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Crowding out the Bad with the Good – Bariatric Edition

What a great topic we have this week.  How do you crowd out the bad with the good? What does that even mean?


I often get asked, “how can I improve my food plan”? “How can I eat better”?  “How can I stay safe, and make better decisions”?  “How can I stop eating, rice, potatoes, chips, ice cream”?


My answer is, “crowd out the bad stuff with good stuff”.


What does that even mean?


So, if my client is having a breakfast that consists of cheerios, a sugar-laden yogurt, a glass of juice, and a ½ bagel for breakfast, how can I improve that start to my client’s day?


Where do I begin?  I would start by replacing the sugar-laden yogurt with some plain Greek yogurt, flavored at home.  I’ve crowded out the yogurt and offered a solution to REPLACE the yogurt.  I never took it away right?


Cheerios?  What can we do to replace the cheerios?  I would start with two easy suggestions: 1/ my “no-oatmeal” cereal recipe, which is easy to prepare and quick to make, or 2/ eggs cooked in any style.   I’m not just taking away the cheerios, I am replacing them with whole, live, fresh, natural, good-quality food.


The half bagel and the juice?  Well, I would love to re-invent their diet but why don’t I just take some baby steps and keep those in place for the next two weeks?  In two weeks I will follow up and discuss those two food items and offer new options to replace them with healthier options. Think avocado. Maybe a serving of berries, instead of juice.  Maybe a green juice instead of a fruit juice.


Do you see how I’ve not “demonized” cheerios?  I’ve not said “don’t’ eat that” in horror!!  I didn’t criticize this breakfast or “breakfast-shame” my client.  I’ve just offered some easy swaps to “crowd out the current breakfast” with better options.  That’s how we make real lifestyle changes.


If I lecture my client about the evils of cheerios, I may lose the opportunity to make a real change for the better with their health issues.  Easy does it.  Besides, my recipes taste better than cheerios.  They don’t cost a lot more and my client will feel better and more satisfied with the dietary swaps.


Guess who wins?  My client wins. 


Next up, my client is having a problem eating cookies at 8 pm while watching Netflix.  Do you think she hasn’t thought about “not eating the cookies”?  She has.  She doesn’t need to be told “don’t eat cookies”.  She’s an adult and adulting can be hard.  Cookies happen.


I have an idea.  Let’s improve her current cookies.  She’s eating store-bought ones.  They are full of ingredients like sugar, canola oil, etc.  These are not healthy ingredients.  Instead of smacking the cookie out of her hand, I’m going to offer her a recipe she can make at home with 3 ingredients and 12 minutes. Hello, homemade peanut butter cookies. 


I provide these lessons to my clients, but why can’t we take these lessons and transfer them into our lives today?  What is it that you can improve with your diet/ lifestyle?  What swaps would you like to make?  How can you crowd out your bad habits with better habits?


Healthy Hugs,

Sheri Burke – your bariatric RHN


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About the Author: Sheri Burke is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Bariatric Surgery Coordinator at International Patient Facilitators in Tijuana and Cancun, Mexico. She has worked with bariatric surgery clients for over 10 years and especially enjoys providing nutritional guidance to pre and post bariatric clients.  In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two teens and cooking up a nutritional storm in the kitchen.

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