Some Lower Fat and Cal Options I Love

I hear it time and time again from friends, relatives, readers…”I hate that diet crap”.  In my “old” life, I may have agreed, but going under the knife for my weight problems showed me that I’d better revamp my thinking…and not just for me, but for my whole family.  I refuse to make separate meals for myself, and my boys and husband, and have felt that way from the get-go.  Some days is a rush to get dinner on the table when making only one meal!

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So right from the jump, I decided to tweak my old recipes to make the WLS appropriate, and learn some new ones that everyone would enjoy.  One of the main tricks I use to getting recipes to work with my gastric bypass is ingredient subbing.  (More about that here)  I’ve had some good luck with particular brands/types of lower fat/calorie/sugar foods out there in the grocery stores, so I thought I’d give you a list of some of my favorite go-to subs.  These work not just for meals/snacks in me, but also for my two kids! 

  • Cracker Barrel 2% milk extra sharp cheddar
  • Dannon Fit and Light Greek yogurt
  • Sugar free Popsicle
  • Breakstone’s reduced fat sour cream and cottage cheese
  • SpringTree sugar free pancake syrup
  • Philadelphia 1/3 less fat cream cheese block and spread
  • 1% milk
  • Kozy Shack Simply Well (no sugar added) rice pudding
  • Shoprite natural applesauce
  • Progresso light soups
  • Success boil-in-bag brown rice
  • Barilla Plus pastas
  • Edy’s 1/2 fat, 1/3 calories, Slow Churned ice cream (I can’t personally handle ice cream, but I buy this for the kids)
  • Smucker’s Low Sugar strawberry preserves
  • Hershey’s Lite chocolate syrup

Believe it or not, this is just  some of the great subs I’ve found, where my family can still eat what they love, but without the extra fat and calories.  It takes some shopping around for brands that have the best tasting stuff, but it sure is worth the reduced fats and sugars!  One tip I have learned over the years is to stay away from fat free versions, especially with dairy.  It really doesn’t taste good at all, in my humble opinion, and good food is one of the pleasures of life!  Let me know what great light products you’ve found out there!

Why I Still Supplement

I get asked all the time why I still supplement 7 1/2 years after my RNY.  “Can’t you eat enough now to get your protein in?” Yes.  “Haven’t you been eating a normal diet for years?”  Yes.  So why do I still supplement with protein bars and occasional drinks?  It keeps me from slipping back into bad habits of grabbing crap when I’m in a hurry. 

I need to have food that’s easy to grab when I’m in a rush, and food that I can stash easily in my purse, car, etc.  I also like to make sure I pack snacks when we will be out, like at the zoo or the park, where if there is food available to buy, I know it will be junk food.  The fact that I’m further out makes it even more important for me to still supplement.  The temptation to slip into bad habits would just be too great if I didn’t have any good-for-me options easily available. 

Personally, I like to supplement mostly with bars, or powders that mix right into whatever I’m drinking with a spoon, like Nectar does.  I love making protein shakes in the blender, but that’s a meal for me, not something that’s convenient or quick.  Jerky and nuts are other good options to stash at your desk, or keep in your bag for when low blood sugar hits, or you’re tempted by the vending machine or drive-through.  As far as I’m concerned, this was a life long change, and we’re never too far out to keep good choices on hand! 

When Your Partner Isn’t Supportive

*I am NOT a mental health professional and I urge you to seek appropriate counseling for any relationship problems*

For many of us who have weight loss surgery, we have had weight issues most of our lives.  I for one battled with my weight since the age of 12.  So when we hear the words “you’re approved” it’s a mix of feelings; relief, happiness, nervousness, excitement…I’m sure you can fill in many others you felt when you heard the news for yourself. We all imagine our spouse/significant other will be behind us 100% in our decision to change our life for the better and put an end to our obesity struggles. 

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But what happens when you’re partner doesn’t support your decision to go under the knife?  Why would he/she react this way?  More and more I’m hearing of couples having relationship issues either during the approval process or soon after the surgery is done.  There are many reasons that your partner might not support your decision for weight loss surgery.  For many, couples met and fell in love while at their current weight.  Basically who you are (and are trying to change with your WLS) is who your partner fell in love with.  The new you will take some getting used to. 

Some lack of support may be due to worry that you will now be more attractive to other people and leave him/her for someone else.  If your partners is also heavy and unhappy with their weight, good ‘ole fashioned jealousy can be at play that you are able to change for the better and they are not. 

