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Week 3

Eat Right




It’s not that I can’t eat that. I’m making a healthier choice not to. 


You knew we’d get around to the healthy eating part sooner or later, right? You’re just not going to be able to meet your goals if you don’t eat right. Before we get started though, I’d like to make sure you have the right focus. You see, many of us need to shift our thinking about food. If we grew up on a diet of not-so-healthy food, we may initially miss a meal consisting of a big fat cheeseburger, fries and chocolate shake. Our brains have learned to get pleasure from all of that fat and sugar. Nobody wants to give up pleasure. When you use the thinking part of your brain though, you can see what that type of a meal is doing to you. Picture the white fat blobs floating in your blood, clogging up your arteries before they find a home by enlarging your belly fat cells. The added sugar from the milkshake floods your bloodstream causing all sorts of malfunctions. It possible to learn to feel like eating not-so-healthy foods, but use the thinking part of your brain to decide that it isn’t worth the damage it causes.


The more you distance yourself from these foods, the less desirable they will become. That’s what happens right after weight loss surgery. Your focus is great and you stick right to the guidelines. Even if you do choose to eat these foods, the portions are small and the damage limited. As time goes on, you may become a little complacent—a small slice of cake or a few handfuls of pretzels between meals won’t hurt. That’s how it starts for some; a little of this and a little of that and pretty soon your feeling brain is hooked again—loving that pleasure.


Limiting Added Sugars
Our bodies need glucose, a form of sugar, for life. We keep a constant level of glucose in our bloodstream so that every cell has access to it. But we don’t need to consume sugar, especially added sugar (sugar not naturally occurring, but added to a food to make it taste sweeter) in our diets to maintain a healthy amount of glucose in our bloodstreams. We have mechanisms that allow us to produce glucose from the simple (sugars) and complex carbohydrate, protein and fat in our diet.


Too much added sugar in our diets day-after-day, year-after-year isn’t healthy and leads to a slew of chronic health issues. 

  • Cavities.  Eating sweets causes the germs in your mouth to create acid. It is this acid that eats holes in your teeth, forming cavities. Frequent consumption of sweets throughout the day, especially those that are sticky or acidic (like soft drinks), bathe your teeth in acid and accelerate the formation of cavities. 

  • Raging Hunger.  A chronic intake of the sugar fructose can lead to leptin resistance. Leptin is the hormone that tells your body, “I’m full.” If you develop leptin resistance, you never get that full signal, and develop a drive to eat that just won’t quit. You can imagine that doesn’t fare well for weight control. 

  • Insulin Resistance. Over time, too much added sugar in the diet (in addition to inactivity and obesity) can cause insulin resistance. Insulin regulates the amount of sugar that is in the bloodstream. One analogy is that insulin is like a key that opens the door to let blood sugar out of the bloodstream and into the cells where it can be converted to energy. When someone becomes resistant to insulin, the body produces more and more insulin in an effort to regulate blood sugar. This results in high levels of both glucose (sugar) and insulin in the blood. Insulin resistance can also result in excess fat storage in muscle and liver tissue. 

  • Diabetes. When your body is not able convert blood sugar into energy and the blood sugar rises to an unhealthy level, diabetes develops. Although the relationship between consuming large amounts of added sugar and developing diabetes is murky, scientists have found that drinking sugary beverages is associated with the development of diabetes. Diabetes can have devastating effects on a person’s quality of life. 

  • Weight Gain. Want to gain 15 pounds in a year? Just drink a single soft drink each day. It’s as simple as that and each additional serving increases the odds of obesity. Obesity is a complex disease so it isn’t fair to say that a high sugar intake causes obesity, but it’s clearly a contributing factor for many. 

  • Addiction. Sugar, for some people, can be downright addictive. Not surprising, since it has a powerful effect on the reward system in our brain, similar to nicotine and cocaine. Strong cravings for sugar can be hard to resist and can drive overeating.  

  • Joint pain. Elevated intake of processed sugar can lead to inflammation, causing joint pain and other inflammation-related diseases. 

  • Brain Dysfunction. A high-sugar diet is implicated in learning and memory problems, anxiety and depression. 

  • Heart Disease. One recent study showed that people who get 10-24.9% of their calories from sugar have a 30% increase in death from cardiovascular disease as compared to those who get less than 10% of calories from sugar. Those who consume more than 25% of calories from sugar have an even higher risk of death. It’s not clear why sugar has such a big impact. It may be due to the increase in blood pressure associated with sugary drinks, the liver pumping out fat into the bloodstream in response to simple sugar intake or some other yet-to-be identified cause. According to this study, excess sugar in our diet has the potential to take years off of our lives. 

  • Blunting of the Stress Response. Headline: “Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages can suppress the hormone cortisol and stress responses in the brain.” Initially, the news that added sugar can relieve stress seems to be positive and really not too surprising. Many people “treat themselves” with something sweet after a stressful day. The concern is that under-reacting (or numbing yourself) to stress is not healthy and may lead to a habit of overeating sweets with all the negative consequences that brings. It’s better to learn healthy mechanisms to manage stress. 

