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It’s NOT a DIET!


In the case of bariatric surgery and the questions patients ask about their post-op “diet,” most bariatric professionals speak in terms of the lifestyle and dietary changes that accompany post-op living. The majority of patients, both pre-op and post-op, understand that one of the goals of preparing for bariatric surgery is to begin making healthy, positive changes to one’s lifestyle. Which, of course, is code for changing behaviors (primarily eating and exercise). Hence, the popular phraseology that “bariatric surgery requires accompanying lifestyle changes” in order for one to maintain the weight loss they experience during “the honeymoon” stage.

For many (most?) people who have bariatric surgery, being on a “diet” of one sort of another has been a way of life prior to having a bariatric surgical procedure. Atkins, Paleo, low carb, low fat, vegan, gluten-free, DASH diet, ZONE diet, Jenny Craig, Whole 30, Weight Watcher’s, very low carb, Sugar Busters, etc. etc. etc. Sound familiar?

When I hear post-op patients talking about “going on a ‘diet,’” I really want to scream, “THIS ISN’T ABOUT A ‘DIET’! It’s about LIFESTYLE CHANGES!

Don’t get defensive here if you have gone on a “diet” as a post-op. I understand that if you have regained weight, and are working with a bariatric professional, there may be a “diet” of sorts prescribed. That’s not what I’m referring to when I talk about my frustration. It’s when a post-op continues the diet-as-a-way-of-life mentality that I feel frustrated, and sad, actually.

Living life “on a diet” can be (and is, for some people), a way to: 1) avoid other things (feelings, relationships, etc.) by focusing all of their thoughts and attention on “the diet,” 2) remain obsessed with food (which may be an indication of a food addiction and/or my first point), 3) remain connected with others as “dieting” may have been the basis of their relationship with family members or friends, 4) attempting to have some area of control in life, and/or 5) lots of other things.

Regardless, dieting as a way of life is probably not a healthy way to live (for most people).

Sidenote: I add that “for most people” part because, sure as I’m sitting here, if I don’t say that, somebody is gonna get really ticked off and start thinking about how that isn’t the case for THEM and THEN they may miss the point of the whole article…

The POINT, by the way, is… choosing to have bariatric surgery is also choosing to make healthy, positive lifestyle changes. IF you want to sustain the weight you lose as a result of the surgery – and your efforts.

And YOU are in it to win it. SO… here’s how to change your thinking from making changes in your “DIET” to making changes in your lifestyle:

  • AWARENESS: Learn the difference between a “diet” and a “lifestyle change” if you don’t already know. Discuss this with your bariatric professionals, your support groups and your family members. Help those in your life understand the difference, as well. IF you fear not living on a “diet,” then perhaps consider getting some counseling to look into the reasons being “on a diet” is emotionally important to you.
  • ACCEPTANCE: Realize that if you want to live the rest of your life at a healthier weight, then lifestyle changes in the way of “diet” (as in what you eat), as opposed to “A DIET,” such as the ones name above, are necessary. And the healthy dietary changes need to a lifestyle… meaning you continue them every day, one day at a time. In addition, the lifestyle changes necessary to life your healthiest life can include things such as increased physical activity, exercise, learning healthy coping skills, developing a healthy support system, etc.
  • ACCOUNTABILITY: Find ways to be accountable for engaging in healthy lifestyle behaviors. Maintain food and exercise journals. Participate in support and/or accountability groups. Work out with others. Start a walking club. Start a support group. Take responsibility for your health. This day. Every day.
  • ATTITUDE: Work to have a more positive attitude about the difficult parts of the journey. Read positive quotes. Maintain a gratitude journal. Encourage others. Talk to yourself when you’re grumpy and remind yourself that will not lead you in the direction you want to go!
  • COMMITMENT: Make a list of the reasons you are working so hard to develop a healthier lifestyle and every day, SEVERAL times a day, state out loud your commitment to doing so. OUT LOUD! Your brain will hear you and respond in a positive way.
  • EFFORT: Unless you do the doing, nothing much will happen in the way of results. So this EFFORT thing needs attention every day. Get help to get you going if you need to! Yep – that means: Ask. For. Help. You can do that!
  • Your SELF matters. Be as loving toward yourself as you are to others. You are just important as every other person.

