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The Happy Diet – Bariatric Edition

What could “Happy” and “Diet” have in common? I think you will like this one.
That’s what HAPPY stands for and I am going to start using this as part of my “regular talk”. I want to use positive words to create positive habits.
So what exactly am I trying to say with this HAPPY acronym?
I want you to think about all of the yucky stuff that is hiding there… as in, the processed foods lurking in the dark corners. I have two teens (17 and 19), so there is going to be some junk food in my house in the form of boxed cereals, chips, cookies, etc. 
In a perfect world, I would NOT have these things in my fridge BUT I don’t live in a perfect world. I try my best and the processed foods that I have for my teens are NOT for me. Sure, there will a slip up occasionally but I also have my own “treats” set aside and those are “just for Mom”. 
In a perfect world, I would make my kids eat my treats and not buy them anything that is “bad” for them. They are almost adults and they are going to make their own decisions regarding food. They have had a lifetime of “food education” with me and sometimes they make wickedly good decisions and sometimes they make terrible choices. Just like any human. 
I also believe that our food choices are built up over a lifetime. What I used to love (Kraft Dinner), tastes very different today. My love of Cheerios in the “good old days”, has entirely disappeared. If I eat a bowl of Cheerios today, I feel hungry 10 minutes later. I can tell that this is fake food. It is PROCESSED YUCK. 
Now, getting back on topic… what is “processed yuck”? What are we talking about when we say “refined and processed” foods? A lightly processed food will be any food that has been altered in some way during preparation. Food processing can be as basic as freezing or canning something. I am not concerned about this type of processing. I eat frozen fruit and veg all the time. If I don’t have time to prepare beans, I can always open a can. These are not the foods that I fear.
People in Canada and the US consume almost 50% of their daily calories from ultra-processed foods, according to recent research commissioned by the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
We can also see this as half of the foods we eat each day have been significantly changed from its original state. How has it been changed? There has been salt, sugar, fat, additives, preservatives, flavors, colors, emulsifiers added.
Food has a huge impact on our health and if we are eating things that are ultra-processed, we are doing ourselves harm. Ultra-processed foods come in the form of candy, ice cream, chocolate bars, protein bars, chips, pizza, and baked goods. This is just the obvious “tip of the iceberg”.  
This is what our diet should look like post-bariatric surgery ….. 
Think about vegetables, berries, nuts, seeds, eggs, poultry, meat, fish, seafood, herbs, spices, and full-fat dairy products like Greek yogurt/cottage cheese.
Not everything in a package is “bad for you”. What about low carb bread, tuna, cheese, canned beans? These foods are super convenient and they can help you to build very nutrient-rich meals. These foods are considered “processed” because they contain added ingredients like oil, sugar, and salt.
Now, the category we need to stay away from is the ultra-processed stuff. How can we tell if it’s overly processed? These types of foods are going to go through multiple processes and they contain a lot of added ingredients. Simple examples are sodas, ice cream, boxed breakfast cereals, canned soups, french fries, and chicken nuggets.
How can we stay away from these types of ultra-processed foods? 
We just need to spend more time in our kitchen and cook more. Take control over your kitchen and you will be able to take control over your health. Let’s take a hard look at what goes into our grocery carts and let’s try to fill it with whole, fresh, live, natural, good quality FOOD. 
Buying a TV dinner doesn’t count as real food. We need to buy and cook the meat, clean and mash the sweet potato and scramble our own eggs. “Convenience Foods” are not so convenient years down the road when we are riddled with high blood pressure and even higher triglycerides. 
Living a bariatric lifestyle means becoming a BOSS in your kitchen and taking back control of your food decisions. Let’s move as far as we can from the food manufacturers. Let’s get as close as we can to the real food source. 
Let’s be HAPPY – Happy Adults Purging Processed Foods!!

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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