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”  --Socrates

The Basics 

  •  Eat six small meals protein-rich meals. 

  • Keep portions to 1/4 cup – 1 cup of food at a time.

  • Do not eat between meals.

  • Take about 20 minutes to eat a meal.

  • Avoid added sugars-2 grams or more.

  • Limit foods with a high fat content.

  • Do not drink with your food. Use the 5/30 rule: stop drinking 5 minutes before a meal and resume 30 minutes after you have finished your meal.

  • Watch calories from “sugar free” foods

  • Beverages should be calorie free with the exception of up 6 oz of juice a day.

  • Milk and protein drinks count as meals.


Six Small Meals

There are a lot of good reasons to adopt a six small meal eating plan after surgery. Eating six small meals keeps cravings at bay, energy high and moods bright. You’re more likely to meet your body’s nutritional needs too. If you’re an evening grazer, this eating pattern tends to shift calorie intake from evening hours and spread it more evenly throughout the day for energy when you need it most. A meal should last about 20 minutes. Space meals out by 2 ½-3hours.  Do not eat or snack between meals. That’s the time to sip on calorie free fluids. Be sure to choose healthy, unprocessed foods to nourish your body.


Keep Portions Small

Portion sizes are important. Your pouch or sleeve will usually let you know when enough is enough, but by starting with the right portion, you will ensure that you don’t overdo it. Use small plates and bowls and occasionally measure out food so that you can more accurately eyeball portion sizes. Most people judge portion sizes to be smaller than they really are--if in doubt, measure. Small bites, chewing well and eating slowly also help to control portions.


Avoid pitfalls. A six small meal pattern is not grazing all day and night.


Plan Ahead

A little planning goes a long way. Plan to take healthy meals and snacks with you when you leave home. For lunch think sandwiches made with wraps, rolled deli meat, soups, a protein-topped salad, tuna and crackers, yogurt and fruit, or shrimp cocktail. Snacks could include light string cheese and apple slices, crackers and peanut butter, Babybel light cheese, cottage cheese, portion-controlled nuts, or veggies and hummus. To improve morning efficiency, pack a lunch/snack bag the night before.


CHOOSE to be healthy. CHOOSE to be happy.


Be Selective

The food you choose impacts your health and well-being. Choose healthy foods. Build your diet on lean sources of protein—think lean fish, poultry and meat; low fat dairy and legumes. Add in fresh vegetables and fruits. Balance with small amounts of whole grains. Move away from highly processed foods.


Protein Rules
Include protein-rich foods at most, if not all, of your meals. This will help you to reach your daily protein goal and keep blood sugar levels on an even keel. Eat the protein portion of your meal first to help you feel satisfied.


Eating on the Run
No time to eat? Sometimes, you simply don’t have the time to chew foods well. In those instances, a protein drink, yogurt, cottage cheese, a glass of milk or string cheese may work perfectly. Keep protein bars, portion controlled nuts, ready-to-drink protein shakes or other convenient foods on hand for the times when healthy food options are not available. The key is to anticipate these situations and be prepared. 


Start Your Day Right
Don’t skimp on breakfast. You need a good protein source at the start of your day. If you’re in a rush a blended or ready-to-drink protein supplement, a glass of Fairlife milk, or Carnation Instant Breakfast will work. Eggs, egg sub, yogurt, or leftovers are protein-rich options.


Get Efficient
Rather than getting into the rut of eating out at dinnertime, become an efficiency rock star.  

  • Cook once and eat three times by repurposing food. Cook lean ground beef (or turkey) and mix it with marinara sauce to top spaghetti squash one night, season it for Mexican another night and make low-sugar sloppy Joes or shepherd’s pie on night 3.
  • Use a slow cooker and you’ll have an easy meal ready when you walk in the door. 
  • Keep the ingredients on hand for two or more family favorites. It’ll be easier to resist the draw of eating out.


Stock Up
Now that you know what you are going to eat, the next step is to shop. Keep your refrigerator, freezer and cupboards stocked with healthy food choices and the ingredients for quick, healthy meals. In the store, choose fresh, unprocessed food when possible to get more nutrition and less potentially harmful additives. Select a rainbow of fresh fruits and vegetables. Each color group provides different key nutrients for good health--fresh foods taste great and enhance the eating experience.  To speed your prep time, take advantage of frozen fruits and vegetables, pre-cut produce, and pre-cooked poultry and meats. Read labels to keep the added sugar to 2 grams or less per serving. Armed with a plan and healthy foods on hand, you are well on your way to healthy eating. 


Ready To Get Going?

First, take a look at the Barix Clinics Food Guide and sample menus (Resources at the top of the page). Then plan your own personal preference meals and snacks for the week. You may want to use the food log as a planner. Shop, prep and you’re ready for a great week. 


I think you’ll find that this up front work makes healthy food choices throughout the week easy.



Don’t forget to keep up with your food and activity tracking throughout this entire 8-week program. It’s a tool that you can return to time and time again when you find the need to get back on track.









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