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Healthy versions of junk food



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I'm interested in people's thoughts about healthy versions of junk food -- e.g., Protein chips, protein Cookies, protein cheese puffs... I'm especially interested in hearing from WLS veterans who have successfully kept the weight off for years. Do you eat these things, and if so, where do you draw the line?

I can see these things in two different ways: (1) they'll help me reach my weight loss goals by allowing me to feel less deprived while staying on my plan, or (2) they're dangerous gateway foods that will lead me back into bad eating habits and derail my progress.

I try to eat "real" foods most of the time -- meat, eggs, veggies, fruit, low-fat dairy, Beans -- although I usually eat a Protein Bar for lunch at work (and you can pry my Built Bars from my cold, dead hands!), but sometimes it's nice to eat something reminiscent of the foods I can/should no longer eat. I bought some Quest protein chips, and they're kind of amazing. I use them for protein nachos or crushed as a salad topping to add a little extra protein. The macros are similar (if not a little better) than a protein bar, so I once ate a whole bag as a meal, but it felt kind of wrong.

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If you have not reached goal you may be asking for trouble. Watch out for the daily Protein Bar some WLS patients get addicted to them like candy. They are loaded with calories. I see you are only 4 months out these foods you are considering are dangerous in their own right and in my opinion you would be best to eat them only on occasion until you reach your goal. Just because they say its good for you doesnt mean it is. Good luck !

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I am 2 years post-op and I have never liked food, so sweets were my downfall and continue to be my go-to snack. So I rely heavily on Protein Bars, Keto bars, sugar-free Snacks, etc. to satisfy my need for sweets. It hasn't added pounds to me. It works out well for me.

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4 minutes ago, Tracyringo said:

If you have not reached goal you may be asking for trouble. Watch out for the daily Protein Bar some WLS patients get addicted to them like candy. They are loaded with calories. I see you are only 4 months out these foods you are considering are dangerous in their own right and in my opinion you would be best to eat them only on occasion until you reach your goal. Just because they say its good for you doesnt mean it is. Good luck !

I am very picky about the Protein Bars I eat. I love Built Bars not only because they are amazingly delicious, but they are also fairly low in calories (130 to 180 calories) with 17-19 grams of Protein and 5 grams of sugar or less.

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I eat those kinds of things occasionally, but not as a regular thing. I'm afraid they'd get my mind craving the real thing.

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13 minutes ago, BigSue said:

I am very picky about the Protein Bars I eat. I love Built Bars not only because they are amazingly delicious, but they are also fairly low in calories (130 to 180 calories) with 17-19 grams of Protein and 5 grams of sugar or less.

I love them too. I don’t eat them everyday, but I do eat several per week. Sometimes I just take a couple of bites of one after a workout and save the rest for another day. As for your original topic question, I don’t really see Protein versions of junk foods as “gateway” foods. That might be because I usually find them to not be satisfying. I would rather just do without. If they are satisfying to you, I think eating them in moderation is the key. It seems like a bad idea to replace “real” foods with protein snack foods on a consistent basis, IMO.

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4 hours ago, BigSue said:

I'm interested in people's thoughts about healthy versions of junk food -- e.g., Protein chips, Protein Cookies, protein cheese puffs... I'm especially interested in hearing from WLS veterans who have successfully kept the weight off for years. Do you eat these things, and if so, where do you draw the line?

I can see these things in two different ways: (1) they'll help me reach my weight loss goals by allowing me to feel less deprived while staying on my plan, or (2) they're dangerous gateway foods that will lead me back into bad eating habits and derail my progress.

I try to eat "real" foods most of the time -- meat, eggs, veggies, fruit, low-fat dairy, Beans -- although I usually eat a Protein Bar for lunch at work (and you can pry my Built Bars from my cold, dead hands!), but sometimes it's nice to eat something reminiscent of the foods I can/should no longer eat. I bought some Quest protein chips, and they're kind of amazing. I use them for protein nachos or crushed as a salad topping to add a little extra protein. The macros are similar (if not a little better) than a Protein Bar, so I once ate a whole bag as a meal, but it felt kind of wrong.

Bottom line is if YOU are happy with your rate of weight loss (and ur labs some back satisfactorily) then u don’t need to change anything, really.

You know yourself best and can tell more than us strangers if this is a slippery slope or not. Some can handle it and keep it in check, others may have more difficulty, and should consider refraining.

P.S. I ate almost 2 cups of mushroom “chips” for dinner the other day, so yeah, it happens, lol. BUT: I’m 2+ years out and in maintenance for over 1.5 years.

Good Luck!

Edited to add: oh, and to answer your original question: no, I didn’t eat these types of food during weight loss phase.

