Why We Don’t Count Calories

On May 6th, 2010, posted in: blog by


So many are used to years and years of dieting and dieting mentality that it’s hard to break those old routines and the old one way of thinking and looking at food and the way we approach it and control it. You can imagine people’s shock and surprise then as we were constantly asked how many calories a day they should stick to and we constantly told them, we don’t count calories, ever. You read that right. We don’t count calories at all. Now I’m sure that one has you scratching your head and wondering, right? Why, if we’ve had weight loss surgery (WLS) and we’re at goal are we not ever going to count calories and how did we get to goal without counting them? Why would we not count them? I mean everything “diet” screams about how we must count them now doesn’t it? But remember, we’re NEVER dieting again!

When we had our surgery, our amazing surgeon really made this one hit home with us a long time ago and I’ll share that with you as well. It was so simple that it clicked with us right away and he was so right and we’ve followed his philosophy every single day with great success. Even more than that, we’ve heard this same shared philosophy from many other surgeons along the way too. So what is it? We know that calories = energy and that too many calories equal weight gain and a caloric deficit means a weight loss. We also know that counting calories = diet and that’s something we’ll NEVER do again! So then WHY do we NOT count calories? Because as our very wise surgeon told us (and many other surgeons since), if we are indeed keeping our portions to the right sizes and reaching for our proteins first and our carbs second and using our 2:1 protein to carb ratio as a rule of thumb, then the caloric intake will keep itself in line and there will be no need to count calories. The key is the right portions. Let me say that one again .. . the right portions for that tiny pouch. We cannot stress enough the benefit of weighing and measuring to get familiar with what true portions look like and feel like in that tiny pouch. Too many people fool themselves into “thinking” they are eating 3 oz. of something when in reality it may be 6 or 8 oz. and they are stretching and stretching what they are putting into their pouch.

Did you know that the area where the staples are placed for Roux-en-Y (RNY) is typically in the thickest part of the stomach wall? That means it takes a considerable amount over a considerable time frame for you to stretch that pouch, but you do see and hear it happening. That’s because of carelessness and assumptions. Why go through major surgery to then assume? If it’s foods you eat on a regular basis, it really doesn’t take a long time to get where you really can recognize true portions, but even at 6.5 yrs post-op, Dan & I still check ourselves too. We don’t want to wake up one day and realize that we had let it slip up a half ounce at a time. Would you? It’s just too simple to weigh and/or measure. There are such great scales available too! We have two that are our favorites. One we keep at home (countertop version) and one that is portable. Of course, looking up nutrition info is fast and easy too, but look it up before you eat it, not after!

Another tip . . . this is a great website where you can enter a full recipe and the servings and it will give you the full nutrition info back immediately too. It’s not like some of the others where you have to look up item by item. This one you enter the full recipe in one box and submit. Fast and simple. http://caloriecount.about.com/cc/recipe_analysis.php?process=resubmit&count=23

As a side note, proteins will stick with you longer and make you feel full longer. Not only that but you hear me say it every single day .. . we need the proteins first and foremost for not only our muscles but our blood cells, bones, immune system and more. You want to steer clear of slider foods. Slider foods are things like soups, puddings, Jell-O, yogurt, crackers, pretzels, popcorn, mashed potatoes, applesauce, that just move quickly through your pouch. You don’t get the satiety from those foods and typically they’re just high in carbs too. That will tend to get started on a grazing pattern, carbs making you crave carbs, and start off a head hunger trend that will frustrate you and start weight gain too. You need the good pairing of your good proteins and your good veggies and/or fruit combination through the day in the right proportions.

So remember, getting back to what we were talking about, you don’t have to count calories but you do have to pay attention to portion sizes. That means weighing and/or measuring so you get a true perspective on what you’re consuming. It doesn’t have to be complicated but it does have to be the right amounts for that tiny pouch and it does have to be the right foods to sustain you and to fit your new needs. We all have to relearn the way we eat after we start this new life. Basic nutrition guidelines aren’t the same for us as post-op patients and we have our own special set of requirements. A little attention now will form the habits you need to carry you through for many years of long term weight loss maintenance success ahead.

-Melissa & Dan

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