ago but I am only too fully aware that the work continues and that it never stops. The surgery is the tool and I have to handle it. So forgive me if I look at these amazing new diets and roll my eyes – been there, done that, and it doesn’t work …
And so onto my own blog headline … what’s that all about? Well I’ve been asked countless times this week mainly on forums but also in private messages what new regime I can suggest for 2018 to either lose weight, beat a weight-loss stall or tackle a weight regain? Within each query and message comes the hope that there is something new or amazing on offer or a new ground-breaking regime that will work better than the basic one given out by bariatric teams.
So patients will be tempted with cutting out whole food groups (especially carbs and sometimes drastically reducing fats); look at detoxes or juice-fixes either home-made or on offer from those who peddle expensive and ready-made concoctions; challenge themselves to 3 or 5-day ‘pouch re-sets’ that don’t have any professional validity (although there’s much anecdotal evidence spouted to be persuasive and may well help to turn a corner); or a celebrity fix-diet that has no consideration for the WLS patient’s needs and requirements. Most will give the patient some loss if followed and then predictably a stall (where you believe it’s you and your body that is at fault rather than the diet), and finally a regain and then it’s back to the starting blocks. With it comes sadness, despair and self-loathing – I know, I’ve been there!
And so my answer is to short-cut this baloney … I recommend that you to go back to the basics (you had probably already guessed that!) THAT’S MY AMAZING BACK ON TRACK BASICS 2018 REGIME – a diet mystery and it’s solution revealed, but not a crazy new one! One instead that is endorsed and recommended by most bariatric professionals BECAUSE IT WORKS! DON’T IGNORE WHAT YOUR TEAM HAS PRESCRIBED NOR MAKE UP YOUR OWN VERSION OF IT.
And since you may well need to know what this entails, what I believe are the core basic facts and what professionals encourage you to follow – here’s the nuts and bolts with no bull! Follow it now and in just a short period of time you will reap the results. Seriously, WLS folks, re-read your paperwork or check out the details and follow it … as I’ve said once and will repeat again … it works!
Of course what really matters is getting started and I would suggest you don’t hurry without being properly prepared but don’t procrastinate or put off too. Most of the time we’re seeking progress not perfection and getting started is the first step to success.
- Eat a 3 meals a day with a couple of optional small snacks that are high in protein, low in fat and low in sugar. By that I mean under 3-5% fats and the same under 3-5% sugar – the only exclusions being those foods with a high proportion of good fats e.g. avocados. Focus on solid protein that will give you satiety rather than a soft choice that means you can eat more. So we’re talking about cooked chicken, fish, meat, beans, low-fat cheese and eggs for example. Other soft protein foods like yogurt, protein shakes and cottage cheese, whilst being good sources, should only feature once in a while since their texture is very soft and won’t give you great restriction – so you’ll get hungrier sooner.
- Ideally make your meal a minimum of 50% protein, 25% vegetables/salad and 25% starches/carbs and eat in that order. Protein should always be eaten first and is your priority.
- Use a bariatric portion plate (details here) to ensure your portion size is correct or a small side plate. Measure and weigh your food for portion control.
- Do not drink 30 minutes before, 30 minutes after and during your meal (see the reasons why here). Hydrate well between meals so that you don’t experience what you think is hunger but mistaken for thirst.
- Do not demonise any food or food group – carbs are not bad – simply ensure you choose complex ones rather than those of a simple junk-food or heavily processed with a starchy make-up. Likewise good fats also have a vital part to play in a healthy post-surgery diet.
- Eat a wide range of foods to ensure that you don’t become bored with your regime and nature will ensure that it has the virtues of healthy nutrients, variety and low-cost if eaten seasonally.
- Follow the 20:20:20 rule regarding eating over a 20 minute period of time etc (see here). If you have a tendency to eat too fast or take too large a mouthful then consider using a portion controlled cutlery set (details here).
- Take your multi-vitamins, calcium and any other prescribed supplements daily and religiously – no opting out of this one it’s vital for good on-going health.
- Not all foods will suit and you may have a low tolerability to some – but keep trying them and cooked in different ways. Don’t fall into the trap of grazing on ‘slider foods’ (see here) that are easy to eat but offer little nutritional value to your diet and will hamper your loss and may lead to regain.
- Incorporate some exercise into your daily activity as soon as you are able to do so. Again look for something you enjoy and will do – no point joining a gym if you won’t go nor taking up swimming if you don’t like to get your hair wet. The simplest, walking, is a good one since it requires little specialist equipment. There are however classes and workouts for all levels of ability and disability.
- Surgery will fix the ‘pouch’ but it doesn’t fix the head and many patients still have problems after WLS with emotional eating. This is by no means rare and there is help around – do seek it!
- Likewise some patients do experience problems with addiction transfer and help should always be sought if this starts to become a problem in your post-surgery life.
- No doubt some will be worrying that they have stretched their pouch, fouled up their surgery and query revision. It’s rare for this to happen and for most if you’re still alive and kicking then you can face your regain, own it and move on again with this back to basics set up and makeover again. I know countless patients who have lost their regain by sensibly following the regime they were initially given and getting back in the saddle with these basics and losing well again – even years after surgery. Revision patients will still have to go back to these basics again and re-learn what is successful and what is not.
- Seriously consider joining a support group – one perhaps with your hospital or if you haven’t got one then a responsible on-line community that has a great admin team to oversee postings and advice.
- Keep experimenting with food, check out advice and make your post-op life better than your pre-op one. Check our weekly postings of recipes, advice, research and other coping mechanism features and subscribe for our free newsletter on the home page (top right hand corner) for seasonal help.
- Eat mindfully by sitting at a table using a knife and fork or spoon rather than on the hoof and watching TV. Savour each and every mouthful and chew well, then chew some more…
- Plan your meals and shop when you’re not hungry or likely to be tempted with poor choice foods. Also plan your meals as much as you can away from home with care. Check our restaurant menus, workplace cafeteria options ahead when you can, or take along a packed lunchbox meal in something like our Bariatric Bento Box (details here).
- Plan and record your food intake (as well as exercise too). A journal will help with this and is good for monitoring when things go right as well as wrong.
- This is a regime for life so make your food work for you – look for bariatric-friendly versions of your favourite meals – we have so many in the archives on this website and if it isn’t there then let us know and we’ll come up with something that might well suit. Likewise check back on past issues of the newsletter for seasonal inspiration or special topics such as ‘eating for 1’, Christmas favourites, special no-added sugar bakes, and ‘Easter specialities’.
In the next few blogs I will cover:
7 Strategies to Get Back on Track (When You’ve Slipped Up)
How You Can Say No, Resist Temptation And Stick With These Rules
How You Can Break A Bad Habit