Frequent Reevaluation

Since having my gastric bypass reading food labels has become much more to me than just having a quick look at something to see how much sugar or fat something has in it. I read the labels of anything I’m considering eating and I pay far more attention to it when I read it. This is a really good habit to have developed and I’ve written a post about how to read food labels and you can check that out here.

This constant need for re-evaulation of what you are eating and the nutrient levels within the foods is especially important as you move up through the different dietary stages after surgery. As you move from puree to soft food and then transition to your new normal your dietary needs and the amounts you are getting from food changes. This is also impacted by reducing the amount of Optifast that you need to have the further out from surgery you get.

I tend to heavily investigate (Reallllllly read the food label) when I consider something new. Then if it’s appropriate I may refer to the label again a few times after I’ve started using it but once I know the protein levels per 100g off the top of my head I tend to stop referring to it altogether. It is important though to have a good handle on how much a 100g (or whatever size serving you are having) actually is and if that means you have to measure it out every time so be it.

I don’t use an app or anything to calculate my daily protein level because I know the approximate values of the things I eat regularly and I just add it up in my head as I go through my day. Because I use such a relaxed system of keeping track of it I need to remind myself to recheck labels every now and then to make sure I’m still on track in terms of serving size and protein content.

I got a bit of a fright the other day when I had guessed (and had been guessing for a long time) the weight of a tablespoon of protein powder. It turns out I was using half the amount I should have been which of course meant I wasn’t getting as much protein each day as I thought I had been. I was really surprised and it was something I’m glad I eventually figured out.

I think a focus on food and keeping an eye on the nutrient levels in foods are important to ensure long term success after bariatric surgery. Reading food labels is important but just as important is watching the serving sizes of the things you are making your meals up from. If you need to weigh things out to make sure the portion size is okay for a long time then do it. There’s still certain things I weigh out everytime because I don’t want to let it get away from me.

I am determined that I am going to maintain the healthy weight that I reached after my gastric bypass and by reading food labels, watching my portion sizes and constantly re-evaluating the nutrient levels in the things I eat is a strategy I think will play a huge part in being successful at this. How do you keep an eye on your protein levels? Do you make a habit of reading food labels? Comment below and let me know.

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There are 12 comments for this article
  1. Tinks at 9:37 am

    Yes, I’m with you girl. I read ALL the labels and for the products I like, I photograph them and keep them in my Evernote so I can do a quick mental add up throughout the day!

  2. Gemma at 4:43 pm

    I’m actually having huge trouble transitioning from the post-op phase to the ‘mostly normal’. I think suddenly having so much choice available to me I sometimes become paralysed by indecision and end up eating nothing for hours and hours because that’s easy and then giving in when something digestible and yummy comes along even tho I know this is the point I’m meant to be counting my protein and it’s just been too easy to not bother. Incidentally, I haven’t had a dietitian available to me in any of my post-op appointments so far and feel like (although I have all the paper instructions) you’re the only ‘real person’ presenting a reminder of what I need to be doing! Don’t worry, just saying this is how it’s panned out and it’s why I find reading your blog so useful. If I didn’t have it, I think I’d be blissfully eating only cheesecake and pretending I didn’t know better. Today decided to go back to Optifasts and veges (now that I can, I missed my veges!) for a while until I feel more settled and less out of control. Almost like I need to go back a step and start again…..

    • Melissa Peaks Author at 7:24 pm

      That’s really not good enough that you haven’t seen a dietician. Can you ask your team to refer you to one? It could be a good idea to start planning out a day or two in advance what you are going to eat. That way because the decision has already been made you can focus on your protein rich foods when you make your meal plan and you just have to follow it. Getting back to your new ‘normal’ can be really tough and it can be a bit up and down with what your body will allow you to eat. Yes take a breather to reset, take the pressure off yourself for a few days and when you’re ready to tackle it then go ahead. You know where to find me if you need any support xx

      • Gemma at 12:24 pm

        Thank you, that’s good advice. I’m pretty sure we have the same bariatric team, is just that C hasn’t been in anytime on my appointment days and B is great, but I’m realising that this is a period when I really do need support and am struggling. I will get there, it’s both some of my the things I expected and then a whole lot I didn’t!

        • Melissa Peaks Author at 12:32 pm

          You can always email C directly if you don’t have her the email address let me know and I’ll get it to you. You will get there and realising you need support and asking for it is really great. This journey really is a ride and some things do take you by surprise. I’m glad you found this post helpful, thanks for reading my blog I really do appreciate it!

          • Gemma at 1:48 pm

            Thanks hon, I do have C’s email so might try to find out if someone will be there for me at next appt in a few weeks. I think what’s helpful about this particular post and why I commented is that it reminded me that I am meant to be at a particular point (ie the protein counting) by now and I’m just not. It’s ok to have slightly odd eating habits for short periods through this process but I haven’t found my new normal yet and am aware that I kinda need to ASAP.

  3. Samantha at 8:56 am

    I think getting to grips with weighing food is an issue for any diet really. It’s something people see as unnecessary when it’s quite crucial. It’s important to know how much of what you’re feeding your body (and especially once you’ve gone for surgery).
    I was watching The Big Ward the other day and was quite shocked by some of the things the people featured were eating/drinking. One post-op patient was basically drinking iced coffee with a protein shot instead of a real protein shake without acknowledging how much sugar goes into iced coffees! If she had checked the food label and looked at the nutrition, I’m sure she would have realised what she was doing much sooner. It always pays to know what’s in your food!

    • Melissa Peaks Author at 9:07 am

      It is so easy to overestimate what a proper portion of food is. Even if you have weighed it for a while and have a pretty good handle on how much you think it is it’s really easy to gradually add just a little bit more each time and end up having too much. So yes weighing it is important long term to make sure you’re staying on the right track. Yes I was a bit shocked by that too. Unfortunately I don’t think the Counties Manukau DHB did as much food education as I got through Waitemata DHB and it showed. It also frustrates me that food producers put claims like “High in protein,” on their food which to some people translates to, “This is healthy,” when that’ not necessarily the case.

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