Sometimes, without realizing it, our surgery becomes our sole focus, and that can wear on the other person (and honestly our other friends and family, not just our partners).  It’s a big deal to us, and even if our loved ones are happy for us, and supportive, it doesn’t mean they want to hear about it during ever conversation…that’s when support groups come in handy, so we can talk about it to our hearts content!  

If your partner is truly disrespecting you, insulting you, or hurting you in anyway, do NOT tolerate that!  But if it seems to be simply they are having a rough time with the changes your surgery brought on, try talking honestly about them, and meet him/her halfway, and see if attitudes can shift to make both of you happy again.  One of the biggest changes in your life doesn’t have to mean an end to your relationship! 

 

New Year, Fresh Start

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Some of us are feeling guilty over a few too many holiday treats, not logging in enough hours working out during the hectic weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, or getting off track on eating healthy meals and getting into bad habits like grazing.  I’d be one of those people feeling the guilt of all of the above.  Most of us do get a little out of hand and out of our routines this time of year, which is why it’s great that New Year’s is right around the corner. 

Since my RNY 7 1/2 years ago, I always use new years to start off the year with a clean slate.  I go back to basics of protein first, fruits and veggies second and complex carbs third.  I recommit to making exercise a priority in my family (yup, workouts are a group effort around here!) and any holiday treats that came in over the last month or two go out with the trash. 

Use the New Year to make a commitment to start fresh for you and for your family.  Don’t waste time beating yourself up over any overindulging you might have done.  It’s water under the bridge now.  Focus on cleaning out those cupboards, lacing up those sneakers and getting back on track!  Here’s to a fresh new year and fresh new you! 

WLS bullying?!

I just read on a support forum that some people feel bullied by other WLS’ers about the surgery they chose.  Really??  We are going there with each other??  That’s just sad! 

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What difference does it make which surgery we chose?  We’re all in the same boat!  We all needed help to lose weight and get healthy again.  I can’t believe we’re picking on each other about which tool we picked to get healthy!

In “Which Tool is Right For You?” I talked about the pro’s and con’s of each surgery.  But neither is “better” than another.  We shouldn’t be putting each other down for the choice we made that was right for us.  That’s a very, very personal choice between patient and doctor, and shouldn’t be up for discussion again if it was the “right” or “wrong” decision. 

Let’s support each other on our journey’s and not put each other down!  This is something we should all support each other on.  That’s the reason we join forums and support groups.  Support groups aren’t for everyone, and that’s fine too, but when push comes to shove, we should all be able to give each other a kind word or a gentle kick in the butt if need be, without saying “you chose the wrong tool”. 

Finally flavored Greek yogurt for post-op’s!

You all know I don’t normally do product reviews for specific brands/products, but I had to do one for my newest snack obsession, Dannon Light & Fit Greek Yogurt. 

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I have been eating plain Greek yogurt for years.  I love the thick, creamy texture, and the fact that it packs a mega protein punch.  But the flavored ones were always way high in sugar for a RNY post-op so I wasn’t ever able to get anything but plain.  Then my grocery store started carrying the new (to me anyway) Dannon ones.  It was love at first taste!  It is thick and creamy just like the Greek yogurt I’m used to, and comes in fantastic flavors with only 7g of sugars so now I can indulge! 

My favorites so far are the “blends”, but my hubby likes the non-blends better, so there is something for everyone.  If you’re a yogurt fan, these are worth a try.  At 80 calories, and 12g of protein, they work well as a snack or a meal add on. 

It’s stuck!

Ouch, you’re in the middle of eating dinner and it happens.  That sharp pain just below your sternum, the knowledge that you cannot swallow another bite, even if it’s already in your mouth.  Yup, you’ve got something stuck.  Normally stuck food is a result of eating too fast and/or not chewing enough.  The connection between pouch and small intestine is small, and it’s easy for a food jam to occur.

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So what to do when that happens?  Here’s a few ideas that help me when I get something stuck.

  • Stop eating immediately.  Don’t swallow another bite.
  • Get up from the table and walk.  And walk.  And walk.  Moving can help move whatever is stuck through. 
  • After 15 min or so, try very, very slowly sipping hot tea.  There is a great blend I found in the grocery store called “digestive tea” which has helped me in this situation.  Be cautious though.  If the tea seems to be making it worse, stop drinking and wait another 15 min before trying the tea again.
  • If you are in severe pain (food being stuck is VERY uncomfortable) or you don’t feel better after an hour or two, call your doc.  It’s always better to be safe than sorry!

