Month 4 – Eat lots of colorful starchy vegetables and cut down on grains and low nutrient, colorless vegetables like corn and potatoes
America’s obsession with low-carbohydrate diets has unfairly vilified many wonderful foods that are critical to your long term success. While processed carbohydrates must be avoided, carbs that come from colorful, starchy vegetables make excellent choices. Sweet Potatoes, Yams and Squash are excellent foods that can be consumed comfortably within a few weeks of surgery. Eating large amounts of colorful, starchy vegetables will also decrease your desire for grains, potatoes and corn that will compromise your long term success.
Whole grains have received lots of positive press, but those who encourage the consumption of large amounts of unprocessed grains are often doing so as part of a business agenda, rather than because of good science. The Whole Grain Council appears to be a nonprofit consumer watch group put in place to help consumers choose healthy foods that are made from unprocessed grains. Their stamp of approval has been placed on over 10,000 different food products and adorns many cereal boxes that are loaded with sugar and artificial flavors. It should come as no surprise to learn that this “consumer watch group” is heavily funded by the food industry.
While whole grain foods contain lots of fiber, their health benefits can only be demonstrated when they are compared to processed grains like white bread and pasta. There is very little scientific evidence that demonstrates that adding whole grain foods to your diet improves your health. I liken the switch from processed grains like white bread and pasta to whole grain alternatives to changing from full tar cigarettes to low tar cigarettes. While the low tar versions may be slightly less toxic, they do not present a suitable alternative to quitting smoking altogether.
Many postoperative patients are able to incorporate colorful starchy vegetables into their diet within a week of surgery. Well cooked sweet potatoes and squash go down very easily and provide calories and vitamins that help to ease your recovery. I recommend eating these foods frequently throughout the day starting in the second week after surgery.
To simplify my patients understanding of carbohydrates, I break them down into the “good,” “the bad,” and “the ugly.” Foods that are in the good category can be eaten liberally, even in large portions without concern for weight regain after surgery. Those in the “bad” category have more potential to cause weight regain and have to be consumed with care. I’ve found that patients who have had a particularly strong response to surgery or are exercising regularly can incorporate foods in the “bad” category without concern for weight regain. Those patients who have struggled with their postoperative weight loss or are sedentary after surgery should be very careful with these foods since even small amounts can cause weight regain
Those foods in the “ugly” category must be avoided completely by all postoperative patients. These “white” foods will threaten even the most successful postoperative patient’s weight loss. Thankfully, there are many delicious substitutes for pasta, bread and white rice that make avoiding these foods possible. There are several brands of pasta made entirely from beans, or a flour made from beans (usually chickpeas). These are often found in the gluten free aisle, but differ from the other gluten free products since they are made from beans, rather than other gluten free grains like rice. Off all the bread substitutes, I think that the sprouted grain breads like Ezekiel make the best choice. However, they still contain wheat and may contribute to weight gain in some. An even better alternative is to convert your sandwich into a salad by replacing the bread with a green leafy vegetable. This works well for most sandwiches (turkey, ham, chicken and hamburgers), but not for all. I’m not sure that a peanut butter and jelly salad would be appealing. Finally, white rice can be replaced with “riced” cauliflower that is is similar in taste and texture.
For many, Month 5 is the most difficult change to make because of addiction to all things gluten. The gluten that exists in today’s wheat products is much more addictive than in years past. In order to maximize a farmer’s yield from each harvest, wheat has become more and more genetically modified. While this brings down the cost of wheat, it has also increased the addictive potential.
Today’s gluten is broken down into metabolic byproducts that trigger the same pleasure centers in our brain as drugs like heroin or addictive prescription painkillers. The result of the decreased price of wheat and the increased addictive properties has been that Americans consume a lot more wheat of a poor quality than we did a few decades ago. Ending this trend is critical to success after weight loss surgery.
Colorful, Starchy Vegetables
Grains and grain-like vegetables
Whole grain breads