Making The Switch: Eating Right Along Your Weight Loss Surgery Journey

You’ve been lied to. Tricked and cheated by “food,” or what you thought was food. You’ve been told food was food when it wasn’t, or worse, been told to believe healthy, essential nutrients were bad for you.

To change that, let’s debunk a few food myths so you can make the switch to a whole-foods, high-functioning lifestyle to help you along your weight loss surgery journey. One little switch at a time can act as the stepping stones towards your goal weight and energy level.

Now, let’s talk about food. In particular, sugars, fats and complex carbs.

1. Sugar

It’s time to break up with sugar.

When you eat sugar, especially the processed sugar in store-bought candy, it enters your bloodstream very quickly. Think about it as the infamous sugar rush you get as a result. The hormone insulin is released to essentially soak it up. Your body then stores what it can’t use immediately as fat cells. Almost as quick as you felt the sugar rush, sugar leaves your body, leaving you feeling tired and longing for a nap, or worse: fake hungry. That’s right, consuming sugar can actually block the natural functions in your body that tell you when you’re full, which is why it is so easy to binge on sugar because you never actually feel full or feel hungry again shortly after consumption.

Now, here’s the tricky part; sugar is in almost everything. But, there is some friendlier, naturally occurring sugar out there like glucose and fructose that won’t have such a negative impact on you in your pursuit for a healthier life. Glucose is found in starches and carbohydrates and is an important source of energy in cell function and regulating metabolism. Fructose is fruit sugar. It can also be found in honey and syrups. When that inevitable sugar craving comes along, and neglecting your sweet tooth isn’t an option, reach for some fruit.

As we know, avoiding sugar entirely is almost impossible. And sometimes, we can be tricked by a food that is labeled “healthy” but can really be loaded with hidden sugars. That’s why we’ve done the work for you and listed a few simple swaps you can make right now:

Making The Switch
Salad dressings to oils and vinegars
Yogurt with fruit at the bottom to plain yogurt with natural fruit you’ve added yourself and a bit of honey
Flavored oatmeal to plain oatmeal with fruit and nuts you’ve added yourself
Sugary drinks and flavored waters to water you’ve infused with fruits, lemons or cucumbers you’ve added yourself

2. Fats

Fats, fats, fats, glorious fats! We’re talking about those essential fatty acids that keep you not only looking the part with strong hair and healthy skin, but feeling great as well by supporting organ function, especially your brain and liver. Many vitamins our bodies absorb from our food are fat soluble, meaning they can be dissolved and absorbed into our bodies only when paired with healthy fats.

In the 1980s, fat got a bad rap and has been struggling to recover ever since. Almost every “diet” you saw on the market was low-fat this or low-fat that, when in reality, they were just sugary wolves in a “healthy” sheep’s clothing. Essentially, the calories lost from fat in these items were just replaced by sugar. Trans fats are man-made fats created by injecting hydrogen molecules into vegetable oil to create a product that will never spoil. Margarine is an example of a trans fat that is often used in fast foods and processed foods like store bought cookies, chips and cakes. Think of trans fat as the monsters in your closet or the boogie man under your bed.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get back to the fats we love: unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats such as olive oil, avocados and nuts have diverse benefits for our bodies, including muscle protection, helping blood to clot, maintaining healthy cholesterol levels and regulating blood sugar. Omega-3 fatty acids are unsaturated fats that protect against heart disease and promote brain function. These essential fatty acids can be found in fish like salmon and tuna.

There are over 20 different kinds of saturated fats. Not all are bad, but it is important to be mindful of saturated fats and limit them when you can. Saturated fats can be found in things like a juicy burger or lamb chop, and dairy products like milk and cheese. You can still gain some nutrients from these foods, but just keep in mind they should be limited.

Making the Switch
A few more benefits of fats…

• Enhances flavors
• Keeps you fuller longer
• Keeps you energized throughout the day

Below are a few more healthy fats to add to your repertoire. Remember fats are great, and even better in moderation:

• Olive oil
• Grape seed oil
• Canola oil
• Nuts and seeds (walnuts, almonds, pistachios)
• Avocados
• Salmon
• Tuna
• Natural nut and seed butters
• Dark chocolate (cocoa 70% or higher)
• Edamame
• Soy beans
• Eggs
• Chia seeds

3. Complex Carbs

Not all carbs are created equal. They can either present you with a lasting source of fuel your body can use as energy throughout the day, or leave your feeling tired, mentally clouded or even still hungry. To better understand the difference, let’s get into what a whole grain actually is.

