#1 Don’t Skip Breakfast!
Your morning meal jump starts your metabolism and helps to prevent bingeing later in the day. A cup of coffee does not count! The caffeine and added sugar may give you a bit of energy and suppress your appetite for a little while, but it is sure to back fire into increased hunger before noon and you will be more likely to overeat. Breakfast should include complex carbohydrates like whole grain (granola or oatmeal), along with some protein and fat (low-fat yogurt or milk). Eating a healthy and hearty breakfast will help to keep your energy levels even and hunger in check.
#2 Eat more often – up to six times per day.
Get into the habit of eating every two to three hours or up to six times a day if you are post-surgery, and up to four times per day if you are pre-surgery. Eating more frequently helps to stabilize your blood sugar, and eating smaller meals will help you to adjust to your new smaller stomach which resulted from your Lap Band surgery. When your blood sugar drops too low, you’ll experience cravings and you will want to eat a lot. By keeping your blood sugar stable you can increase your impulse control and help control your appetite, plus you’ll boost your metabolic rate to a higher level. When you go too many hours without eating your body will compensate by slowing down your metabolism to conserve energy – this will negatively affect your weight loss efforts.
#3 Eat protein at every meal – and eat your protein FIRST.
Protein will help to reduce your appetite, and because it takes more energy and time to digest, you will feel full longer than eating carbohydrates alone. Because your Lap Band surgery reduced your capacity to hold food, it’s important that you start your meal with protein. Additionally – research shows that eating more protein can help you lose weight without cutting calories. Try these protein possibilities: turkey on whole wheat; hummus and pita; vegetarian chili; fruit and nuts; or protein snack bars that contain 12 or more grams of protein.
#4 Be a smart snacker – plan ahead!
Many of us grab a snack for quick energy when we are feeling tired. But do not confuse true hunger with fatigue. If you are feeling tired go for a 15-20 minute brisk walk. This will raise your heart rate and give you a boost of energy. Follow it up with a large glass of cool water. If you are truly hungry, or it’s time for another small meal (see tip #2 above) have a protein and complex carbohydrate rich snack like; whole wheat crackers and peanut butter or cheese.
#5 Consume enough for your body’s needs, but be aware of your reduced capacity.
Eating too little food can slow your body’s metabolism in the same way that eating too infrequently does. During your post-surgery recovery period, you’ll be eating much less food than pre-surgery, and you may also find that you are not as hungry as before. Be sure to eat small meals more often so that you do not slash your calories too drastically, throwing your body into ‘starvation’ mode. Be sure to get in some exercise or activity every day at a low level in the beginning, ramping up as you complete your recovery and feel stronger. Remember to cut out the extras in your nutrition plan and avoid items like soda, juice, packaged goods or candy. Processed foods tend to be high in fat and calories and low in vitamins, minerals and fiber, and avoid ‘sliders’ that do not stay in your new smaller pouch and will hasten your feelings of hunger returning.