Regardless of how well-intentioned you are about your weight loss goals, there may be certain habits preventing you from reaching those goals that you might not even realize. It’s important to identify these habits and have the appropriate information to support your decision to change your lifestyle. This can help to prevent being thrown off track for optimal and life-long success after bariatric surgery.
Bariatric surgery is a life-long decision and commitment. It is a tool only given to you by your surgeon. Maintaining the lifestyle of a bariatric patient is up to you, and only you. You will need to be willing and able to follow the long-term plan your surgeon and bariatric clinic have provided and taught you to achieve weight loss success for your lifetime.
Even though some of your natural habits may seem good intentioned or harmless enough, here are eight habits to consider that you may be doing to sabotage your optimal weight loss:
- Not Having a Meal Plan: Keeping to a meal plan will help you stay focused and meet the goals you have set. Not all meal plans work for everyone; i.e. nutritional needs and requirements, food sensitivities, different tastes and budgets, etc. So be sure to work with one that works best for you. If you need to, meet with a nutritionist or dietician to help you.
A meal plan can also help with meal preparation and having a shopping list to keep you from impulse buying or eating out.
- Not Understanding Nutrition: There are so many different types of food out in the world nowadays. Some may claim to be “healthy” or “low” on certain ingredients, but are usually higher in sodium or sugar to make up the difference. Understanding the value of nutrition and the foods that fuel your body is beneficial to ensure a healthy and successful weight loss journey.
- Not Switching Up Your Meals: After bariatric surgery, your meals don’t need to be bland or boring! Repeating the same foods could lead to boredom and you could end up reaching for something savory or sugary to cure that boredom. Add colorful veggies and different spices to your foods. Try different cooking methods to switch up your meals and create fun new recipes!
- Not Getting Enough Sleep: Past studies show that individuals who get less than six hours of sleep at night are more likely to be diagnosed as obese1. Thus, sleep-deprived people tend to choose foods that are high in calories and carbohydrates2. Ensuring a good night’s rest and getting between 7-8+ hours of sleep each night can balance your hunger hormones.
- Not Exercising: Physical exercise can be one of the best things you can do for your body. It is essential and necessary to maintain weight loss and your overall health. The current physical activity guidelines for Americans states that adults need at least 150 minutes each week of moderate-intensity of physical exercise3.
- Not Considering Your Stress Levels: Not only can stress affect your physical health, but it can impact your emotional and psychological health as well. Stress can lead to the release of the cortisol hormone, which stimulates your fat and carbohydrate metabolism, increasing your appetite4. Not taking the time to take care of your physical and mental health can impact your overall health.
- Not Counting Snacking: Even though “true” hunger should be the main motivation for snacking, some people don’t think of snacks as “food,” and don’t take them into account when counting meals. Snacking when appetizing food is nearby happens more often that admitted, even if the individual isn’t even hungry.
- Not Focusing on What You’re Eating: The habit of eating in front of the TV or while playing on your phone can lead to overeating. You might not be noticing when you have had enough food and are full. Not eating enough during the day due to busy daily schedules or work could also lead you to being so hungry right before bed. This could lead to overeating due to extreme hunger. It may be hard to keep track of your daily intake, but it’s important that you are eating throughout the day while expending your energy5. If you find yourself hungry right before bed, try eating a handful of nuts.
It might seem impossible to reset and rewire our brains to change these sabotaging habits, but if you stay consistent and focused, you can start to see your mindset and life start to change, too. It is possible! Your health, inside and out, are the most important things during your lifetime, don’t forget to take care of YOU, too.
- Yili Wu, Long Zhai, Dongfeng Zhang, “Sleep Duration and Obesity Among Adults: A Meta-analysis of Prospective Studies”, Sleep Med, 2014 Dec; 15 (12):1256-62, doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2014.07.018, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25450058/
- Stephanie M Greer, Andrea N Goldstein, Matthew P Walker, “The Impact of Sleep Deprivation on Food Desire in the Human Brain”, Nat Commun, 2013;4:2259, doi: 10.1038/ncomms3259, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23922121/
- S. Department of Health and Human Services; https://health.gov/our-work/nutrition-physical-activity/physical-activity-guidelines/current-guidelines
- William Shaw, PhD; Susan Labott-Smith, PhD, ABPP; Matthew M. Burg, PhD; Camelia Hostinar, PhD; Nicholas Alen, BA; Miranda A.L. van Tilburg, PhD; Gary G. Berntson, Phd; Steven M. Tovian, PhD, ABPP, FAClinP, FAClinHP; and Malina Spirito, PsyD, Med, “Stress effects on the body”, American Psychological Association; 2018 Nov 1, https://www.apa.org/topics/stress/body
- “5 Mistakes That Will Sabotage a Healthy Diet”, April 19,2021; Harvard Health Publishing; https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/5-mistakes-that-will-sabotage-a-healthy-diet