Using these 4 ACES will get you to the place where a healthy diet is part of your healthy LIFESTYLE!

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Mmmm ... I wrote a comprehensive response to this a while ago.

I even saw my response online.

Where has it gone?

Edited by Rainbow_Warrior

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@Connie Stapleton PhD With all do respect, while I have mad respect for your PhD and knowledge, this is just folderall and semantics. Lifestyle Changes are simply the fad term for today as is "mindfulness." 20 years ago it was called CBT, but few embraced it because it didn't have the right spin.

Please name 1 person who "food journals" that isn't on some kind of diet/fitness plan? I know of zero of these types in the general public.

Diet may be a 4 letter word, but it isn't necessarily a bad word. In fact, I would posit that in my formative years when most of my damage occurred, had I understood a proper diet composition and the consequences that come from overeating beyond my needs or body's ability to process certain food types, I would not be where I am today.

There is no way that I will remain successful if I do not track how much and what I eat. If I do not weigh or measure, I won't possibly know how much Protein I take in, nor will I have any awareness of how many calories I'm consuming. That is a diet, no matter what you choose to call it today--in the popular term.

I also know, that my surgeon has prescribed lifestyle fitness changes for me. She says that failure to exercise daily and to improve on core strength and muscle building exercises will eventually result in having an unmaintainable weight loss. That exercise is also part of my "diet/lifestyle/exercise" prescription that I'm supposed to "journal."

So there is nothing wrong with being on "A Diet". Every animal has a special diet that allows its species to thrive. As humans, there is no one-size-fits-all diet. They must be tailored to fit our specific needs and to address as many of our sociological and cultural traditions as possible while optimally being health-oriented...

I want to just add: This is the diet that never ends...at least for me. I will never "be done" with it. I will follow some iteration of this diet for life. Hopefully if I am truly successful at this with few deviations, I might actually be able to maintain my losses from the initial honeymoon phase of this WLS diet. :D

Just sayin...

Edited by FluffyChix
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Well said! Just sharing some thoughts. They certainly do not apply to everyone and your points are valid and well taken! Thanks for sharing!

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13 minutes ago, Connie Stapleton PhD said:

Learn the difference between a “diet” and a “lifestyle change” if you don’t already know.

I think this is one of the key takeaways. I don't consider myself to be on a "diet" any longer. In days of old being on a diet meant cutting out junk food, eating more salads, etc. It was always intended to be short term. Now that I've cut out so many things of old I don't consider myself to be dieting. What I eat now I consider to be normal.

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I agree with @FluffyChix 99.999%. If you remove the words 'diet', 'A DIET', 'lifestyle/lifestyle changes' and just present the outline, it is still a rose.

My NUT said that I would be basically doing low carb high Protein Atkins style FOREVER. 'Normal weight' individuals do not live and breathe their lives by weighing food, not buying certain food, journaling, planning, avoiding cheetos and chocolate cake. It might at some point become second nature to do these things for some, but I have my doubts the percentages are high on that stat.

But hey, if it makes anyone feel better to rename it, then go ahead.

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I have made a decision to stop thinking about being on “a diet” and instead for the rest of my life I will be paying attention to “my diet”.

Cute semantics, but for me a diet is temporary. My diet is permanent.

Because I have an addiction, I anticipate it may be some time before my diet is just an effortless, habitual series of mostly good choices. Maybe not but I know me and the ways I deceive myself to justify potato crisps and dip. “I will eat less/exercise more/exercise at all tomorrow”.

With my diet now, attention to Protein. Protein first. From my surgeon this is the only rule for ever. Every meal, start with protein. For two of my three meals this can not be slider food like a Protein Shake, but chewed protein. After that, I will make choices.

I must say, I am loving the hummus, crisp veggies, and real flavours of real food, and my partner has lost a couple of kilos because of my cooking choices (I am doing all the cooking because I am still off work). No takeaways not (too hard to do the ‘protein first thing’) - that alone is an important part of my diet these days...

