"I liked that the program looked at every aspect of my life. Physical, psychological, lifestyle, etc. Dr. Alley and his staff seemed to really understand me and my needs."
Wendy - Wyalusing, PA
For post-surgical patients, our focus is on building long-term, sustainable, healthy lifestyle habits that maximize your weight loss maintenance and your quality of life. Our weight loss team works with each patient to create an individualized plan, tailored to meet your needs and goals.
The Registered Dieticians (RDs) at the Guthrie Weight Loss Center are dedicated to patient education toward consistent healthy eating habits. Eating after bariatric surgery is not extremely complex or difficult to understand. There are simple, basic principles that, if followed, can lead to long-term success.
Watch your portions
Meals are smaller after weight loss surgery. To give some perspective, a typical “meal” will fit entirely in the palm of your hand. Some foods may be easier than others, but this is a general rule of thumb. We often encourage bariatric patients to begin using small plates or saucers, so that it’s easier to judge what is an appropriate portion. A large plate makes us think we need to fill it up. A small plate helps us have realistic expectations.
Take your time
Meals are slower after weight loss surgery. Patients will typically need to plan at least 30-60 minutes for a meal. When it comes to feeling satisfied or full, a common rule of thumb is, “Your brain lags 20 minutes behind your stomach.” When you’ve eaten enough, it will take nearly 20 minutes for your brain to process that signal from the stomach. If you’ve kept right on eating quickly, though, you may be full to the point of nausea before you know it. Plan to sit down for meals. Make family mealtime a priority, and spend more time talking than eating, giving your body enough time to tell you that “it’s enough.”
Meals must be healthier after weight loss surgery. Your days of fast food, junk food, fried food, and processed high-calorie food are over. From now on, you have to think, eat, and act like a healthy person. It doesn’t have to be more expensive to eat healthy foods, either. A garden is a very inexpensive way to have healthy foods during spring, summer, and fall. And since your meal sizes are much smaller now, you can afford to spend a little more on less food. Great protein sources include lean meats such as baked or grilled chicken, fish, or turkey, as well as eggs and low-fat dairy products. Protein keeps us feeling satisfied longer than simple carbohydrates. Fresh fruits and vegetables are the next important component. Watch out for fruit juice, though – it has lots of concentrated sugar calories without the benefits of fruit such as fiber. Whole grains should take the place of foods made with processed white bread, white flour, and white sugar. Some patients still choose to use meal replacement protein shakes or bars for one meal a day, and that is fine.
Everyone has to exercise to stay healthy and keep weight under control. No exceptions.
After weight loss surgery (and even before surgery), you can choose from a number of different exercise programs including walking, swimming, aerobic classes and dancing. Our team will work with you to define a progressive exercise program that defines realistic expectations, meets your individual goals and is sustainable for you.
Emotional and Behavioral Health
Guthrie recognizes that emotional health and behavior modification are critical components for long-term success with weight loss. People eat for many different reasons. Some individuals eat when bored, stressed, sad or when undergoing emotional challenges. Our psychologist may help you understand why you overeat and what your eating triggers are, which will help to identify strategies that can address those triggers without relying on food.
At least one evaluation visit with a psychologist, psychiatrist, or licensed counselor is required before weight loss surgery at Guthrie. The mental health professional you choose must be familiar with the unique needs of obese patients and the stresses of undergoing weight loss surgery. You may choose to have this evaluation visit, or subsequent follow up visits, with our own psychologist.
Dealing with Change
After weight loss surgery, life is different. In so many ways, life is better – you are more active, nutrition is improved, you are losing weight. What could possibly be better?
With so many positives, it may be difficult to imagine that such changes can be difficult to deal with. Sometimes, you may look in the mirror and still see the “you” from before: obese, fearful, isolated, anxious. Other patients after weight loss surgery may find that the balance at workplace or at home has changed, with others having become jealous or uncomfortable with the new look of the formerly obese individual.
Our staff are here to listen, to sympathize, and to help, whatever your situation. Also, a close friend or family member can sometimes be the most helpful in listening, affirming, and giving you an outlet to openly discuss how things are changing and how you feel. Being prepared for these potential changes is the most important thing.