tracking after wls

11 Mistakes to Avoid When Tracking After WLS

May 5, 2017

So…you've had your weight loss surgery, and are gung-ho on sticking to your new plan for your healthier lifestyle.  You feel confident and motivated!  You can actually see your goal weight in your near future. Your team of friends, family, doctors and your dietitian are all cheering you on.  Let’s recognize, so we can avoid, some of the very common mistakes that people make when tracking after WLS.

1. Don’t over-weigh yourself

Remember that the scale is not the whole story. Sometimes we lose pounds and other times we lose inches or an entire size.  A loss is a loss. Any loss is a success! Set a goal to weigh yourself once a week to avoid an emotional response. Weigh yourself on the same day, at the same time of day, on the same scale, wearing similar clothing for accurate weights.

2. Don't skip meals

Skipping meals, especially breakfast, will not set you up for a successful eating day. Eat within an hour of waking up to jump-start your metabolism and begin burning calories early in your day.  Try to eat regularly, around the same time every day including weekends and holidays.  Your body wants to be on a schedule.  Your body doesn’t want to have large swings of hunger and fullness. It wants to stay satisfied and comfortable all day long.  Eating meals spaced about 5-6 hours apart will help you avoid binge eating and feelings of “I’m starving.”

3. Don't be bland and boring

You are eating healthy and losing weight! Spice it up! Flavor foods with fresh herbs and spices. Try growing a few of your favorite herbs to use in meals.  Keep food tasting great so you do not get bored and fall off-track.  Flavorful food will increase your satisfaction.

4. Do NOT drink your calories

Try not to confuse thirst with hunger. That is a common mistake most people make. Our bodies crave hydration. Hydration helps digest and process the foods we consume.  Keep beverages sugar-free, calorie-free, decaffeinated and non-carbonated. Not a water drinker?  Okay, try flavored water, decaf tea or coffee, infuse your own water with a crisp cucumber or piece of fruit. Track those beverages too!  They are just as important as the food you are eating!

5. Catch your ZZZ's every night

Sleep is very under-rated in this busy life. We need seven to eight hours of sleep on average, every night, for our bodies to produce enough of the hormone Leptin.  This important hormone helps tell your body when it is full.  We need every bit of help we can to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. Try to follow a “sleep schedule” and track your sleep daily. Try to “unplug” every night, around the same time.  No phones, computers, tablets allowed.  Relax, de-stress and let sleep happen.  You burn 60 calories an hour sleeping!

6. Track your fiber

Once you have been ~4 months post-surgery, most dietitians will begin to add fiber into your diet. Women need 25 grams daily and men 38 grams of fiber daily. Fiber is super important in helping you digest foods, it lowers your cholesterol, keeps your bowels regular, and helps you to feel fullness quicker and satisfied longer. Try throwing some nuts or seeds into your next oatmeal or salad. Whole grains, beans, and legumes are all great ways to pack in some valuable fiber daily. Look at your plate and make sure 20% of your meal has fiber in it twice daily.

7. Track your mindless eating

We need to be aware of those times that we are eating without hunger. When you write down or log what you are eating, add what time of day you are eating and how you feel.  We want to avoid a pattern of mindless eating.  Eating a meal should be the focus of what you are doing. Do not multitask when eating.  Always make meal time a part of your day for you to sit down, mindfully eat and enjoy the meal you planned for.  It’s okay to “enjoy” your food.

8. Every meal should include protein

Protein is very important. It will increase your satisfaction more than a carbohydrate will.  Protein helps stabilize blood sugars. It will help you preserve muscle mass, and increase your metabolism. Eating protein will improve your daily level of energy, immunity, concentration and mood.  Those reasons alone should make you want to have your plate be 40% (3-4oz) of a healthy, lean protein like turkey, chicken, shrimp, lentils, black beans or fish.  Check off your food log that you have included protein in every meal!

9. Avoid hidden calories

You are being a conscientious tracker and don’t understand why you are not seeing better weight loss results. Remember, regular beverages such as iced teas, juices, sports drinks, energy drinks, and alcohol have calories. Drinking these calories adds up during the day to unwanted calories that will inhibit weight loss.

Salad dressings are another source of hidden calories.  You may have a healthy salad that's filled with fiber, legumes and lean protein and then pour a creamy dressing on it that is loaded with calories. Now, this salad just became a poor meal choice.  Try vinaigrettes, lemon juice or a low-fat clear dressing instead. Dunk your salad into dressing instead of pouring dressing.  Oils, butters, and other fats are also hidden calories. There are better choices to use for cooking such as sprays. Never drip, always spray!

10. Pay attention to portion size

When in doubt, measure or weigh foods to learn portion sizes.  It is also helpful to learn portion size equivalents. These visual tools will help you track more accurately.

ITEMMEASUREMENT
Palm of your hand3-4 ounces
Baseball1 cup
Two game dice 1 ounce
Egg2 ounces
Make a fist with your hand1/2 cup
Back of your thumb1 teaspoon

11. Track your success

Most people focus on the long-term goal instead of the many short-term goals and changes you are making that are lead you to success. Acknowledge the positive lifestyle changes that you are doing daily.  Make specific, weekly goals that are attainable.  As an example, you could set your goal for this week to bring your food with you to work every day for lunch. Another example might be for you to fit in some cardio and weight training four times this week. Whatever your short-term goals are, always reward yourself (in a non-food way) for accomplishing them. Be your own best cheerleader. It is okay to tell yourself that you are doing a great job!

Every day is a challenge.  Every day takes planning to live a healthy lifestyle. Tracking yourself after weight loss surgery is crucial. It holds you accountable for the choices you are making. It also lets you recognize how well you are doing and that you ARE in control!  Food, diet and living a healthy lifestyle should be habitual (timing and spacing of meals) and rituals for the best results. Tracking daily will help you get there. Before you know it, these healthy changes will become a part of your everyday routine! Now is your time to maximize your self-monitoring and create healthy habits for a lifetime!

sharon-george

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sharon George, MS, RD, CDN received her B.A. in Psychology from Syracuse University. She completed a second Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition at L.I.U.C.W. Post and received her Master’s degree in Community Counseling from Hofstra University. She has been published in OH Magazine and Bariatrics Today. After working as a clinical Registered Dietician at several New York hospitals, Sharon has dedicated her career to Bariatric Nutrition for the past 15 years at the New York Bariatric Group.
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