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[mention=285446]Connie Stapleton PhD[/mention] With all do respect, while I have mad respect for your PhD and knowledge, this is just folderall and semantics. Lifestyle Changes are simply the fad term for today as is "mindfulness." 20 years ago it was called CBT, but few embraced it because it didn't have the right spin.
Please name 1 person who "food journals" that isn't on some kind of diet/fitness plan? I know of zero of these types in the general public.
Diet may be a 4 letter word, but it isn't necessarily a bad word. In fact, I would posit that in my formative years when most of my damage occurred, had I understood a proper diet composition and the consequences that come from overeating beyond my needs or body's ability to process certain food types, I would not be where I am today.
There is no way that I will remain successful if I do not track how much and what I eat. If I do not weigh or measure, I won't possibly know how much Protein I take in, nor will I have any awareness of how many calories I'm consuming. That is a diet, no matter what you choose to call it today--in the popular term.
I also know, that my surgeon has prescribed lifestyle fitness changes for me. She says that failure to exercise daily and to improve on core strength and muscle building exercises will eventually result in having an unmaintainable weight loss. That exercise is also part of my "diet/lifestyle/exercise" prescription that I'm supposed to "journal."
So there is nothing wrong with being on "A Diet". Every animal has a special diet that allows its species to thrive. As humans, there is no one-size-fits-all diet. They must be tailored to fit our specific needs and to address as many of our sociological and cultural traditions as possible while optimally being health-oriented...
I want to just add: This is the diet that never ends...at least for me. I will never "be done" with it. I will follow some iteration of this diet for life. Hopefully if I am truly successful at this with few deviations, I might actually be able to maintain my losses from the initial honeymoon phase of this WLS diet. [emoji3]
Just sayin...

Ya. My skinny friends all diet every day. - they watch everything they eat. Exercise. Drink juice cleanses. Do Protein Shakes and bars. Only indulge once in a blu moon if at all. Their diet is their lifestyle. And even though they have only needed to lose after baby weight gain- they live by the newest diets and exercise craze ( right now it’s peleton) - WW, Atkins , whole food—. They have done them all. They are just way better at dieting then I was! I consider myself on a diet. Because that’s what it is. So true about ‘mindset’ code word for making good choices. The newest code word is ‘grit’ - for not giving up. Whatever works works. Obviously we are trying to make good choices to that our life changes - hence lifestyle changes. - and dieting gives structure which for me helps with making the right choice or only choice.


HW. 289
SW. 284
Height. 5’8
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29 minutes ago, dreamynow said:


Ya. My skinny friends all diet every day. - they watch everything they eat. Exercise. Drink juice cleanses. Do Protein Shakes and bars. Only indulge once in a blu moon if at all. Their diet is their lifestyle. And even though they have only needed to lose after baby weight gain- they live by the newest diets and exercise craze ( right now it’s peleton) - WW, Atkins , whole food—. They have done them all. They are just way better at dieting then I was! I consider myself on a diet. Because that’s what it is. So true about ‘mindset’ code word for making good choices. The newest code word is ‘grit’ - for not giving up. Whatever works works. Obviously we are trying to make good choices to that our life changes - hence lifestyle changes. - and dieting gives structure which for me helps with making the right choice or only choice.


HW. 289
SW. 284
Height. 5’8

I am all about whatever works!!!!! Because there are so many things that can and a person has to do what works for them!

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This has some helpful information however vegan is a life style not just another diet.

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Newme17

Posted (edited)

On 1/11/2018 at 4:09 PM, Tealael said:

This has some helpful information however vegan is a life style not just another diet.

I do vegan/vegetarian, WFPB, lifestyle. Slowly changed before WLS and have kept at this. It’s nice, easy, healthy, no counting, no journaling, just eat healthy food when hungry. It’s the best lifestyle for me. No dieting about it.

Edited by Newme17
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7 minutes ago, Newme17 said:

I do vegan/vegetarian, WFPB, lifestyle. Slowly changed before WLS and have kept at this. It’s nice, easy, healthy, no counting, no journaling, just eat healthy food when hungry. It’s the best lifestyle for me. No dieting about it.

Nice, are you still Protein oriented like most surgeons want or do you not focus on that. I know vegan lifestyle and wls is tough...

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On 1/11/2018 at 5:09 PM, Tealael said:

This has some helpful information however vegan is a life style not just another diet.

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