More than a decade ago when I had my gastric bypass, my bariatric surgeon told me "I do the surgery. The rest is up to you." I was on my own, with no training on what it meant to eat healthy. Everything I know today has been self-taught. Fortunately, unlike when I had my weight loss surgery in 2003, we now have bariatric dieticians like Lori Rosenthal to help us transform our eating habits from unhealthy to healthy. In this sharepost series, we examine the healthy behaviors post bariatric patients need to develop in order to be successful with long term weight loss. Read the first post in this series, "Keep the Weight Off for Life"
Lori Rosenthal, MS, RD, CDN is a bariatric dietitian at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York. She provides individual nutritional counseling for weight management, focusing on dietary and lifestyle modifications needed to promote successful, sustainable weight loss before and after weight loss surgery. Follow Lori on Twitter @LoRoRD.
Develop Good and Break Bad Habity Bariatric Life: What are common bad habits post-Bariatric patients need to break?
Lori Rosenthal: Mindless eating, for example, eating in front of the TV or computer. Eating out of boredom.
My Bariatric Life: What are some good habits post-Bariatric patients can develop to help them maintain long term weight loss?
Lori Rosenthal: Meal planning, meal pacing/chewing and mindful eating are three habits we highly recommend our patients work on before surgery. Learning to separate solids and liquids is also very important.
My Bariatric Life: Please explain what mindful eating is and why it is an important habit to develop.
Lori Rosenthal: Mindful eating means being aware of why, what and how much we are eating. Begin by asking, "Am I really hungry?" It sounds simple, but it is an effective way to avoid emotional eating, eating out of boredom and grazing (snacking throughout the day).
During meals, focus on the meal. Turn off the TV, close your laptop and put down your cell phone. Also, take time to chew your food. Starting from infancy we have been trained to eat quickly. We heard: "When you are finished eating you can go play." "Finish up or we are going to be late." When we take the time to chew we actually get to taste our food and enjoy it. Chewing also forces us to slow down, giving ourselves the chance to recognize when we are full and stop eating. Studies show that when we take the time to chew, taste and savor our food, we naturally eat less and enjoy more.
My Bariatric Life: What is meal pacing? How many times per day should we be eating?
Lori Rosenthal: Meal pacing means the speed at which we eat our meals and when we eat them. Slowing down at meals is an important piece of the weight loss process. Putting our fork down between bites. Putting our sandwich down between bites.** It takes about 20 minutes for our brain and our stomach to catch up to each other.** When we take our time and are mindful, we are able to notice when we begin to get full and stop. After bariatric surgery, patients go from a little full to sickly full very quickly. By slowing down and paying attention, the likelihood of not tolerating meals decreases.
Eating 3 meals per day with protein and 2-3 snack as needed is ideal.