Cheers to 2016

By Jane Sylvestre, RD - 12/29/2015


3 Really Important Reasons to Think about Your Beverages!

REASON NUMBER 1:  -the obvious- The calories.  I know this does not apply to all our patients, but many patients are consuming many of their calories from beverages.  This is most often the case with patients visiting our office for the first time.  I have had numerous patients drink more calories from beverages than they consume from food.  Four ounces of regular soda, juice, sweetened iced tea, lemonade… contributes about 60 calories.  Four ounces is a little sip.  Most people would drink 3-5X that amount in one sitting.  One can of soda is 150 calories.  If you drink 3 cans per day, you could be gaining almost a pound per week just from the soda.  Of course, the calories from soda don’t give you anything good except for maybe a very brief burst of energy (and then the crash.)

Coffee is another potential problem.  A large coffee with cream and sugar is 240 kcal.  Two coffees per day would once again, be just about another pound of weight gain per week.  Coffee is not the problem.  The cream and sugar are!  I often negotiate with patients to slowly work towards a goal.  Most patients are very hesitant to change the way they make their coffee; understandable.  However, keep in mind that when you drink coffee with cream and sugar you are really treating yourself with a “dessert.”  That is what a sweet is- cream/fat and sugar!  You don’t want to be eating or drinking dessert on a daily basis!  Sometimes it is easiest to just start by cutting down in size to a medium and then a small.  Others can change from cream to whole milk and eventually skim milk with a sugar substitue or no sugar at all.  Some people have a really hard time with skim milk in their coffee and prefer to have tea instead which is easier to drink without the cream and sugar.  Much of this transition is getting used to new tastes.   How many of you remember when you changed from whole to lower fat milk?  Same thing!  This just takes time for most people.  You can do it!

Alcohol.  Yes, it counts as calories and it adds up fast.  We are not saying you can never have an alcoholic beverage, but cut back.  One alcoholic drink whether it is an ounce of hard alcohol, a 12 ounce beer or 5oz wine is about 100-150 Kcal.  Multiple drinks?  Just not worth it.  Also remember that alcohol is dehydrating which is not a good thing with bariatric patients trying to get in enough fluids in the first place.  Also, keep in mind that you may “feel” alcohol a little quicker post surgery so you may not need as many anyway.  You’ll be a “cheap date!”  HA!

Protein drinks are often encouraged, but typically not forever.  When you are eating enough, protein drinks can often be eliminated.  Enough could be anywhere from 1,000-1,400 calories or more for weight loss and a minimum of 50 -80 grams of protein.  If you are not sure of a good calorie level for you, come see me and I can figure it out for you.  You certainly don’t have to count calories every day, but it is good to check in occasionally to see how you are doing.  In the case of the protein drink, calorie counting might help you realize you don’t need it anymore.  If the protein drink is above and beyond your Kcal and protein needs, it may be contributing to weight gain or difficulty breaking through a plateau at that point. 

REASON NUMBER 2:  Restriction- Our general guideline is to avoid drinking with you meals.  You should also avoid drinking for 1-2 hours post meals as well.  You can drink right before you eat.  If you are able to drink while eating, the liquids will soften the food to a point where it goes through the band or sleeve quicker.  In that case, you would not feel as much restriction and be able to eat more food.  You went through the whole process of getting surgery, so following this guideline is very important for the surgery to work for you.  Patients tend to forget this guideline over time so a reminder once in a while can be very beneficial.   Also, many people are not even able to drink while they eat even if they tried.  The food tends to block the passageway to a point where even liquids can have a difficult time getting through.  I often hear people tell me that they tried to drink while eating and the liquids came right back up on them.  In either case, you are best following the guidelines of not drinking with your meals. 

REASON NUMBER 3:  Hydration- Stay hydrated.  Often, when patients are following the guideline above, they forget to drink.  Remember to keep a non caloric beverage with you at all times so that when it is a good time to drink you have some liquids available.  I often encourage patients to keep a bottle of water at their desk or in their car.  Dehydration can give a false sense of hunger.  Just being thirsty can make you think you are hungry.  Also, drinking between meals is very important after surgery because you don’t want to have dry mouth when trying to eat without liquids.  Finally, fluids can help prevent constipation which is not uncommon with our patients.  Constipation is often an issue as our patients struggle getting in enough high fiber food (because the focus should be protein) and fluids.  So many reasons to drink, drink, drink and water is always the best option.  You can also get some fluids from the food you eat too.  This is another great reason to eat your fruits and vegetables!  We don’t suggest a certain amount of liquid to consume, but you will know if you are dehydrated.  Your mouth will be dry and your urine will be dark!  Let me share my stupidity with you.  I was not drinking enough about a year ago and got so dizzy and lightheaded that I passed out into the bathtub on my way to the toilet in the middle of the night and broke my nose.  Learn from me.  Stay hydrated! 

So, celebrate the New Year.  Rejoice in all your accomplishments.  Have a glass of champagne, but only one!  Go into the New Year with this gentle reminder to not drink your calories because it makes weight loss much more challenging.  You will be a much happier camper and feel better just by following these simple guidelines. 

Happy New Year to all!




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