Diet Tips for Avoiding Weight Regain

There are times where simple dietary changes can help maintain your target weight or assist in losing some excess weight that may have been regained after a period of time. Weight regain most often occurs several years after bariatric surgery. Most commonly, weight regain is caused by life getting in the way of strict diet and exercise regimens. This results in patients losing track of their caloric intake and allowing themselves to eat more than they should.

The gastric pouch is a very interesting organ in that it can stretch itself quite significantly after bariatric surgery. This means that a stomach that was once was the size of a golf ball, may now be two, three, or four times that size. As the stomach stretches, the patient eats more than they should and consequently regains weight. The goal is to prevent this stretching and the best way to do so is by modifying diet at the first sign of significant weight regain.

We must understand why the patient is regaining weight. A detailed food journal that keeps track of daily intake – the foods we eat and the liquids we drink– is very helpful to this point. Ideally, using one of the many smart phone applications that can also track calories is very helpful in understanding how much the patient is eating and how that may be affecting weight gain. As a bonus, noting how the patient feels, both before and after eating a meal, can add perspective to simple caloric consumption. This helps us understand if the patient overeats when they are stressed, sad, happy, tired, or otherwise. We can then compare caloric intake to post-surgical instructions and understand if diet is indeed the cause of the weight regain.

It is also important that any diet be balanced. Extreme diets and/or dietary supplements can actually be detrimental to a patient’s health. In the end, eating complex carbs like whole grains versus simple carbs such as refined sugars is important. So too is eliminating bad, saturated fats like full fat dairy and replacing them with good fats like olive oil, nuts, and avocado. These are the ways to ensure that nutrients are consumed healthily.

The body can sense when there is a problem. If it believes that it is receiving too few calories, it can go into a sort of ‘starvation mode,’ which can, in turn, trigger additional fat retention. Making sure that the patient is consuming the correct amount of protein as outlined in our postsurgical packet is important. Protein can be derived from regular food, such as beans, grilled chicken, fish, and other lean meats. Additional protein can be supplemented by adding a low calorie protein shake.

If, after modifying your diet, you do not see a reversal of your weight regain, there may be a more significant issue that needs to be addressed. This can sometimes require surgery and we suggest that you contact our office to learn more about revision bariatric procedures that may be appropriate for your circumstance. In the meantime, please let us know if there is any way that we can help you modify your diet to ensure continued weight loss or maintenance. We also suggest that you use support group as a way to get ideas from your fellow bariatric patients.