Eating What You Want Within Reason
By Michele Lubin, MS, RD, CDN
Think back to the time you were preparing for your weight loss surgery. What were your expectations? You must have heard from your doctor, nurse, dietitian, therapist or other patients that “this is only a tool…..you need to follow the healthy lifestyle guidelines to be successful.” Although patients may hear this, that concept may be interpreted to mean: “I can eat the same foods I was eating before surgery, but in much smaller amounts and still be successful; I can eat what I want within reason and in moderation.”
This type of thinking can definitely get you in trouble! So, what does moderation or “within reason” really mean? These words may be part of a healthy attitude, or may not be; it depends on your definition. Let’s first start with the reality that many patients feel they don’t want to give up some of their favorite foods and may think that the surgery will keep you from over-eating that particular food. Everyone is different and everyone has their own, unique food triggers. Let’s look at a few scenarios:
How about foods that just can’t be eaten in moderation? Your thought may be, “I can eat one or two cookies, instead of the box I ate before surgery.” This sounds within reason, but, if you eat cookies every day, you have continued with the same old habit you had before surgery; nothing has really changed, except for the amount, at first. Then, over time, two cookies can turn into three, then four, then more. Your best bet here is to indulge in cookies occasionally,not daily.
Or, how about foods that are healthy, but calorie-dense. “I can still eat foods like peanut butter, nuts and cheese every day because they have protein.” Sure, these foods have protein, but because they contain a lot of calories in a small portion, they should be used as condiments,not as a protein source. Keep in mind, as you lose weight, your body requires fewer calories to maintain that lower weight. If you continue to eat calorie-dense foods often, even in smaller portions, on a regular basis, you will struggle with your weight.
Know yourself – know your trigger foods that will lead to grazing or over-eating and be aware of the foods that just can’t be eaten in moderation. Keep these foods out of your house or workplace and partake only on the rare occasion. Most of all, be realistic. If you eat a cookie, chip, cupcake, etc., don’t beat yourself up….move on.