A whole grain is a seed from a plant, the whole seed, with nothing added or subtracted. There are three main parts to a seed: the endosperm, the bran and the germ. Most of the nutrients are concentrated in the bran and the germ. The bran is rich in fiber while the germ carries things like iron and B vitamins. The endosperm contains the starches.

Refined grains, like the white flour a lot of the big food company types use in their pastas, cookies and breads to produce mass quantities of product inexpensively, are grains that have sadly been stripped of any and all nutrients. Whole grains and refined grains start their life in the same way, as whole seeds. However, in refined grains, the whole seed is processed in a way that removes the bran and the germ, leaving only the starchy endosperm.

Let’s review: the bran and the germ contain a lot of the nutrients that are essential for many of our body’s major functions like nervous system activity or, proper digestion, and act as a fuel source for our muscles and red blood cells. These essential nutrients are given the boot to create these refined grains. That means that all that is left is the almost nutrient-less endosperm which is also usually bleached white to create what we know as white flour. Some nutrition is injected back into these grains to try and replace its original goodness. Yuck.

Complex carbs, or whole grains, can add a whole new dimension of delicious nutrition to your grocery list and your meals, and can help support a healthy, active and energetic lifestyle. Below are a few examples of foods containing complex carbs to pick up on your next trip to the grocery store:

Making the Switch
• Grapefruit
• Tomatoes
• Apples

• Spinach
• Sweet Potatoes
• Broccoli

• Quinoa (not as difficult to make as you might think, and there are even precooked options out there that can be popped in the microwave for 90 seconds and voila!)
• Brown rice
• Steel-cut oats

• Chickpeas
• Black beans
• Pinto beans

• Brown rice pasta
• Couscous
• Whole wheat pasta

It’s time to take back control of your journey towards your goal of a healthier lifestyle. It’s difficult to get it right every time, and that’s okay! It’s a process. You may burn a few new dishes you’re trying out, or maybe you just plain old don’t like the taste of something. Your weightloss journey is about constantly trying new things to see what works best for you and your body. The most important thing is that you are aware of these whole foods. Then you can begin to make these easy switches from “food” to food. Because food can work with you, not against you!

We will be launching a series of recipe guides including many of these delicious, whole foods in the coming weeks. So be on the lookout!

Have a specific recipe in mind that you would like to know how to make with whole food substitutes? Tell us in the comments, and we will include it in our recipe lineup!

Debunking WLS Myths: Why WLS is NOT the Easy Way Out

We’ve all heard the weight loss platitudes that people use off-handedly and constantly: “Calories in, calories out.” “Eat less, exercise more.” “Motivation is key!”
Those that don’t suffer from obesity don’t always understand how little value these phrases offer or how they further stigmatize weight loss surgery. This knowledge barrier around obesity and weight loss keeps many people from getting the care they need.

“One reason the AMA has labeled obesity as a disease is to ‘reduce the stigma of obesity that stems from the widespread perception that it is simply a result of eating too much or exercising too little,’” writes Matthew Metz, MD, for Obesity Help.

Weight loss surgery carries many similar, harmful stigmas that can only be helped by minimizing the current knowledge gap. In order to move past weight loss surgery misconceptions, we need to educate ourselves and others on its many benefits, and the journey it requires to get back on the road to health.

One misconception is the belief that weight loss surgery is the easy way out. Here’s why that’s entirely untrue:

It’s a journey
Weight loss surgery is not a quick fix or something done carelessly. It takes a lot of work, preparation, and commitment. Before surgery, patients must prep their bodies and minds for the major transformation ahead. A lot of research, planning and adjusting is required to lay a solid foundation to fall back on post-op. After surgery, patients aren’t magically fixed. Each patient will have to undergo many lifestyle changes, including changing their relationship to food, adjusting eating habits and ramping up their exercise routine.

