Snacking After Bariatric Surgery

As you undoubtedly know from your research about bariatric surgery, the postoperative lifestyle is very different from the eating and exercise habits you had before. And while it may seem like a diet – and it is in the early parts of recovery – the long-term maintenance diet is actually very similar to what we would consider a healthy, normal diet for anyone, bariatric surgery or not. But before we get into the details of how and when to snack, let’s discuss the idea of snacking and how we may have been looking at it all wrong, probably for our entire lives.

When we were kids, we got excited about our snacks – Why? Because we associated snacks with something delicious. Typically, that deliciousness was in the form of some sweet or sugary treat. Now, as kids, we could metabolize that sugar very well – we were growing, active and that sugar got burned off pretty quickly. But as adults, many of us still have the wrong idea about the snack. Ultimately, snacking shouldn’t always be a treat or indulgence but a way to maintain your nutrition and only in selected cases. Snacking for most bariatric patients puts a lot of extra calories in the diet and tends to promote weight gain.

So how do we snack the right way?

You’ll quickly notice that your postoperative diet consists of eating 3 small meals throughout the day versus the three large meals you may now be accustomed to. In truth, each of the meals are closer to a large snack that a traditional meal. As we mentioned above, we are looking to maintain more consistent blood sugar level throughout the day. Not only does that give you more energy, but it also improves your physical and mental well-being, reduces stress and ultimately assisting with weight loss.

Most patients have very little hunger after bariatric surgery. So, most cravings are not really related to hunger…they’re cravings or head hunger. In general, we suggest that you satisfy these cravings by eating your proper meal first then eating the snack food immediately following the meal…at this point, you will be so full that it’s harder to over-indulge.

This plan has helped our patients lose more weight. We’ve found that if a patient snacks routinely between meals and “grazes”, they will eat large volumes of food and regain weight. In addition, we suggest that patients try to minimize snacking…if they develop the habit of eating in between meals, they tend to migrate from the healthy snacks to unhealthy foods given time.   In order to maximize the weight loss, we have to minimize the calorie intake…we suggest that you eat till you’re comfortably full and avoid most eating between meals.

However, we all have times when we want dessert…eat it at the end of your meal. It’ll be ok if you do this occasionally.

You may have also have the incorrect notion the carbs are universally bad. This simply is not the case. To be sure, certain carbs such as refined bread, rice and white sugar – note that most refined carbs are white – are real diet-busters. However whole grains can actually play a significant role in weight loss. Ultimately, the worst offenders in the snacking arena are the processed high calorie, high-fat, high sugar, high sodium foods that are often the easiest to grab on the go. In fact, many of these foods are labeled as snacks but end up having the same caloric value as a full meal.

If you have any questions about your diet, we encourage you to speak to our office and to get the guidance you need. Your success is ultimately our success and we look forward to be able to help you in any way we can!

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