For those that have had Weight Loss Surgery (WLS) eating protein based meals is important. Making sure you are eating healthfully to prevent heart disease is also important since many bariatric patients have had or still have high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. Heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the United States.
The good news is much of the bariatric way of eating does fall in line with a heart healthy lifestyle. Here are some things you can do to stay on your weight loss journey and have a healthy heart, too!
- Choose lean, low fat and fat free forms of protein.
Getting your protein is important, but getting in the leanest types of protein is key. Choose: low fat or fat free milk, cheese and yogurts, lean cuts of beef, 93% or leaner ground meats/poultry, skinless poultry, fish (especially cold water fish like salmon), beans and legumes, eggs/egg whites and soy products. Cook your protein using low fat or fat free cooking methods such as grilling, baking, broiling or steaming.
- Choose heart healthy fats and oils.
When cooking or as part of a meal choose the following: olive oil, canola oil, vegetables and nut oils, avocado, margarines that are trans-fat free, nuts and seeds. Fats and oils are high in calorie and should be used sparingly. If you eat nuts or seeds, keep the portions very small (no more than 1 ounce).
- Limit sodium.
It is recommended that adults try to keep their sodium intake to no more than 2300 mg daily. Some people with high blood pressure, diabetes or kidney disease may need to eat even less sodium per day. If you retain fluids, limiting sodium in your diet is very important as salt (sodium) causes the body to retain fluids. To lower the sodium in your diet try to following: avoid adding salt to foods at the table or when cooking, avoid canned soups and processed foods, avoid soy sauce and dine out less often. Choose other seasonings and spices, low sodium canned soups, low sodium processed foods and low sodium condiments. Experiment with fresh herbs and spices – your food does not have to be boring just because you eliminate or lower the salt.
- Choose fruit, vegetables and whole grains.
It can be hard to “fit in” these other food groups after WLS, but it is important to eat a wide variety of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains when you can, even if it is a small amount. Your best choices are fresh or frozen fruit or vegetables without sauces or added sugars, low sodium canned vegetables and canned fruit packed in water or juice (avoid syrup-packed fruit). Look for whole grains with at least 3 grams of dietary fiber per serving – such as high fiber cereals, brown rice, whole grain pasta, steel cut oatmeal, quinoa, buckwheat and barley.
- Physical activity.
Let’s not forget getting in our daily physical activity. Try to stay active by doing some type of physical activity daily or most days of the week. Choose an activity that you enjoy to make it easier to stay active over your life time. It is a good idea to vary your physical activity as seasons and circumstances change and your activity level should remain constant all year round. Physical activity is not just a tool for weight loss and weight maintenance, it is a tool for heart health and overall wellness.
Learning healthful eating habits and physical activity is a process – set new goals for yourself regularly to help you stay heart healthy and on track with your weight loss journey.
What goals do you have to stay on track? Please share them with us below. We would love to hear from you!
Dietitian’s Corner is a monthly column for post-op and pre-op patients of bariatric surgery in NJ written by Prime Surgicare’s Lori Skurbe. Lori has been a dietitian for over 20 years with an extensive background in weight management, bariatric nutrition and diabetes education.