Surgery is a safe option
Not treating obesity in the long-term can be more dangerous than weight loss surgery. “Individuals suffering from morbid obesity are 85% more likely to die over any 5-year period than weight loss surgery patients… Weight loss surgery has a 99.9% survival rate,” according to Bariatric Surgery Source. Weight loss surgery can also help so many medical ailments, obesity related or not, like sleep apnea, heart disease or joint pain.

There is no guarantee
Even with all the right prep and a steady support system in place, doctors can’t guarantee that patients will keep the weight off for the rest of their lives. It is up to the patients to stick to their diet and exercise routines and stay within their new lifestyle changes. Some patients plateau or have setbacks, and it is up to them to stick to their goals and find the motivation. Ultimately, weight loss surgery is not a cure-all but, rather, a great tool used to get back on the road to overall health.

It also helps to have a “navigator,” like Sharon Hillgartner at Texas Health Flower Mound. Find out more about Sharon here.

Considering weight loss surgery? See if you’re a candidate here.

Helpful Tips for Controlling Cravings After Weight Loss Surgery

Sometimes we want what we can’t have. Everyone gets food cravings and it makes it hard to resist eating those delicious foods you know you shouldn’t. But often “good” food isn’t “good for you” food. Following your weight loss surgery, you may experience some of these cravings, so here are some helpful tips to resist them and keep you on track to a healthier life:

Avoid temptations. This means keeping those tempting food out of your reach. If you do not allow the foods you crave into your home, you are less likely to be tempted to eat them. You can also avoid temptations by steering clear of situations where you are likely to eat the foods you crave. This means avoiding the vending machine in your office, staying away from the food court at the mall and taking a different route home to avoid the bakery on the corner of your street. If your cravings are out of sight, they will be out of mind.

Drink some water. Sometimes that feeling you think is hunger or a craving may actually be your body telling you that it is thirsty. Dehydration can occur after weight loss surgery, so whenever you feel a craving coming on, try a glass of water. Post WLS, your body will need lots of liquids to recover. The recommended amount is 64 ounces, which is just 8 cups. This may seem like a lot, but if you plan it out over the course of your day, it is totally manageable. Don’t underestimate the importance of water after WLS. Dehydration is the leading cause of hospital readmission after bariatric surgery, according to Bariatric Eating.

Distract yourself. One of the best ways to resist cravings is to not think about them. The easiest way to do this is to distract yourself. If you keep your hands and your mind preoccupied, it will be easier to ignore your cravings. Reading a book, watching a movie, and doing some chores around the house are great ways to distract yourself from cravings.

Exercise. It can be as simple as taking a walk. This is a great way to keep your body and mind healthy as well as help fight those cravings. Exercise is also essential to your sustained weight loss after WLS. Just starting with 15-minute walks daily once healed from surgery and moving up to 30 minutes a day can help you stay on track to a healthier you.

Substitute the bad cravings for the good. If you get cravings for unhealthy food, try substituting it for a healthy alternative. Healthy protein or fruits and veggies may not be what you are craving, but they will satisfy your hunger and give your body healthy fuel to run on.

Don’t stress! After your weight loss surgery, you will experience not only physical changes but mental changes as well. The operation itself may be stressful, but recovery and life after WLS can cause a great deal of stress as well. This stress may not only affect your mental well-being, but can also increase cravings. Stress can cause our bodies to release a hormone called cortisol, which can make us feel hungrier than we actually are and increase cravings. Instead, substitute stress eating with some healthier habits for stress release. Exercising, meditation, and deep breathing are all things that may help relieve some stress and, in turn, some cravings. Having a plan on how to relieve stress will not only help your cravings but your overall well-being too!

Remind yourself of how far you have come. Weight loss surgery is a journey, and one of the best ways to fight cravings is reminding yourself of how far you have come and where you want to be. Setting goals will help you keep on the right path to your weight loss. Writing these goals down on sticky notes and placing them on places like your fridge and pantry, places you might go digging when the cravings come knocking, are a great idea.

