Whether you are pre-surgery, in recovery, or post-surgery, breaking old eating habits is one of the primary keys to achieving Success Beyond Surgery. Do you stick to your eating and nutrition plan all day long but struggle with familiar old late night cravings?
Modern research has discovered that when you eat matters almost as much as what you eat. Check out these easy lifestyle adjustments to help you keep on track and achieve your health, fitness and weight loss goals.
Change the Way You Eat!
- Check out some of the latest research. There have been many studies over the years about whether calories consumed at night are more likely to make you fat. The general consensus is that it’s best to eat when you are the most active. You may have heard that some athletes avoid eating after 7:30 p.m. Try resolving to stop eating a couple of hours before bedtime – and if it’s a previous bad habit, its even more important to break that cycle.
- Start with a healthy breakfast. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Your body needs to refuel. Plus, you’ll be likely to eat less for the rest of the day if you begin with a full stomach. Make a bean burrito, a vegetarian omelette, or drink a protein shake or smoothie with a slice of whole wheat toast. Remember that this first meal of the day should fit in with your overall nutrition plan – and if you are already banded, you may be “tighter” in the morning and unable to eat bulkier foods. Keep notes on how your band feels at different times of the day to help you plan more effectively.
- Eat more frequently. Every four to six hours is a good time for a meal or a snack once you’re in post-band territory, but during the recovery period, you may find you need to drink something (clear liquids, protein, etc as instructed by your surgeon) more often to stave of thirst (which can be mistaken for hunger) and to make sure you are getting enough calories. This schedule will help to keep your metabolism running at a higher level and help prevent you from overeating at night because you arrive home from work starving.
- Choose healthy snacks. If you MUST eat at night because of your schedule, choose your snacks wisely. Vegetables, fruits, nuts, and whole grains are all better than processed foods high in sugar and fat and low in nutritional value. Try to avoid eating and then going right to bed – it does not give your body sufficient time to process the food and may slow down your digestion process.
- Consume more fiber. Fiber is ideal for keeping you feeling satiated while eating less. This ingredient is why a plate of steamed broccoli sprinkled with a little garlic or vinegar leaves you feeling more content than a cookie that contains more calories. Remember to chop fibrous foods or vegetables into small pieces and chew thoroughly to avoid getting “stuck”.
- Limit your portions. There may still be room for old favorites like ice cream or brownies. Just measure out a sensible portion so you get the flavor without adding to your waistline. Try to find lower-sugar and lower-fat versions of these favorites, or modify recipes so that you can occasionally indulge without completely blowing your nutrition plan. If these are trigger foods for you, avoid them entirely – don’t take the chance of triggering a major backslide.
- Drink water or tea. Beverages without any calories give you the experience of snacking without interfering with your diet. Sip water anytime and enjoy a cup of decaffeinated tea in the evening, but be careful with sweeteners. Consider experimenting with different types of teas to give your palate a new experience and perhaps even gain health benefits.
Other Positive Lifestyle Adjustments
- Improve your sleep. It’s easier to ignore the refrigerator if you’re sound asleep. Keep a regular daily schedule, incorporate exercise into your daily routine, buy a good mattress – especially if it’s been a while since you replaced your current one, and block out distracting lights and sounds. If you live in a noisier area, consider purchasing a “white noise” machine to help block out the sounds.
- Wake up early. Early risers tend to weigh less than night owls even if they eat the same amount. Try going to bed and rising 15 min earlier each week until you work up to getting to bed an hour earlier and rising an earlier. You’ll naturally eat less at night because your body will be preparing for sleep.
- Brush your teeth after meals. Once you brush, rinse and floss, you may decide it’s too much trouble to clean your teeth again so you’ll pass on that calorie-bomb of a cheesecake. You’ll also keep your teeth and gums healthier – a great side benefit!
- Turn off the TV. A sedentary lifestyle plays a big role in weight gain. Go for a walk or visit the gym after work instead of munching while you watch TV or surf the Internet. Consider investing in a system that includes fitness components like the Wii Fit and if getting outside isn’t practical, get your dance on, move your body, and achieve a new high score in your favorite sports game!
- Reward yourself with non-food treats. Substitute a warm bath, a massage or a good book in place of your usual bag of chips and soda. Your new rituals will become a more positive habit after 21 to 28 days, so stick with it!
- Keep a journal. If you need help changing your ways, writing down your activities, blogging, or recording them as audio entries may help. It will remind you of how many calories you really consume at night.
Get plenty of restful sleep and eat sensibly all day starting with a nutritious breakfast. You’ll be better prepared to ward off late night hunger pangs and reach your weight goals while giving your body enough calories to feel full and energetic.