Pitfalls and Roadblocks to Success for Bariatric Patients

Although bariatric surgery is the most effective means for achieving weight loss for morbidly obese patients, there is no “magic bullet” for patients that requires no  work on their part to achieve success.Any life-changing procedure requires a life-long change and commitment to do what is required to succeed. There are two main components to this commitment.  First, following up with your surgeon as required, following his advice and taking advantage of any nutritional counseling or support is important.  The second component is the patient’s adherence to the recommended practices that will insure success and the avoidance of certain practices and “pitfalls” that work against you.  There are two main “pitfalls” or ways to “eat around” the procedures and these are discussed below.

Pitfall #1 – GRAZING.  I recommend that my patients eat four times a day.  My typical successful patient eats breakfast, lunch, a snack and then dinner.  “Picking” and “snacking” throughout the day will allow you to eat much more than you should and each day, week and month adds up to sub-optimal weight loss on each office visit.  I’ve even had patients come to the office and say, “My Lap-Band needs to be tighter!  I can eat a whole plate of food!  It takes me 2-3 hours but I can eat the whole thing!”  With any of these operations I recommend you sit down with REGULAR food and eat and chew well, and when you’re full, stop, and that meal is over.

Pitfall #2 – TOO MANY LIQUID/MUSHY CALORIES.  This is a very common pitfall.  Solid proteins require that patients chew well and take their time or foods can get “stuck” or cause trouble.  Instead of eating a turkey burger patty or a piece of cooked fish or chicken it’s so much easier to just eat a bowl of soup.  Instead of a scrambled egg for breakfast or turkey sausage it’s easier to just eat a yogurt, or have a bowl of cereal.  The Lap-Band patient for example that comes in wanting to be tighter because they can eat too much needs to be questioned as to what their eating.  Same with the sleeve gastrectomy patient who can “eat too much”.  Often these patients will say “Well I have a yogurt or cereal everyday for breakfast, soup for lunch, soup or mashed potatoes or chili for dinner”, you get the point.  When I talk to these patients they say they can sit down and eat a huge bowl of soup but if they eat a burger patty, or piece of cooked fish or chicken they fill up fast with a small amount.  Eating solid proteins first with as many meals a day as you can is the key.

Other important tips to keep you filling up fast and to prevent stretching of your pouch or sleeve include staying away from carbonated beverages, not drinking with meals and waiting an hour after eating before drinking again.  In taking care of nearly 1000 bariatric patients so far I see the trends.  The patients that follow up when they’re supposed to and stick to the above lifestyle and eating changes consistent lose weight, feel better and are happier and healthier!  Good Luck!