Eating Behaviours and Weight Maintenance
In the early weeks following bariatric surgery, most of the focus is on a phased introduction of foods and textures, moving from liquids only onto a more solid diet. The importance of eating slowly, chewing food well, sipping drinks slowly and keeping meals and drinks separate are emphasised. Over time, meal portions increase and there is less dependence on snacks and drinks in between meals to meet nutritional needs.
What are the best eating behaviours to focus on to ensure a good weight loss outcome and help with weight maintenance? Researchers in the United States investigated this and looked at a number of weight loss practices and eating behaviours in people who had a gastric band, gastric bypass or another bariatric surgery procedure. The weight loss practices included: getting weighed at least weekly, keeping a food diary, decreasing fat intake, stopping in between meal snacks. The eating behaviours included: eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner regularly, eating when feeling full more than once a week, eating when not hungry more than once a week, eating continuously during the day or part of the day and loss-of-control eating. The participants completed questionnaires before their surgery and at 1, 2 and 3 years after surgery. Information about the participants’ weights were also collected.
The results were interesting. Several behaviours were associated with a better weight loss and weight maintenance three years after surgery. These included: getting weighed regularly, being careful with fat content of meals, not snacking between meals, and eating breakfast, lunch and dinner regularly. Those who did not eat if they were feeling full, who did not eat when they were not feeling hungry and who did not eat continuously also had better results.
The researchers found that participants had the best results for weight loss and maintenance at three years if they did the following three behaviours: started to self-weigh, stopped eating when feeling full, and stopped grazing continuously during the day. The researchers concluded that adopting healthy eating behaviours after surgery helps to improve results.
In the US, there is a National Weight Control Registry which tracks the weights and behaviours of people who lost a significant amount of weight and maintained it. It also includes people who have had bariatric surgery. They also found similar results. As they looked wider than eating behaviours, the importance of physical activity was also acknowledged.
Further information about practical tips for helping with weight maintenance after bariatric surgery which can be downloaded from the EASO website https://easo.org/practical-tips-for-patients-after-bariatric-surgery/
Mary O’Kane, June 2021