I’ve tried virtually every diet out there, and lost weight on most of them. But the results were never enough, and I had trouble sticking to them.  I was constantly battling a sugar addiction, and too often gave in to junk food and sweets.

When I made the decision to have bariatric surgery, I knew it meant I’d have to change my eating habits forever.  But it wasn’t until after my surgery that I realized exactly what that meant. It meant I needed to  eat to live instead of living to eat—that I needed to be a lot more mindful of what I was putting in my body—and that I needed to have a plan and stick to it no matter how tough it was.
Here are a few things I’ve learned:

Controlling Your Portions is Not Always Easy

After your surgery, your eye are going to be WAY bigger than your stomach, at least for a while, so it’s important to avoid overeating.

Controlling your portions isn’t something that’s going to come naturally at first. But it’s one of those things that has to become a way of life. Eating too much won’t just make it harder to lose weight and keep it off—eating too much at once will put stress on your digestive system and cause health conditions.

Things I learned along the way:

  • Keep a food intake journal so you can see what you’re eating
  • Cut recipes down before you even cook them
  • Use a scale
  • Use smaller plates, and take smaller portions
  • When eating out, order appetizers or small plates, or ask for a takeout container right away and set aside the portion you’re not eating before you start your meal
  • Slow down and chew more–it will reduce your calorie intake by about 10%
  • Stop eating before you’re full
  • Be mindful of maintaining a balanced diet—this means less of everything

Vitamins are Vitally Important

Eating less means you have to pay more attention to what you’re eating to make sure that you’re getting enough vitamins, minerals, and other essentials.  Even if you’re mindful of maintaining a balanced diet, proper nutrition can still be a challenge.

How vitamins will help you:

  • Help your body heal itself after surgery
  • Prevent malnutrition and maintain a healthy body
  • Keep from losing your hair
  • Protect and fortify your skin and nails

Lots of Protein Makes You Lean and Mean

Your body needs protein to heal after your surgery, so making sure you get enough will speed your recovery. It’s also important for building muscle and achieving your long term weight loss and fitness goals.  It will boost your immune system, prevent side effects like hair loss, reduce loose skin as you lose weight, make you feel full longer, and give you longer lasting energy than sugars or carbohydrates.

Make Sure You Get Enough Protein:

  • Always eat your protein first
  • Keep a protein meal, bar or shake handy if you’re on the go

Your Food Doesn’t have to be Bland or Boring

You’ve got to cut down on the sugar, salt, and fat if you want to lose weight and stay healthy, but that doesn’t mean your food has to lack flavor.  Herbs and spices make great substitutes, and there are tons of great low fat, low calorie recipes out there.

  • Chili peppers, cinnamon, turmeric, saffron, ginger and other spices don’t just taste great, they have added health benefits.

Don’t Forget Your Fluids

There are many reasons to stay hydrated, but here are a few things I’ve learned that have helped me stay healthy and lose weight:

  • Women need 11 cups per day on average, and men need 15
  • A cup or two half an hour before you eat will make you feel fuller so you consume less calories
  • Avoiding liquids for 30 minutes on either side of a meal keeps your food in your digestive tract longer, helping you absorb much-needed nutrients,  and also keeps your stomach acid concentrated, which aids in digestion
  • Green tea is rich in antioxidants and flavonoids, which can increase your metabolism—just don’t add sweeteners
  • Fruit-infused water is a great substitute for boring old water—just make sure you count the extra calories and sugar