*This article is written with the gastric bypass patient in mind. After weight loss surgery, individuals receive new instructions or “rules” when it comes to eating patterns and nutrition.
Each of us have spent a lifetime learning about food, more specifically, how and what to eat and drink. These are not taught intentionally, but more of a “learn by observance” method. Here are just a few of them, which are now behaviors that we as weight loss surgery patients must change:
- A meal consists of 1 meat, 2 or 3 vegetables, bread and dessert
- You should clean your plate
- Drinking with meals is an acceptable practice
- It does not matter at what speed you eat a meal
When I was growing up, mother served meat as our main entree along with two, sometimes three vegetables. It was not out of the ordinary to have two starches during the same meal. Bread stayed on the table just in case someone wanted a sandwich, bread with butter, or to slop up their gravy. Today we know more about nutrition, and this is an unacceptable meal in our home!
My mother was not a terrible caregiver; she did not understand the importance of balanced meals. She also continued in the way which her mother taught her. There were also four children in our family, and we were by no means wealthy. It is my opinion that in order to make up for the luxuries she could not provide to us, she tried to show her love with food. (Even today, she uses food as a means to show how much she loves us). Quite simply, she got by with what she could afford.
Recently, my friend, Scott blogged about the “Clean Your Plate Club” which has been introduced into our school system. I’m certain that a well meaning person(s) created this group as a means of ensuring children receive 3 balanced meals per day. However, it has turned out to be the source of another problem on the homefront of America: Obesity. In my childhood, we believed the Clean Your Plate theory and heard the words, “There are starving children in Ethiopia, now eat all your dinner.” I always wondered why we could not just box it up and send it over to them! As a result of years spent cleaning my plate, I took in too many calories. This also does not allow a child to learn the signals of their body as to when they are full. Instead, their parents’ instructions to “clean the plate” override the feeling of satiety, causing overeating tendencies.
There is a religious saying, “Train up a child… and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Did you know that the years of learned behavior and training are difficult to change? Lessons from childhood remain with us; we must combat those mentalities which are not conducive to our good health, and create new ones. Here are just a few of our new methods:
- Take small bites, and chew well (it allows us to listen to our bodies saying, “I’m full” and also helps our food digest properly and adequately through our newly rerouted pouches)
- Eat smaller portions (use a child’s plate or saucer if necessary so that you are not tempted to overdo your plate. Measure food if you cannot listen to your body signals telling you that it’s full)
- Cut out grazing/snacking unless it is planned for your nutritional day
- Eat only when hungry, planned or necessary for nutrition
- Give yourself permission to throw food in the trash (it’s better to let it go to waste than to cause yourself to become overweight and unhealthy again)
- Don’t drink with meals and allow 30 minutes to pass after your last bite (this allows your food to stay in your pouch, causing satiety. Drinking flushes out your food and causes you to be hungry, and can also cause low blood sugar episodes)
- A meal does NOT have to consist of meat, 3 vegggies, dessert. As a wls patient, it is imperative that you follow the PROTEIN FIRST, moderate carbs second rule. Protein is to be your main focus.
There are times I still remind myself NOT to grab a drink while eating. Just the other evening, we met a couple of friends for dinner. I allow the server to bring a glass of water just to avoid a confrontation or long reason as to why I do not want something to drink. As we were eating and chatting, I inadvertently picked up the glass to take a sip. Even after 2 1/2 yrs, sometimes its easy to fall back into the learned behaviors from the past. It takes a conscious effort to break these habits.
What about you? What learned behaviors or ideals do you find yourself struggling to break?
Until next time,
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