The human relationship with food has evolved over time. While the foods our nomadic ancestors ate millions of years ago were once governed by whatever they could hunt or forage, we’ve since evolved to the point where what we eat is less about survival and more about choice. Humans today move less and eat more thanks to the breadth and depth of readily available food options at their fingertips. At the same time, obesity rates are skyrocketing and more people are turning to weight loss surgery to both lose weight and enjoy better health.
But eating after bariatric surgery is very different than eating prior to a weight loss procedure. Because of this, bariatric patients must be more discerning when it comes to the foods they eat. While bariatric meal replacement products are positioned to fill this void, they’re not all created equal. Which begs the question: What are people looking for when considering their meal replacement options? Read on for three considerations.
Sure, this one’s a bit of a given. After all, who wants to eat food that tastes bad? But in the case of weight loss patients, it’s also critical to address. Why? Because not only are people unlikely to eat meal replacement products that taste bad, but the experience may also drive them in the direction of unhealthy, non-compliant foods which will directly impede their weight loss efforts.
Conversely, bariatric patients who seek out and eat tasty foods enjoy enhanced satisfaction levels, which make their weight loss efforts more sustainable. In other words, when you’re satisfied with what you’re eating, you have far less reason to turn to less beneficial alternatives.
As a growing body of evidence tells us that changes in taste may occur after bariatric surgery, taste can be a particularly complicated issue for weight loss patients. The good news? These new food aversions can actually help people lose weight.
In fact, many patients report reduced cravings for sweet and salty foods while very few expressed newfound aversions to fruit and vegetables. In other words, plant-based foods may be exactly what bariatric patients are craving.
Learning to eat right after bariatric surgery takes time and effort. And while the expression goes, “Nothing good comes easy,” making things easier can make all the difference. While adequate planning and prep work is part of the most successful bariatric meal planning strategies, access to portable, shelf-stable, grab-and-go options — such as Achieve — can further boost adherence.
Perhaps more than anyone, bariatric patients know that the road to weight loss is a challenging one. Because of this, they value meal replacement options which will help make the journey easier.
The Obesity Coalition offers this advice to patients, “First and foremost, remember that your overall dietary goal is to optimize the nutritional value of the small portions of foods you eat so you get the nutrients your body needs to be healthy.”
Indeed, nutrition matters above all else when it comes to supporting both weight loss and comprehensive wellness following bariatric surgery. Unfortunately, many of today’s meal replacement products fall far short in the area of nutrition. Not only are they overly sweet and loaded with artificial ingredients, they’re also lacking in key nutritional components, such as adequate protein.
Certainly, the important of protein can’t be overstated for bariatric patients. According to research published in The Journal of the American College of Nutrition: “There is convincing evidence that a higher protein intake increases thermogenesis and satiety compared to diets of lower protein content. The weight of evidence also suggests that high protein meals lead to a reduced subsequent energy intake....In dietary practice, it may be beneficial to partially replace refined carbohydrate with protein sources that are low in saturated fat.”
Weight loss patients have more choices than ever when it comes to meal replacement products. However, this doesn’t mean that all of these choices are good ones. Helping them find options that meet these three criteria is an invaluable way for dietitians to facilitate adherence to bariatric meal planning toward overall health and wellness.