Food Choices

Food Choices That Can Keep You From Losing Weight After WLS

April 17, 2019

Success after weight loss surgery is up to the patient to make the necessary lifestyle changes and to continue these changes for years after surgery. One of the changes to focus on is your food choices.

Make Healthy and Appropriate Food Choices for Continued Success

After weight loss surgery, 6 weeks post-surgery and beyond, it is up to you to make healthy and appropriate food choices for continued success on your weight loss journey.

In a previous article I wrote, “Bariatric Surgery: 10 Things To Do & 10 Things Not To Do!” I discuss briefly that weight loss surgery is another tool to assist with weight loss; it does not ‘cure’ obesity, poor eating habits, or an unhealthy diet. In this article, I hope to bring awareness to foods to watch out for as you are incorporating your new eating habits into your daily routine.

Don’t have time to make breakfast? Didn't meal prep over the weekend? Just stop by the convenience store or fast food joint to pick something up, right? STOP! Some of the prepackaged “healthy” snacks are full of extra sugar and fat. Prepackaged or fast foods typically contain added sugars and fat for stability and favorable texture. This can lead to added calories and unintentional overeating.

Most shelf stable food choices can also be high in sodium, used as a preservative or for flavor. Too much sodium can increase thirst, interfere with eating high protein/nutrient-rich foods and increase water retention.

Watch Out For: Sauces

Sauces can have high calories, even in small amounts. Anything creamy or cheesy will typically have more fat, and sweet and sour sauces can have added sugar which will increase calories.

Slider foods (simple carbohydrates) are the biggest offenders. Foods such as pastry breads, cakes, doughnuts, chips, flour tortillas, white rice, pasta, white crackers and other soft, easy to chew, easy to swallow foods are not good for anyone. Stay away from these options or have them only on occasions. These are full of added calories and are low in nutritional value. Not only are the calories non-nutritive, but you may also still feel hungry after eating and your weight may creep back up.

Watch Out For: Restaurant and Prepared Foods

Restaurant foods can be dangerous as well because most are cooked in oils and butter.

Some places have pre-prepared foods and dishes may have added salt to preserve food. Just like fast foods, restaurants have sauces and salad dressings that have added calories. Ask to have no added fats or added salt to your dish. Ask for condiments on the side or none at all. Choose yogurt based or vinaigrette dressings and ask if they can replace sauces with marinara, vegetable or broth-based sauces. Most places these days will accommodate your requests.

Watch Out For: Liquid Calories

Liquid calories are another big offender. When you are preparing for surgery and a few weeks after surgery, you get used to drinking your protein (calories) and sometimes it is easier to continue this rather than fit in whole foods to obtain your protein goal.

Sports drinks, milkshakes, pre-made coffee drinks are examples of popular drinks we encounter. Some may say healthy or added vitamins for energy. Be sure to check the labels as sugar can be added to compensate for the taste.

Smoothies – we love making our own smoothies at home because we know what is in them, however, sometimes we like to add too much of the good stuff like three fruits, honey, protein, almond milk, flax seed…all good things, but you may be drinking a high-calorie smoothie!

Each fruit can be at least 60 calories and the honey, though it is natural, is sugar. You could be walking away with a 500 calorie meal replacement.

Alcohol – 1.5oz hard liquor, 5oz wine or 12oz beer can be 100-130 calories each. Mixed drinks can be as high as 400 calories. Overall, we do not suggest alcohol being a part of your diet plan as it is also empty calories (no nutritive value).

The takeaway, if you cannot meal prep and have to go out to eat, focus on lean protein sources, sugar-free foods that are low in carbohydrates, lower in sodium and low fat, so be sure to read the labels or search nutrition facts.

Can you have these things ever again? Yes, however, continually having these foods could lead to increased cravings. All the extra calories can be eliminated if you can meal prep one day a week.

Fats should be based on calorie intake and sodium varies depending on your health status, contact your dietician.
High Fat & Sodium Fat Saturated Fat Calories Calories from Fat Sodium
Protein Scramble 46g 25g 580 414 1080mg
Veggie Scramble 32g 12g 430 288 580mg
Chipotle Chicken Wrap 31g 3g 630 279 1280mg
Beef and Cheese Burrito 23g 9g 540 207 1380mg
Thin Crust Pepperoni (1 slice of 12") 9g 5g 200 81 551mg
Medium French Fry 20g 3g 387 180 246mg
Tuna Melt 94g 12g 1220 846 500mg
Greek Salad (1 cup, no Dressing) 34g 4g 380 306 410mg
Choose foods that contain less than 5 grams of sugar per serving. (4g = 1 teaspoon of sugar)
High Sugar Sugar (per serving) Calories From Sugar
Low Fat Strawberry Yogurt 29g 116
BBQ Sauce (1/2 cup) 48g 192
Spaghetti Sauce (1 cup) 16g 64g
Bottled Smoothies up to 96g 384
Salsa 32g 128
Duck Sauce (Asian Sauce) (1 tablespoon = 8 grams) 32g 128
Flavored Vinaigrette (2 tablespoons = 11 grams) 22g 88
Fat-Free Dressings (2 tablespoons = 8 grams) 16g 64
Donuts 50g 200

Tips to Keep Losing Weight After WLS

Grocery Shopping - Look for things in the refrigerated section instead of those inner aisles that typically store shelf stable carbohydrates with added sugars.

Water - Make sure to get in your daily water intake. If you are working out, remember to increase fluids and could add a sugar-free electrolyte drink to your workout days.

Accountability - Using a nutrition tracker to log your daily food intake can help with accountability. Keep follow-up appointments with your surgeon, nurse practitioner, primary care doctor or registered dietitian on a regular basis to continue the best care. Keeping a food log helps identify eating habits that could potentially play a role in weight gain.

Contact your dietitian or surgeon’s office for more information.


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Rebecca Luttrell


Rebecca Luttrell is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist from the north Fort Worth area. She became interested in bariatrics in doing intensive dietetic internship rotations. This exposed her to bariatrics both in the clinical and nutrition counseling settings. She joined the My Bariatric Solutions team in May 2017 and her favorite part of being there is appreciating and supporting the population of people they serve. Read more articles by Rebecca!