Snacking After Weight Loss Surgery
Let’s talk about the “s” word. No, not that one. Snacks! In the early days of eating solid foods after weight loss surgery, snacks will be vital for you to get enough calories and protein. Even a few bites of food will make you “Thanksgiving full!” So, it’s crucial to eat several times a day. You’ll have to remind yourself to eat, even when you don’t feel hungry!
But, as the years go by, our stomachs can accommodate more, and our diets liberalize. That means that snacks won’t be as important (or maybe not needed at all). This can be tricky because if we get accustomed to eating several times a day, we can forget that the calories creep up. Before you know it, your weight loss has stopped. Or maybe the number on the scale has started to climb back up gradually.
So, how should we look at snacking in post-op life? Unfortunately, no one answer works for everyone. You’ll have to take many things into account. Look at your lifestyle. Are you able to eat three satisfying meals a day? Or is it more realistic for you to have five small meals? What is your activity level? Do you live a less active life, or are you training for a half marathon? Look at your food choices. Are your meals already high in carbs and calories? Or do you end up falling short by the end of the day? All these questions will help you decide IF you need to be incorporating snacks and, if so, how much.
So, what should your snacks be? Unfortunately, some of your old favorite snack foods might be a bad idea in your post-op life. Bariatric surgery changes the anatomy of our stomachs. This means that, physically, some foods may disagree with us. Anything heavy in sugars or fats is likely to cause dumping syndrome, especially in bypass patients. Dumping syndrome is caused when food moves too quickly from your stomach into the rest of your digestive system. The symptoms of dumping syndrome can be anything from mild diarrhea and nausea to fatigue and lightheadedness. So, anything sweet or greasy is probably best avoided!
The name of the game here is low carb/high protein. Deli meat, nuts, Greek yogurt, and cheese are all great choices. Occasional protein shakes and bars can be good snacks too. Just make sure the carbs and calories aren’t too plentiful. There is a BIG difference between one brand to another. Do your research!
Lastly, practice mindful eating while snacking. Make sure you aren’t reaching for food out of boredom, stress, or as a reward. Before you grab a snack, ensure you’re hungry, aren’t derailing your goals, and have removed other distractions. As much as possible, whenever you’re eating, ensure that it is the ONLY thing you’re doing so that you can savor and enjoy it. Mindful eating is the BEST defense against grazing. You got this!