I can confidently predict that my mail bag requests and pleas for help from those who are faltering or stuck with weight-loss results after surgery, peaks at this time of year, only beaten by the predictable after Christmas scenario. Why? Sometimes it’s the realisation that summer holidays beckon and the vacation wardrobe doesn’t fit; occasionally it’s because the foot has been off the pedal since Easter and now become uncomfortably obvious; and for others the summer months offer more time for reflection and on the scales or in front of the mirror it’s not looking good.
The plea is often the same – what can I do? will it work quickly? is there a short-cut? and have I ruined my WLS?
I write countless blogs and features on this happenstance (scroll through the website) and how the best way is to get back to basics; will it work quickly (no, it’s not a miracle regime but it will work and you’ll see the results steadily and speedily enough); no there aren’t any effective and reliable short cuts (just remember there never were pre-op that worked long-term and there aren’t now); and no again you haven’t in all likelihood ruined your surgery (it’s rare).
Dr Connie Stapleton in her book ‘Eat It Up’ (see here) lists the 10 most reliable and successful things to do for WLS success or what she calls the ‘gotta do ’ems’ and they are listed below. I’m busy reading her latest book (and will review as soon as I have finished) where she discusses these further and comes up with some effective strategies for dealing with food addiction.
10 GOTTA DO ‘EMS FOR WLS SUCCESS
- Make consistently healthy food choices – protein first!
- Maintain portion control – no grazing!
- Exercise daily – no excuses.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day, but not with meals.
- Eat breakfast.
- Plan your meals and follow your plan.
- Keep food and exercise journals.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Utilise a healthy support system (via support group meetings and online communities).
- Participate in individual and group therapy for at least a year.
Following on from this I think there are 6 effective and practical ways that you can bullet-proof your WLS success and even kick-start weight-loss again or turn around that regain. These are my ‘think about doing ’em’ choices’ to give yourself the best start, re-start or maintenance regime regardless of where you find yourself and current stage of WLS journey.
BULLET 1 – CHOOSE GREAT FOOD
Look for food and recipe dishes that are bariatric-friendly – i.e. high in protein; low in fat and low in sugar. All of our recipes in our ‘Return to Slender’ books, on the website and in our free newsletter are (unless we mention that they are treat foods that are not intended for everyday eating). Check them out, eat a variety of foods, eat seasonally, eat as meals (don’t graze) and don’t label anything ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – FOOD IS JUST THAT – FOOD!
‘Return to Slender’ Bariatric Cookery Books (details here); a typical website recipe; free bariatric newsletter
BULLET 2 – PRIORITISE PROTEIN AND PORTION CONTROL
Protein will always be your priority and you should ensure that at least half of your plate is protein-based and that you also eat it first. The easiest way is to use a Bariatric Portion Plate – this will not only ensure that you exercise portion control in terms of amount of food to eat in one meal but also in the right proportions! Follow the 20:20:20 rule when eating your meal and don’t drink whilst doing so.
BULLET 3 – MEASURE & WEIGH
If you’re not using a special plate then make sure that your portions are well within the limits your dietitian and team recommend. This will vary according to the stage you’re at post surgery. Bariatric Measuring Cups will help take away the guesswork or use a set of digital scales for accuracy. Using them with a portion plate is a belt and braces sure-fire (or bullet-proof way) of ensuring you have these spot-on and a reminder to those who have fallen into the trap of ‘portion creep’.
Bariatric Portion, Cook and Serve Cups (details here)
BULLET 4 – CHEW, CHEW, CHEW AND SLOW DOWN IF EATING TOO FAST
Following the 20:20:20 rule isn’t easy and as time passes speed often comes back into the meal time equation. If this is you then remember to put your knife and fork (and spoon) down between mouthfuls and eat without distraction. Alternatively consider using Bariatric Portion Control Cutlery that will slow down the amount you can eat in one fork or spoonful and remind you of the ideal amount to eat and chew in one action.
Bariatric Portion Control Cutlery (details here)
BULLET 5 – PREPARE FOR FOOD AWAY FROM HOME AND EMERGENCIES
Don’t get caught out with what is available at the workplace cafeteria, the vending machine, the fast food outlet or when you’re on the road. Plan ahead by either taking planned food with you; an emergency stock of some staples; or check on-line or ahead what are the best options to have from a menu. Fail to plan, plan to fail is an old adage and so important to overcome if this is a regular part of your work or social life. This doesn’t just apply to food but to drinks too. Consider a special lunch box like a Bariatric Bento Box (with chiller and integral place mat bag); an emergency box of foods that you can keep in your drawer/locker at work or the boot/trunk of your car; and check out ahead some ideal eating places that will serve some bariatric-friendly choices so that you can suggest them as an eating solution. Likewise tap into the support from your own bariatric community or support group for some solutions other wls patients have found work.
BULLET 6 – BE ACCOUNTABLE
The best way to be accountable is to write everything down – what you eat, when and how much; what you drink, when and how much; when you exercise, for how long and what you did; your feelings – what influence did they have, what did you do etc. These are the best strategies you have to pick up a pattern, work out what works and what side-lines or sends you off track. Once identified you can then look for the best ways to utilise the good parts and deal with the down issues. Being accountable also means using the scales to record your weight – not obsessively, once a week is sufficient, but don’t avoid the scales! Recording your weight, setting sensible and SMART GOALS means you’re in control.