Almost five years ago, I had gastric bypass surgery. In the 18 months that followed, I lost nearly 150 pounds. The real challenge, though, came later in the process of maintaining that weight loss. You see, after a few years, I was able to eat larger portions (though not nearly as large as before my gastric bypass surgery) and I am now able to tolerate most foods, at least in small amounts. From talking to other gastric bypass patients, I gather that this is pretty common. It would not be too difficult to put some pounds back on. So how do I keep the weight off?
I measure my portions.
According to my registered dietician, I should be eating about one cup of food at a time, and that amount usually fills me up. I find it easy to eat “just a little bit more,” though, if I don’t measure my portions. I use a measuring cup, measure out my allotted portion, and if I still feel hungry after eating it, I wait 20 minutes to see if the hungry feeling goes away. Often it does, but if I still feel hungry 20 minutes later, I serve myself a little more.
I make healthful choices most of the time.
To make it easy to do that, I keep my kitchen stocked with healthful stuff that tastes really good. I don’t buy “junk food.” If it’s not around, I won’t be tempted to eat it.
I eat about every three hours.
That way I never get too hungry and my blood sugar remains fairly stable. Of course, in order to eat that frequently, I need to keep all meals and snacks pretty low in calories. I typically eat about 100 to 300 calories at a time.
I don’t drink with meals.
Gastric bypass patients are typically advised against drinking with meals because that washes food out of the stomach pouch, allowing them to consume larger amounts of food and causing them to feel hungry again sooner than they otherwise would. I drink up until I begin eating, then wait about half an hour after a meal before I start drinking again. If I get really thirsty while eating, I take a very small sip of water, but most of the time I don’t need to do that as long as my food isn’t real dry.
I do drink a lot between meals.
I’ve heard that people often mistake thirst for hunger and that staying well-hydrated can help decrease the appetite. I drink about a gallon of liquid a day, mostly decaf iced tea or decaf iced coffee.
I participate in a weekly support group for gastric bypass patients.
This helps me stay on track, keeps me motivated, and reminds me of how far I’ve come. My bariatric surgeon told me that her patients that participate regularly in a support group are more likely to keep their weight off long-term and I can see why that would be the case.