Slowing down at the dinner table and remembering to chew, chew, chew, can prevent food from getting stuck most of the time, but it’s still an unfortunate occurrence that will happen to all of us once in a while.  Hopefully if it happens to you, these tips can help it dislodge in no time!

Thanksgiving, Bariatric Style!

Thanksgiving, Bariatric Style!.

Staying Mentally Healthy After Bariatric Surgery-By Bariatric Beginnings

I’d like to thank my friend Jessica Dickey from Bariatric Beginnings for guest posting tonight!  She has a fantastic blog at www.bariatricbeginnings.com and you should check her out when you get the chance! 

By Jessica Dickey (www.bariatricbeginnings.com)

After your weight loss surgery it is easy to get caught up in counting calories and protein grams, making sure you get all your vitamins and water in, and taking time to exercise.  Of course those things are important, but we easily forget an area that needs just as special care and attention, our mental health. It’s easy to become depressed or develop transfer addictions after surgery. Many of us gave up our drug of choice, compulsive overeating, when we underwent the knife. Making sure you care for yourself mentally right after surgery and for years to come is extremely important to your health and your success.  Below are tips on how to stay mentally healthy after weight loss surgery.

          Attend an in-person bariatric support group so that you can connect with others who are going through the same major life change. Being able to develop and maintain strong relationships with others will enrich your life. If you don’t have one in your area, the world wide web offers several options for support before, during, and after bariatric surgery.

          Take time to enjoy hobbies, interests, and activities. It is so easy to get caught up in the obsession of your surgery afterwards that you forget about things like reading a book or working a craft. Don’t let your surgery overtake the other areas of your life that you once enjoyed.

          Take care of yourself, eating healthy and exercising just a little each day helps you stay mentally healthy. Physical and mental health go hand in hand!

          Challenge yourself!  Learn a new skill or take on a project at work! Commit to a new fitness goal, revise your favorite recipe to make it bariatric friendly, even create your own recipe! All these things can give you a great sense of accomplishment.

          Get plenty of sleep. Practicing good sleep habits and developing a regular sleep schedule are key to a happier you. Sleep helps the body and mind refresh itself.

          Practice mindfulness; never lose sight of the here and now. Don’t get caught up in the past, it is done and over with and the future is yet to come. Focus on today!

          And lastly, know when to ask for help. Remember to always seek immediate attention when things get really tough and you don’t feel like going on. Believe me it does happen, I’m living proof.

*If you are in crisis, please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or visit http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org*

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Breaking the rules gets us nowhere!

All of us break the rules on occasion.  We overdo it a tad at a birthday party, drink more than we should at a wedding, have too many bites of cake at a going away party….we’ve all had those moments.  Those aren’t the rules I’m talking about.  I’m taking about the fundamental rules of bariatric surgery.  The ones that can be the difference between success and failure.  I know some will think that sounds harsh, but sometimes not saying it is harsher.

We all have one big thing in common:  We were obese enough to need medical intervention to save our lives.  We all went through rigorous tests, boatloads of paperwork, meetings, exams and appointments to get our bariatric surgeries.  Why throw all that away to go back to the bad habits?  If you feel yourself slipping into bad habits, eating all the wrong things, not exercising, it’s time to go see the doctor.  Backsliding is not only going  to gain back weight, it can also be damaging to us physically, and could be a sign of an mental illness such as depression. 

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Stop the cycle ASAP!  If you find yourself in this situation, get to your doc!  It’s scary to see some questions on support sites popping up that really should be addressed by a medical professional.  Support groups are fantastic, don’t get me wrong, but they should be used as just that, support.  Recognizing some of the warning signs and getting them addressed can help avoid any complications:

  • Suddenly regaining a large amount of weight (I’m not talking a couple pounds)
  • Wanting to binge eat
  • Finding yourself skipping meals, or grazing all day on junk
  • Not taking vitamins anymore (you need labs run to see if your deficient in anything)
  • Feeling depressed, bummed out, not interested in things you used to find enjoyable

Going to the surgeon, family doc, NUT, or even the psychologist who did your psyche eval can make a world of difference; it’s what they are there for!  Utilize them, and make this just a bump in the road.  Don’t give up on your goals.  Having a snag in your journey does not have to mean you “failed”! 

Trick or Treat!

