In the early days of working with bariatric surgery patients I had a conversation with someone who had lost over 100 pounds from the gastric sleeve and had kept it off for more than three years. I was impressed when she said she had not experienced any of the weight bounce back, or gain, that can come with the tool. I had to ask what her secret was. Her answer was quite simple: She just kept a close track of the amount and volume of food she ate. She never allowed herself to guess at her portion size. By keeping her food volume in check, she dramatically slowed the time it took for her stomach to accommodate more food. In other words, she maintained feeling full on less food for many months longer than her friend who had gone through the surgery at the same time. And this food constraint, she believes, allowed her to lose the weight she needed to lose and keep it off.
I have seen this same weight loss success in a few of my own clients. They are very diligent in measuring their food and volume with each meal, never allowing their eyes to tell them what four ounces of chicken is; they always measure it out. They are the first to admit it’s tedious, but their dedication to building this habit made all the difference in their overall weight loss.
Don’t Trust Your Eyes!
I bring these stories up because one of the sneaky things that can happen after bariatric surgery is an increase in the amount of food you can consume. The amount starts small—it has to, because there isn’t much room. But after a while there is a gradual increase in the amount you can eat. One reason for this comes from guessing or estimating the volume of food you are eating. At first you may be close to accurate, but with time what you may think is a 4-ounce piece of meat could in reality be 5 or 6 ounces, and over the course of time that extra volume of food will add up. By measuring the volume of food for every meal every day you can guarantee that you’re eating the right amount of food. Yet if daily measurements are too much, then measuring your meal every few weeks can keep you from straying too far off the path.
This is a habit that I suggest to all of my clients when they get past the six-week mark with their recovery for two reasons: First, keeping the volume of food consistent will slow the capacity of the stomach, keeping the amount they need under control. Secondly, the more you measure your food volume, the better you will be at estimating food size when you can’t measure your food in situations like eating at a restaurant or a friend’s house.
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Geof has been working with bariatric surgery clients for over a decade. His goal with Phoenix Fitness is to give you the tools to make your weight loss successful for the long term.