Don’t Diet – Bariatric Edition

I know, I know, I know, “lifestyle” is the buzz-word of 2019.  We all hear it everywhere we go. We all know what we should do.  We know that we should be adapting to a healthier overall “lifestyle” post-bariatric surgery.
 
Sometimes when a word or phrase is “over-used”, it stops doing what it is supposed to do.  It is supposed to impact us in a way where we crave change.  I think that the “lifestyle” trend is so perfect but we hear it so often, that it sometimes goes in one ear and out the other.
 
We already know that “diet’s don’t work”.  We have been on hundreds of diets and if they work so well, then why did we need to have bariatric surgery? Then why are we continuing to start a diet every Monday morning?
 
Why is it that some of us think that we can continue with our same lifestyle choices post-surgery without making any changes?  This is a sure-fire way to have a  regain and it needs to be discussed in detail before having surgery but if you didn’t make the right lifestyle changes post-surgery not all is lost!
 
We can start making those important changes today. We can start to implement change in our lives.  
 
When I think of lifestyle changes, I think of them from a holistic point of view.  It’s not only about the food we eat.  It’s also about the water we drink, our sleeping patterns, our exercise choices, our stress levels.  We are so much more than only food.  
 
Let’s look at sleep and how it impacts our food choices.  If I have a crappy sleep and I toss and turn and turn all night, I know that I will be craving those carbs the next day.  I will reach for more caffeine and I will try to pick myself up with food. I will also have less control over that box of donuts that Susan brought into the office.  Know what I mean? 
 
What about stress?  If I am feeling stressed out and my anxiety levels are high, the first place I will look for comfort is through food.  I can be stressed and eat an entire bag of chips without even realizing what I have done until the bag is empty.  Can you say “stress eater”? 
 
If I plop down in front of the TV in the evening, I know that I will have a very hard time controlling my munchies.  For me, TV and snacks go “hand-in-hand”.  I can eat a whole day worth of calories with one big Netflix session.  Multiply that for 4 or 5 nights a week and what you have is a weight gain.
 
If I am hungry and I choose something higher in the “carb-department”, I will find myself more hungry an hour later.  One food decision leads to the next one for me.  If I choose to eat like crap in the morning, I will then set myself up to eat like crap all day long.  I need to have the first food decision to be a good food decision or my food day is ruined before it has even begun.
 
If I eat like crap in the evening, the next day I will wake up starving hungry. I use Intermittent Fasting as a tool for health purposes and it makes it very difficult to pursue IF when you are hungry.  My bad evening food decisions set me up for a very uncomfortable morning.
 
Those are some of my bad habits and as you can see, it is the lifestyle choice that leads to eating.  It’s not only about eating.  Does that make sense? 
 
Now let’s backtrack.  If I have a good night sleep, I have more control over the food decisions that I make throughout the day.  For me, sleeping is a lifestyle choice.  I can watch TV until late OR I can decide to limit screen time and go to bed at 10 pm.  Know what I mean? 
 
I can and I should better control my stress levels. If I am not feeling so stressed, I will not be stress eating a big bag of chips without even realizing what I have done.  I can use breathing techniques, or download an app onto my phone or call my sister and talk about it or read some self-help books to learn to better control my stress.  I decide to remain stressed and so stress-eating will occur. Right?
 
What about my Netflix addiction?  If I know that I will be eating all the food while watching my latest and greatest series, then shouldn’t I make better choices and prepare my healthy snacks in advance?  Or better yet, maybe I should go for a walk and take a yoga class?  Or maybe I could find a hobby that doesn’t include 4 hours of Netflix indulgence?
 
Can you see where I am going with this?  The lifestyle choices that I make greatly influence the foods that I eat.  It’s not only about the food.  It’s about why I am eating the food and when I am eating the food.
 
I think we all need to first be aware of this phenomena before we can make the shifts to a life which looks different. I know that I need to make some changes in my lifestyle to support the way that I want my life to look and the way that I want to feed myself.  
 
Tell me about your lifestyle choices and what you can improve upon. I told you mine 🙂  Let’s start a discussion that may lead to positive changes.  Or tell me about the positive changes that you have implemented.  I want to know.

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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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