Trick or treat!   Are those words that fill you with dread?  Nothing like having the kiddo’s out gathering bags full of delicious candy that a (reformed, sort-of) candy addict like myself would drool over.  So how to avoid temptation and keep your kids off a sugar high?  Here’s a few tips to keep away from the candy bowl and keep your kids from overdoing it too.

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  • Don’t buy candy you like…if it’s not your thing, you’re much less likely to get into the bag.
  • The last goblin to ring my doorbell for the night gets whatever is left.  I don’t want any extra candy hanging around on Halloween night!
  • Buy a small trick or treat bag or small pumpkin bucket at the dollar store; no pillowcases allowed.  When it’s full, it’s time to go in.
  • Help the kids sort as soon as you get home.  I have my kids check out their booty, and divide it into two piles:  What they love and what can go.  The go pile gets packed up right away and taken to the food bank the next day.
  • The stay pile goes into the freezer.  It’s harder for my kids (or worse, me) to gobble down candy if it’s frozen.
  • If you must have a taste of something, choose wisely.  Miniature 3 Musketeers bar,  mini Tootsie Roll, or a fun-sized Twix are a few options under 50 calories.  Just watch, even that smaller amount of sugar will make some people dump!
  • Anything left in my boys’ bags after a couple of weeks goes (quietly and discreetly) into the trash. 

Some parents find me mean not letting the kids go out for hours and keep enough candy to last them through Christmas, but I just feel no one needs all that.  The fun is going out with friends and dressing up.  A few days after, they never even remember that their stash is in the freezer anyway!  If you have a great tip for keeping the little ones and yourself from a candy coma, please leave a reply and let me know about it!  Happy Halloween! 

Pregnancy After Bariatric Surgery

Having a successful pregnancy after gastric bypass is entirely possible; my 3 year old son is living proof of that!  Many women have babies after bypass.  There are some special considerations to keep in mind though.

pregnancy after gastric bypass

First and foremost, wait until you are at least 18-24 months post-op before getting pregnant!  I’m not saying that it’s not possible to have a healthy baby before than, but it’s not recommended.  Your body is trying to heal from your WLS and your weight may not have stabilized before than.  Pregnancy is a big demand on your body, and it’s not worth putting yourself and your baby at risk by rushing it before your body is capable of handling the extra nutritional demands.

Making sure to have your vitamin levels checked is something else to keep in mind.  Pregnant women need prenatal vitamins anyway, but for us, sometimes that’s just not enough, and it’s good to have your levels checked at the beginning of the pregnancy and again half way through.

One situation that comes up for some bariatric women is the worry of weight gain.  Well, you have to gain weight!  It is essential to the growth of the baby.  I struggled with this some, and at every prenatal visit, seeing the scale go up would fill me with momentary panic.  Constantly remind yourself that this is temporary, and necessary, for a healthy pregnancy!

The glucose tolerance test is not tolerated by a bariatric patient (this is the test where you quickly drink something that is basically sugar water and then have blood drawn).  My OB had me use a home glucose monitor for two weeks instead of doing the tolerance test.  This was a good alternative and worked well.

Being able to conceive easier is one of the many benefits to having bariatric surgery.  These are some of the things that helped me have a successful pregnancy after my gastric bypass…above all, relax and enjoy this miracle in your life!

Better Bariatric

Indoor Workout

My preferred method of exercise is walking outside.  Gets me and the kiddo’s some fresh air, and pushing a stroller helps up the calories burned.  I also enjoy kicking around the soccer ball with my family, bike riding, and running around the playground.  Unfortunately, living in Jersey, the weather isn’t always so great for an outside workout, so here’s a list of some of indoor alternatives.  *Average calories burned based on 1/2 hour activity, and 130lb woman.  

  • Just Dance for Wii-190
  • Yoga for beginners-74
  • Belly Dancing-133
  • Hacky Sack-118
  • Jump rope-236
  • Ping Pong-118
  • Wii bowling-86
  • Wii tennis-118
  • Zumba-259
  • Kickboxing-298
  • Cleaning-74 (bonus, the house ends up looking great!)

There are many other inside exercises you can do with weights, an exercise ball, and some other low-cost equipment.  The important thing is to have your body moving, and not skipping a workout because of bad weather!  For a post-workout meal, here’s a recipe for my Peanut Butter Breakfast Bars!