Cravings are normal and sometimes hard to ignore, but the better equipped you are for managing them, the better the likelihood you will resist them. If you do find yourself giving into cravings, don’t beat yourself up! Use it as motivation to get back on track. We wish you a healthy and happy WLS journey!

If you have questions about weight loss surgery learn more and request an appointment here.

Four Post-Duodenal Switch Nutrition Facts You Might Not Know

One of the fastest growing and most effective Weight Loss Surgery procedures is the Duodenal Switch method, which is a complex procedure that combines the restrictive and malabsorptive elements of weight loss surgery (and is a specialty of our Director of Bariatric Surgery, Dr. Folahan Ayoola).

Because this procedure is more complex than other procedures that have been in use for a longer amount of time, there may be less knowledge publicly about the post- Duodenal Switch life. One aspect that separates the DS from other methods in post-surgery nutrition, which doesn’t mirror other WLS procedures.

Here are four post-DS nutrition facts you might not know:

1. Saturated fats are generally allowed: In the DS procedure, the “intestine is re-routed to interfere with the natural digestion process” which makes it a “malabsorptive” form of WLS, meaning “difficulty or inability to properly absorb nutrients from food.” After DS, only approximately 20% of the fats you eat are absorbed, which means you’re encouraged to eat saturated fats, like bacon or high-fat cheeses. However you are discouraged from eating trans fats, like baked goods and fried foods.

2. Hydration is important but challenging: Because your stomach is significantly smaller, drinking water can be difficult. However it is extremely important to remain hydrated in case you become dehydrated. You want to avoid caffeine – like coffee and tea – but you can flavor your water with natural flavorings like lime or lemon. Sugar-free flavoring can work too.

3. Protein is the most important food group: DS patients typically consume a diet of more than 90 grams of protein per day, consisting of foods high in protein for every meal and snack. Protein sources like fish (tuna especially), eggs, nuts and other lean meats are encouraged. However, unlike gastric bypass patients, DS patients can generally consume dense meats as well, like steak, pork and stewed meats.

4. HOW you eat can be just as important as WHAT you eat: When drinking, sip slowly. When eating, you may need to leave drinking until after – usually 30 minutes after finishing your meal – before you start consuming liquid.

Of course, diet and nutrition requirements are very specific to each patient, and your bariatric doctor can guide you to the right one that fits you.

Now you have some of the post-WLS facts about Duodenal Switch. Want to know more about the procedure, and see if it might be a something that works for you? Get in contact with Your WLS Journey Navigator Sharon or request an appointment here.

Bariatric Success Stories – Pertresa Wright

Petresa Wright before and after weight loss surgery photosPetresa Wright before and after weight loss surgery photosPertresa Wright wrote in to tell us about her weight loss journey.

“I’ve been overweight my whole life. Teased in school and even in adulthood. I’ve been on every diet you can think of. I’d lose weight then gain it all back plus more. I’ve tried having the surgery twice before but I only found impersonal surgeons who didn’t really care about their patients in my opinion. So I never felt comfortable enough with them to go through with it. I met Dr. Ayoola and his staff and that first day I was sure I was doing the right thing. His compassion for his patients just overwhelms me every time I see him and hear him talk of his patients and his work. From initial consult to present day his compassion has not wavered. My experience with Flower Mound Hospital was just as good. The staff was amazing and caring and genuinely cared about my situation on every level. Sharon is amazing. She was there when I pre-registered. I had been there all day and had not eaten and she took me and fed me before we did anything else. She was there before I went into surgery and there when I got out and until I left the hospital. Again, such compassion. My experience with every person and facility involved with my surgery makes me all the surer that this was the best decision I could’ve made. I started at 363 lbs. and I now weight 179 lbs. My BMI went from a 55.2 to a 27.2.  I no longer have diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol. I don’t snore anymore either, which my son loves that fact. Lol. I’m more active and definitely more self-confident. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my story.”


World Cancer Day 2017

Cancer is the leading cause of death around the world. Every year, approximately 12.7 million people are diagnosed with cancer and 7.6 million of them will die from the disease.

For World Cancer Day in 2017, individuals and organizations are adopting the “We can. I can” approach to cancer. This means that organizations and individuals will both do their part to reduce the global burden of cancer.

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