Although this past year has been difficult for many, it’s important to stay positive and continue to incorporate healthy lifestyle habits into your daily routine. Proper nutrition plays a key role in weight management and overall health. Here are some nutrition and dietary tips from the Lake Health Bariatric Surgery Center team to keep you encouraged:
Eat adequate protein at each meal.
Protein plays a huge role in our bodies and is the building block of our cells. Some key roles include maintaining muscle mass, building and repairing tissue, regulating hormones and supporting a healthy immune system. Protein also keeps us full longer which can reduce snacking between meals. In order to meet your minimum daily protein needs, you should be consuming at least 20 grams of protein at each meal! Some lean proteins include skinless chicken breasts and turkey cutlets, fish, eggs, low-fat cottage cheese, low-fat Greek yogurt and tofu.
Get your vegetables in.
Vegetables are another essential component of a healthy diet. Non-starchy vegetables are mainly made up of water, which is why they are very low in calories. Eating non-starchy vegetables at meals can help you reach weight loss goals or maintain a healthy weight. Vegetables also contain fiber. Fiber helps slow down digestion which can help you feel full longer. Fiber can contribute to a healthy gut and reduce constipation! Vegetables contain important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants our bodies need to function properly and to support a strong immune system. Try to incorporate a variety of non-starchy vegetables on a daily basis such as zucchini, broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, carrots and bell peppers. Minimize corn, peas and potatoes which are starchy vegetables and higher in calories.
Avoid concentrated sweets.
A diet high in concentrated sweets can easily lead to undesirable weight gain, before or after weight loss surgery! We recommend avoiding all concentrated sweets, as they are empty calories—meaning they provide no nutritional value but still count in your daily calorie total. Foods and drinks high in sugar also cause blood sugar to spike very high and then drop quickly. This makes managing blood sugars hard and can also leave you feeling hungry, tired or craving sugar throughout the day. Note: patients who have had gastric bypass surgery should avoid all sugary drinks and should have no more than 10 grams of sugar per meal in order to avoid dumping syndrome.
Limit fast food, take out and going out to eat.
Unfortunately, most of these foods are highly processed with added sodium and fat. They are often very high in calories and can make losing weight difficult and/or contribute to unwanted weight gain. Limit your consumption of these foods to no more than once a week and follow these tips for better choices at restaurants.
Most adults need a minimum of 50 ounces of fluid per day, however many can benefit drinking beyond that goal! When we don’t get adequate water throughout the day, our bodies are not functioning at their full potential. Some people may need more than 50 ounces of fluid per day, especially when you sweat from working out or being in warm temperatures. Not drinking enough water can actually slow down or inhibit weight loss. This is because water plays a role in the breakdown of fat. Our bodies can also confuse dehydration and hunger. Try to grab an 8 ounce glass of water next time you have the urge to snack.
Read food labels.
Food labels can be misleading. Know what you are eating by always checking the back of a package for the nutrition facts. Pay close attention to the serving size, calories, protein, carbohydrates and sugar per serving. Stay under 10 grams of sugar for each meal.
Track your food.
Keeping track of your food can make you aware of your current dietary habits and help you identify where you are doing well and where you can make improvements. This is especially important for people who are trying to lose weight and are not having success. In order to have an accurate picture of what you are consuming, tracking your foods and calories is a must! You can use free smartphone apps for tracking your food. Or if you prefer, you can simply keep a handwritten food log in a notebook. An important component to tracking is measuring out portions using a food scale or measuring cups/spoons. Keeping a food log can also be beneficial for people who are dealing with GI intolerances, as this can be a way to identify the foods that cause the problematic symptoms.
If you’re considering weight loss surgery, register for Dr. Ben-Meir’s free on-demand webinar that helps answer common questions about weight loss surgery options and who is a candidate.