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Peanut Butter Breakfast Bars

2 Cups Old Fashioned Oats

¼ cup Sunflower kernels

6 chopped pitted dates

¼ cup cocktail peanuts

¼ cup wheat germ

3 scoops About Time Vanilla Whey protein powder

1 cup smooth peanut butter

½ cup sugar free pancake syrup

Mix all ingredients in a bowl until they start forming a ball.  Add more syrup a drizzle at a time if it does not seem sticky enough.  Spray bottom and sides of a 9×9 pan, and press mixture evenly into pan using wax paper.  Refrigerate 2 hours.  Cut into 12 equal bars, and store in fridge in an airtight container.

*Approximate nutrition:  259 Calories, 15 g protein, 6 g sugar

Hair loss

Did you know that thinning hair is a VERY common side effect after any WLS?  Some docs don’t bother to tell patients that, then we poor unsuspecting patients start panicking when we see the gobs of hair in the bathtub.  Not to worry; hair loss is normally only between months 3-6 after gastric bypass or other weight loss surgery, and there are some things you can do to help it not be too dramatic.

  • PROTEIN-Yes, getting in enough protein is the number one way to help keep hair loss to a minimum.  I cringe when I hear people saying they don’t supplement.  Right after surgery our pouch is TINY and there is no way possible to get enough protein in it through food alone!  I always aimed for 80-110 g a day, and honestly I did not loose a drastic hair; I’m sure getting enough protein helped with that!
  • VITAMINS-Low iron and B vitamins specifically will cause hair loss.  It’s important to take vitamins every single day for your health, but your hair will thank you also!  I prefer Bari Life vitamins, as they are everything I need in one formula.  Works out to be cheaper in the end than buying everything separately! 
  • ZINC-A deficiency in zinc can contribute to hair loss.  You can have your doc run a blood check for you, or just supplement (can help ward off a cold too-bonus!)
  • FLAXSEED OIL-Some people swear by supplementing with flaxseed oil.  It’s well worth a try!
  • JUST SAY NO-To coloring, straitening, blow drying, etc.  These can make your hair brittle as it is, and can cause further breakage, making thinning more noticeable.
  • RELAX-Even if you do have some thinning, it will eventually stop.  Try getting a new hair cut to make it less noticeable, and try a shampoo for fine hair.  They can be miracle workers at making hair appear thicker!

 

Which WLS For You?

How do you decide which surgery to have?  More and more doctors are leaving it up to patients to decide.  When I had my bypass 7 years ago, I had two choices:  Band or Bypass.  Now the sleeve is also an option, and of course the duodenum switch if you meet certain criteria.  Here are a few pros and cons to the various surgeries using information from WebMD.

Lap Band

Pro’s

  • Less invasive than other WLS
  • Average loss of 47% excess body weight
  • Reduction in weight related health issues

Con’s

  • Repeated trips back to surgeon’s office for fills
  • Possible infections at port site, and potential band slippage
  • Not always as quick weight loss as other options

Gastric Bypass

Pro’s

  • Average weight loss 60% of excess weight
  • Fear of dumping syndrome keeps patient more accountable for healthy eating
  • Permanent weight loss tool

Con’s

  • Higher risk of complications such as malnutrition and digestive issues
  • Nutrition supplements needed for life

Gastric Sleeve

Pro’s

  • Average patient looses more than half their excess weight
  • Less expensive and risky than bypass or DS
  • Since small intestine is not bypassed, risk of vitamin deficiency can be less than that of bypass

Con’s

  • Some sleeve patients do not dump, which can cause a temptation to eat foods that are not very nutritious
  • More invasive than the band

Duodenal Switch

Pro’s

  • Average weight loss is higher than any other WLS procedure, as high as 75% of excess weight
  • One of the best surgeries for improving weight related health problems

Con’s

  • Vitamin and nutritional supplementation is extremely important with this surgery; even several missed days of vitamins can cause a major deficiency
  • It has been suggested (but not proven) that risk of death can be slightly higher for this procedure than it is for others

Remember, no surgery is without some risks.  Having weight loss surgery, and which kind you choose, is a very personal decision.  These are just some of the pros and cons to each.  Thoroughly research your choice of surgery, and discuss with your surgeon to make the right decision for you.  When it comes right down to it, ALL of these are just tools, and how we use it will help us be successful!

Roasted Rosemary Brussel Sprouts

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1 lb petite brussel sprouts

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped fine

2 cloves garlic, minced

salt and pepper

Line baking sheet with foil.  Add all ingredients to baking sheet, and mix gently to coat all sprouts.  Arrange in a single layer, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake on top rack of a preheated 400 degree oven for about 45 min until sprouts are very tender and browned.

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