Jacqui Lewis - BHSc Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine
A Weight Loss Weapon: Your Food Journal
All these rules: Proper nutrition. Commit to an exercise routine. Take your bariatric vitamin supplements daily.
And are you now keeping a food diary?
Phew! Your new lifestyle can feel overwhelming now that you have had Bariatric Surgery.
Although you now have less food on your plate, metaphorically - it's a lot on your plate.
Why are food journals even necessary?
How do you keep an accurate food journal?
Remember when you were a kid, and your parents told you to do something, and you'd go, "BUT WHY?" Then you were promptly told, "Just do it.” Here's a compelling statistic as to why:
According to research from Harvard Health, studies show those who keep a food journal are likely to lose two times the excess weight and maintain the loss compared to those who do not keep a food journal.
The Bariatric Diet: The New You
Your Pre-Bariatric Surgery diet will prepare you for your new nutrition regimen after surgery.
For approximately the first six weeks post-surgery, your diet will progress through different stages. You will start on a high protein liquid diet and, over time, introduce soft foods into your diet until you can eat whole foods again.
While the initial weeks after surgery are not a time for new food experimentation, they are critical for helping your new stomach to heal and fuel your body with the protein it needs to prevent deficiencies. Once you can resume a whole-food diet, mapping out and recording your goals to meet your protein, carbohydrate, and fat goals is the key to your nutritional success. And nutritional success = weight loss success.
Although keeping a food diary might seem like one extra thing you must do now (eye roll), your future, healthier self will thank you. There are four benefits of keeping a food diary:
1. Preventing guesswork - what am I eating today?
2. Outlines the timing and portion sizes for meals and fluid consumption to ensure you consume the right amount of nutrients.
3. You remember to take your Bariatric Multivitamin supplement!
4. Have accurate information about your eating when meeting with the dietitian.
You can also make extra notations that may be helpful:
1. Rating Your Hunger level (0-5 (not hungry to famished)
2. Don’t procrastinate: record all food intake immediately
3. How do you feel after each meal - satisfied? Full?
4. Reactions to foods - difficult to digest?
How to Maintain a Food Diary
1. Do what works for you: Are you the type who likes to write out your to-do list? You will want to do the same for keeping your food journal.
Or do you live and breathe by phone apps? You're in luck - plenty of apps are available such as Baritastic (40,000 five-star reviews).
2. Don't procrastinate: record all food intake immediately.
3. Be consistent: Record it all.
4. Honesty: Even if you eat something that makes you feel guilty, write it down and then move on. Don't let the guilt creep in!
As you go through the process of writing in your food journal, it is important to also do the following:
1. Identify your goal
Although you and your surgeon have decided on a goal weight to achieve after your Weight Loss Surgery, there are also non-numerical goals:
The biggest one is your why.
- What changes from your Pre-Bariatric diet to your new diet help your lifestyle transform?
- Are you looking forward to having more energy to keep up with your kids or grandkids?
- Do you want to enjoy shopping again?
- Do you want to try that Pilates class?
This will keep you motivated when you get into one of those "I don't feel like writing my food down" moods.
2. Set a date
Without a specific time frame, there is no sense of urgency.
- Do you want to accomplish your goal in time to attend a special event such as a wedding?
- Do you have a specific dress you want to wear for your birthday?
No sense of urgency is needed to keep the ball rolling when things get tough without a date. Is there a special event you want to attend? Tip: Many patients find using a weight loss tracker app to track their progress helpful.
3. Celebrate little wins
Did you go a whole week hitting your daily protein intake and eating the number of calories your dietitian instructs?
Treat yo' self. No, not with a scone from the bakery. But you can get a pedicure or that excellent phone cover you've been eyeing on Amazon.