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5 hours ago, BigSue said:

I'm interested in people's thoughts about healthy versions of junk food -- e.g., Protein chips, Protein Cookies, protein cheese puffs... I'm especially interested in hearing from WLS veterans who have successfully kept the weight off for years. Do you eat these things, and if so, where do you draw the line?

I don't think the foods you've listed are healthier. They might have less calories sometimes (sometimes not) and they add protein so you don't have to plan your meals as much (I'm still using protein foods like bean Pasta, powders, bars etc. to boost my protein intake), but most of the foods are not healthier than the original version. There might be exceptions.

That said, one needs to differ between "healthier foods" and "foods that might help with weight loss" as these are by far not always the same.

My take on e. g. a protein Cookies is: "I would've eaten a cookie anyway, might as well eat a protein cookie if it's yummy as well."

Same with cake: when I make a cake, I put Protein Powder into the flour (I've posted my apple crumble cake a few times already). I prefer it over "real apple crumble cake" just as I prefer bean pasta over regular pasta so it feels like a win-win situation. Is it really healthier? Well, I don't mind the stevia in the protein powder, some people would though.

Protein chips can be nice or nasty. The nice ones usually seem to be sold out, lol. I usually go for roasted chick peas instead.

Quote

I can see these things in two different ways: (1) they'll help me reach my weight loss goals by allowing me to feel less deprived while staying on my plan, or (2) they're dangerous gateway foods that will lead me back into bad eating habits and derail my progress.

That's a question only you can answer.

For me, being able to have all these things and being able to eat what I like seems to be a huge factor in not gaining weight.

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I'm a big fan of "healthy" junk foods IN MODERATION. However, I didn't start eating them until I was in maintenance.

A couple of words of advice. First, you need to be sure that any such products you eat are high Protein, low carb and low sugar. There are lots of Protein Bars out there that claim to be healthy but are very high in carbs and sugar.

Also, these Snacks can be a slippery slope. Since they are high protein and low carb, we tend to see them as "safe" foods and there is a temptation to over-indulge. They are definitely better than traditional junk food, but calories are calories regardless of how they are ingested.

My advice: wait until you are in maintenance and enjoy on an occasional basis to satisfy cravings, but don't make them a habit.

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I agree with Ms. Sss: you have to be happy with your food choices & find what works for you & your lifestyle.

I did a bit of comparative shopping to find a Protein Bar that had an acceptable level of calories, Protein, fats, sugar & taste for me. I have one most nights to get me to my protein goal.

Personally I didn’t eat any ‘healthy’ junk food alternatives during weight loss & I still don’t. For me they could be a temptation to slip: oh they don’t have any protein chips but I’m sure ordinary chips will be ok this time. Danger! Danger! Will Robinson. I avoid cakes, sweet biscuits & Desserts too for the same reason.

My weakness is eating whole grain rice crackers - still not the best. I eat about 6 a couple of times a week though some weeks I have none. Handy though when socialising with friends: perfect for that wedge of brie. 😁

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I stay away from processed foods, period. The nutritional value is not great, and after a while, you really don't even want that stuff. The longer you eat healthier foods, the more your body craves healthy food, and the processed stuff just doesn't have the same appeal. Realize that processed foods are engineered to keep you coming back. They often appeal to our genetically programed survival taste preferences for sweet, salty, and fat. Food manufacturers know how to manipulate these to get your brain to release dopamine as a pleasure sensation. The release of dopamine and serotonin is the key to addiction to anything, and processed food plays to this. WLS is such a gift. We owe it to ourselves to make every bite as nutritionally dense as possible and to train our brains away from unhealthy choices. You can actually get a release of pleasure chemicals by making a choice for a healthy snack instead of a junkier one - once you train your brain to be happy with a delectable piece of fruit rather than a processed quick fix.

I admit that I am always a little worried for folks who ask about going back to unhealthy choices for fear of feeling deprived. This seems like a bit of compromising justification, and is what got us in trouble in the first place. An alcoholic is destined for relapse if they think they can go back to drinking in moderation. Sobriety cannot be compromised. A food addict is playing with fire if they think they can eat addictive foods in moderation. Why even mess around with that? Why not retrain your brain to love the good stuff instead? WLS gives us the tool, but we have to relearn how to eat and how to be happy about healthy food. Personally, I made the decision that I AM NEVER GOING BACK. I am NOT going to regain after all this hard work, and I am NOT going back to the unhealthy eating habits that made me obese. For me, that means I am NOT going back to processed foods in any way, shape, or form. It's just not worth it. A beautiful honey crisp apple is so much better than a bag or bar.

