While past summers may have been difficult, this summer rejoice in the fact that the hot weather, skimpier clothing, barbecues, water parks and family reunions will not get you down. WHY? Because you have made the LIFE-CHANGING ALL ENCOMPASSING DECISION to have bariatric surgery. With that decision comes weight loss, and SO MUCH MORE...
By necessity, post-op patients are very mindful eaters. Mindful eaters are healthier and slower eaters; healthier eaters learn to enjoy the benefits of staying healthy. Staying healthy involves living a healthy lifestyle which includes making mindful and healthy decisions in all aspects of your life. Embracing a healthy lifestyle enables you to make the best possible food choices and find the time and motivation to exercise in any situation because you are worth taking care of. The ultimate payoff for leading a healthy life is more time spent doing fun things and less time spent worrying about weight or health-related issues (like how you will survive the heat, how far you will have to walk to get from point A to point B on your family outing or whether you will fit in a seat on an amusement park ride, in a restaurant or on an airplane.)
This summer, wherever you are on your post-op journey, congratulate yourself for making a really COOL decision and enjoy these 10 Tips for a healthy, safe and refreshing summer:
Bathing your proteins in acid-based marinades (those containing lemon or lime juice, wine, vinegar, or mustard) before grilling allows for some breakdown of the fibrous muscle tissue and a more tender end product (if you don't overcook it!). Citrus containing marinades offer an added nutritional bonus as they allow for better absorption of the iron in your food by your body. Note: Don't marinade fish for too long or it may get very mushy.
With a very small pouch (LB and GB patients) or sleeve (VSG patients ) it can be quite a challenge to get veggies and fruit in your diet regularly. Why not take advantage of summer's bounty of produce (tomatoes, melons, mangos, avocados, onions, scallions, peppers and cilantro, basil, etc.) and make your own salsa. Salsa can help keep protein moist and tolerable when used on meat. fish or poultry. It can also help bump up your dietary intake of vitamins, minerals and fiber and may improve iron absorption if it contains lime or other citrus juice or fruit.
Try substituting high-protein/non-fat plain greek yogurt for higher-fat/low-protein sour cream or mayonnaise in some of your favorite picnic or barbecue recipes like guacamole, dips. cold soups, potato salads and salad dressings.
Why not invest in a snow cone machine or electric ice shaver and some sugar-free syrup this summer? It is a refreshing and fun way to have a sweet treat and boost your hydration at the sametime. It might also save you some money in the long run as ice is cheaper than ice cream! Some popular brands include Waring Pro Snow Cone Maker and Jelly Belly Electric or Manual Ice Shaver.
Try 10 minutes of sun exposure before applying your lotion to stimulate Vitamin D production in your skin. When the 10 minutes are up, apply a reliable sunscreen liberally and reapply often to reduce your risk of skin cancer. Note: If you have a history of skin conditions or skin cancer, please check with your dermatologist before doing this.
If you have never learned to swim, carpe diem! If swimming is not your thing, try water aerobics, wading or walking along the shoreline in ankle deep water to keep you cool. FYI: If you weigh under 170 lbs, swimming burns 5-8 cals/min, 170-219 lbs, 6-10 cals/min and 220+ lbs, 7-12 cals/min (depending on intensity of your stroke.)
Gardening is a beautiful way to commune with nature while easing into a regular exercise routine. This summer please make time to do a little digging, planting or mowing but don't forget to stop and smell the roses. FYI: If you weigh under 170 lbs, light gardening burns 3 cals/min, 170-219, 4 cals/min and 220+ lbs, 4 cals/min.
The good news is, if you are meeting your daily protein goal of 80+ grams, you should be losing fat and sparing your muscle. The bad news is, fat provides us with wonderful insulation and keeps us warm (even when we don't want to be) so as you lose fat you may feel cold more easily, especially in places that have central air-conditioning. To keep the chill out, wear layers or bring a sweater or light jacket to work, school, etc.
Most fat free products contain more sugar and/or salt than their full-fat or low-fat counterparts. On top of that, the calorie/serving difference is often minimal. When possible, opt for low-fat products which will allow for (1) A calorie savings over full fat, (2) Better taste and texture than than fat-free, (3) A more satisfying post-meal feeling than fat-free and most-importantly, (4) Your body's absorption of fat-free soluble vitamins (A,D, E and K)!
If you are confused by the latest information on coconut water and coconut oil don't let it drive you nuts. Coconut water is being promoted as an excellent source of hydration and electrolytes. While it is high in potassium (300-500mgs/cup), at 40 calories/cup, most bariatric patients would do just as well to have water for hydration and propel water, G2 or another lower calorie/lower carb beverage to replace sodium or potassium lost to excessive sweating, diuretic use, etc. After many years of bad press, coconut oil is making a comeback but like olive oil, it seems that the extra virgin type is the only one with possible health benefits. Labels may not accurately describe what you are getting so it may be wise to stick with safer heart healthy fats (olive, peanut, safflower, canola, etc.) until more information is available to us.
NANCY MURPHY, RD-N, CDE