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Healthy Eating After LAP-BAND Surgery

Jan 18, 2008
Your LAP-BAND surgery represents the first big step towards long-term weight loss but it's not a magic bullet. You do need to be prepared to make healthy lifestyle changes for the best results. One important area is how you eat. Before you panic--this is not a diet! Living with the LAP-BAND means that you should feel full after small meals and making better food choices--without the feeling of deprivation and starvation. As you make the transition to your new lifestyle after LAP-BAND surgery, consider the following everyday guidelines and tips for healthy eating.

How to Eat Healthy Everyday

After your LAP-BAND is placed, you will not be able to eat large portions of food. The LAP-BAND is designed to help restrict the amount of food you eat while making you feel satisfied with less and longer. Most patients require only 1 to 1.5 cups of food per meal. In most cases, if the band is adjusted properly, even this modest amount of food can be difficult to finish. Hence, you should try to enjoy your meals by eating slowly and chewing well to ease digestion.

For the most part, your meals should be centered on a portion of healthy protein such as lean meats. Then, you should add items like fresh fruit, steamed vegetables, light or low-calorie dressings and sauces. After you structure three healthy daily meals, you should try to maintain a consistent schedule and avoid snacking throughout the day. If the band is properly adjusted, you shouldn't feel the pangs of hunger that accompany most diets. The key is finding a way to incorporate foods you enjoy into small, healthy meals. Most importantly, if you find a healthy way to eat the foods you love, you won't feel deprived or have trouble meeting your long term weight loss goals.

Though most LAP-BAND patients will be able to enjoy healthier versions of their favorite meals, there are certain items that can be difficult to digest. Foods such as steak, bread and fibrous vegetables like asparagus can cause some LAP-BAND patients discomfort as these items typically can't be chewed well enough to digest easily. Additionally, soft deserts such as ice cream and pudding should be avoided in most cases as the LAP-BAND is not designed to restrict such items.

While it is important to drink water throughout the day to stay healthy and hydrated, you should avoid drinking beverages with your meals. It can "wash down" the food in your stomach that the LAP-BAND is designed to keep there to help you feel full longer and more satisfied.

Making Sense of Menus

While you will certainly find ways to prepare healthy, well-proportioned meals for yourself at home, healthy eating is often more difficult when eating out. However, regardless of where you eat, you will be able to find healthy options if you know what to look for on the menu. Be confident in your decision to eat healthy and try not to feel different than those around you if they're ordering unhealthy foods and larger portions.

To help you learn how to eat make good choices with your LAP-BAND, consider the following tips when dining out.

* Order salads or steamed veggies as side dishes rather than fried alternatives.

* Ask for all salad dressings and sauces to be placed on the side.

* Pay attention to the menu's "buzz words." Avoid fried foods and look for items that are grilled, baked, broiled, roasted, steamed, stir-fried or poached. If the menu isn't clear about how an entrée is prepared, ask your waiter for better descriptions of menu items and possible recommendations for a healthy meal.

* Order an appetizer or a children's portion. After LAP-BAND surgery, you will receive a patient ID card that explains your need for smaller portions, allowing you to order children's meals at most restaurants.

* Order "light" meals. It most cases, light entrées will eliminate extra butter and oil or be prepared without frying.

* Try to avoid soups and sauces with cream bases, including items such as alfredo sauce and chowder-type soups.

* When your food arrives at the table, ask for a box or "doggie bag" and put away at least half of your dish to enjoy for another meal.

* If your party orders appetizers and deserts, share with others rather than ordering your own plate. Remember that the first few bites are always the best anyway, and put your fork down once you've had a taste or two.

* While excessive amounts of alcohol should always be avoided, a single glass of red wine at dinner provides a safe alternative to calorie-heavy beers and mixed drinks.

Making Healthy Choices on the Run

While traditional restaurants often make it easy to find healthy options and make substitutions from less-healthy menu items, fast food restaurants often pose more of a challenge for LAP-BAND patients. While you don't necessarily need to avoid "fast food," you need to take greater care in creating healthy meals. Here are some additional tips to follow when you are dining out, but short on time.

* As mentioned in the tips for dining out in traditional restaurants, you should choose grilled or baked items instead of breaded and fried dishes.

* Try to find a deli or a fast food restaurant that allows you to customize your meal.
About the Author
Carole S. Guinane, a Chief Clinical Officer writes articles about obesity and weight loss for New Hope Today.
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