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Echoing other posters, I have all of the "healthy/protein junk food" in moderation (right along with occasional regular junk foods if we're being honest but I'm 3 yrs out of my original WLS 💁🏾‍♀️)

They're easy for times when I'm not home and still want to control my food narrative instead of eating whatever I can find. They also tend to be sliders so there is that element to factor in but work the plan that will get you to your goals.

Edited by GreenTealael

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On 11/27/2020 at 3:59 AM, Arabesque said:

I agree with Ms. Sss: you have to be happy with your food choices & find what works for you & your lifestyle.

This.

Abstinence doesn't work for everyone. Neither does moderation. One simply has to try and find out. Depending on what you've been exposed to more mentally by your treatment team and/or fellow patients either IRL or on the web (i. e. either the abstinence or the moderation approach) you might have to muster up a big amount courage and take a leap of faith.

I've seen countless people taking the moderation route who've failed during the years, doesn't matter if we're talking about eating, smoking, drinking, shopping etc.

However, I've also seen countless people who swore off the bad foods or the alcohol, the cigarettes etc. and I've seen many of them relapsing hard.

The approach has to fit the person. Trying the same thing over and over again is ludicrous.

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On 11/26/2020 at 2:49 PM, ms.sss said:

Bottom line is if YOU are happy with your rate of weight loss (and ur labs some back satisfactorily) then u don’t need to change anything, really.

You know yourself best and can tell more than us strangers if this is a slippery slope or not. Some can handle it and keep it in check, others may have more difficulty, and should consider refraining.

P.S. I ate almost 2 cups of mushroom “chips” for dinner the other day, so yeah, it happens, lol. BUT: I’m 2+ years out and in maintenance for over 1.5 years.

Good Luck!

Edited to add: oh, and to answer your original question: no, I didn’t eat these types of food during weight loss phase.

I'm happy with my weight loss so far, but I don't really eat these foods, other than the aforementioned use of a small quantity of Protein chips in meals. I'm really looking more to the future, because I've always been able to be "good" for a short period of time before falling off the wagon. Right now, I think the fear of getting sick is keeping me in line. I still don't know if I get dumping syndrome because I haven't eaten anything that would be likely to cause it. But I know that eventually, I'll be tested, and I'm trying to figure out if these healthy versions of junk food will help me to avoid the bad ones or just lead to more temptation.

The BariatricPal Store really seems to push this stuff. I feel like I'm constantly seeing ads for bariatric-friendly snack and dessert foods.

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On 11/27/2020 at 1:13 AM, AZhiker said:

I stay away from processed foods, period. The nutritional value is not great, and after a while, you really don't even want that stuff. The longer you eat healthier foods, the more your body craves healthy food, and the processed stuff just doesn't have the same appeal. Realize that processed foods are engineered to keep you coming back. They often appeal to our genetically programed survival taste preferences for sweet, salty, and fat. food manufacturers know how to manipulate these to get your brain to release dopamine as a pleasure sensation. The release of dopamine and serotonin is the key to addiction to anything, and processed food plays to this. WLS is such a gift. We owe it to ourselves to make every bite as nutritionally dense as possible and to train our brains away from unhealthy choices. You can actually get a release of pleasure chemicals by making a choice for a healthy snack instead of a junkier one - once you train your brain to be happy with a delectable piece of fruit rather than a processed quick fix.

I admit that I am always a little worried for folks who ask about going back to unhealthy choices for fear of feeling deprived. This seems like a bit of compromising justification, and is what got us in trouble in the first place. An alcoholic is destined for relapse if they think they can go back to drinking in moderation. Sobriety cannot be compromised. A food addict is playing with fire if they think they can eat addictive foods in moderation. Why even mess around with that? Why not retrain your brain to love the good stuff instead? WLS gives us the tool, but we have to relearn how to eat and how to be happy about healthy food. Personally, I made the decision that I AM NEVER GOING BACK. I am NOT going to regain after all this hard work, and I am NOT going back to the unhealthy eating habits that made me obese. For me, that means I am NOT going back to processed foods in any way, shape, or form. It's just not worth it. A beautiful honey crisp apple is so much better than a bag or bar.

Well, I'm not talking about eating Doritos and Oreos in moderation. I'm talking about eating a healthier version of chips and Cookies. I'd happily eat an apple, except that it doesn't have the Protein I need. Right now, I'm struggling to get as much protein in as I'm supposed to, so I look to protein-fortified foods to fill in the gaps. As I said, I eat "real" food for most meals, but it's hard to get 60 grams of protein from meat and dairy alone. I think I'm doing pretty well so far -- I haven't gone off plan once in 4.5 months since surgery (unless you count the 1 net carb tortillas, which are iffy) -- but I have a feeling it will get more difficult as time goes by and I want to be prepared.

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