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Author: Meghan Collins

Hurricane Preparedness for Bariatric Patients

Hurricane Preparedness for Bariatric Patients

Floridians are veterans at prepping for a hurricane, but if this is your first time prepping for the storm season after your bariatric surgery you’ll probably prep differently than in previous years.  Depending on where you are in your post-op healing, you will need to stock your pantry and prepare meals according to whether your diet consists of mostly pureed, soft solids, or solid foods.   

Hydration will still be essential so devise a way to keep your hydration a priority.  Oftentimes as people shelter or during clean-up it is easy to forget to stay hydrated or replenish after exertion.  Hydration should be consumed via a liquid rather than relied upon through food, however, incorporating liquid in your meal can be part of your plan.  If you suffer from GERD, you may want to keep your liquid consumption separate from your meals.  Tips for GERD

Something to keep in mind is that prepping many pureed or blended foods will need to be done without power.  Having blender bottles, whisks, and manual mixers can make your life easier.  We also recommend monitoring how much sugar and sugar substitutes are being consumed; excess of either can cause a hormone response or gastric upset.

We always recommend that buying items that you will actually consume.  While items like Spam are pantry stable, if you are unlikely to eat it, don’t waste money buying it.  If once the hurricane season is over, you’ll most likely want to consume the items before they expire.

Food & Water Items:

Bottled Water – you’ll want bottled water to drink, cook, and clean with.  We recommend having at least two gallons of water per person in your house for at least five days. 

Low-carb Fluids – Having bottles of unsweet tea and Trop50 can help inspire you to stay hydrated.  They are also easy to carry and mix with. Smaller bottles help keep products sealed until they are consumed and not having excess that need refrigeration keeps precious cooler space free for other items.

Shelf-stable Milks, Broths and Stocks – These items can provide much needed vitamins and minerals, salt and hydration.  Often leftover fluid will need to be refrigerated or stored in a cooler so plan accordingly with size appropriate packages for your situation.  Supplies to make nut milks at home – Homemade nut milk can last 4-5 days.  Having a nut milk bag and bulk nuts in your pantry is an easy way to add vitamins to your smoothies.  DIY Almond Milk

Protein Powders – Having protein powders for smoothies and recipes is important.  Having a variety of flavors can add interest to your days while unflavored powders provide the most versatility.

Pre-Made Protein Shakes – When the power is out or you feel you need a quick meal, pre-packaged protein shakes can be shelf-stable solutions.  They are also easy to transport in cars and to shelters.

Vitamins and Medication – Stock up on your vitamins and medicine to ensure you have enough to get through a week or two while supply chains are normalized

Whole Grain Crackers

Laughing Cow Cheese  – These are portion-controlled and shelf stable.  Unopened wax units do not require refrigeration.

Shelf-stable Hummus and Salsas – Hummus and salsas can add great protein, vitamins and/or fiber to your diet.  You can eat them on their own, with crackers, use the salsa as a marinade or paired with a broth for an instant spicy veggie soup, and so on.

Canned Meats and Jerkies – Canned salmon, tuna, chicken and other meats can be easily consumed when chopped finely.  Jerkies can also be finely chopped even blended and stored as a fine crumble.

Canned Fruits and Vegetables – Low carb fruits and veggies and their liquid can be used in recipes in a variety of ways.  Low carb options are the best option.  Avoid options that contain corn syrup and added sugars.

Dried and Canned Beans – Beans can be a healthy source of protein and protein absorption is important after bariatric surgery.  Beans can be pureed, used in soups, or eaten whole (depending on your post-op stage).  For those not used to preparing dried beans, print out recipes that tell you how to prepare beans safely.  (Printed instructions will be important if power or internet services are unavailable.)

Oatmeal – Oatmeal packages can be purchased or portioned from larger containers.  Oatmeal can add fiber to smoothies, as a meal or mixed with other ingredients.  Avoid oatmeal packets that are filled with sugary ingredients.  Oatmeal can also help hold hydration in your system. 

Protein Bars – Store-bought protein bars are often chock full of sugar and inflammatory ingredients.  Homemade versions can often be created with ingredient control and stored.  Having the items on hand to quickly whip up a batch when the storm alerts begin can ensure your bars are readily available.

Nut Butters – Peanut butter and other nut butters is very versatile as a stand alone or when mixed with other ingredients. Peanut butter packets can be very convenient while in a shelter or traveling. 

Pre-made Sugar-free Jello and Pudding – Having jello and pudding can be a comfort and they add some stabilizing hydration to your system.

Mayonnaise, full-fat dressings, mustards, and other condiments – Condiments can come in single servings and add flavor and fats to your meals.  By stocking up on appropriate items can keep the high-sugar options out of your diet. 

Non-Food Items:


First Aid Kit

Medical Appropriate Items (to provide post-op care) – such as reusable ice bags, pain medication, alcohol wipes, Band-Aids, or other items to care for your incisions

Cooking Resources – such as a manual can opener, bottle opener, filled propane tanks, charcoal, lighter fluid, lighters, battery-powered blenders

Bug repellent, sunscreen, battery-operated fans, and other items that will keep you comfortable and safe during hurricane recovery

Lists of area emergency services/shelters

Battery-powered radios and flashlights


Baby Wipes

Paper Products

Dry shampoo and hygiene products

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Orange Berry Smoothie

Orange Berry Smoothie

Yield: 1 cup     Protein per cup: 22 grams
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
¼ c. vanilla Greek-style yogurt
¼ c. Trop50 orange juice
¼ c. ice
¼ c. frozen raspberries

In a blender, combine the ice, raspberries and orange juice. Mix protein powder into yogurt and spoon into blender. Blend for 10-15 seconds, until smooth.
Experiment with other low-sugar yogurt flavors like peach, key lime, lemon, strawberry and raspberry. Try substituting ¼ c small frozen bananas, blueberries, peaches or blackberries for the raspberries.
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Working Out While Staying Home

Working Out While Staying Home


There are many reasons we may be staying at home these days and, in some areas, the gyms or parks may be closed so we feel our work-outs aren’t achieving what they need to achieve.  Don’t fret – your home is a great place to work out!  Talk with your physician before beginning a physical workout and use common sense as far wearing the right footwear, avoiding slippery flooring, stopping if you feel a sensation of pain, and so on.  You know your body best and can judge what and how often something should be done. 

There are workout opportunities all around your house.  For example, did you know a gallon of water weighs approximately 8.3 pounds?  Do reps with a jug of water at different angles and you’ve given your arms, chest, back and shoulders a nice workout.  Have a step or stairs in your home?  Stand on the ground and use the first riser to step up and step back down.  If you’ve ever taken an aerobics class you know that will get your heart rate going.  Just that one step can help keep your ankles, knees, and hips active and strong.  Use that first step with some arm motion and you’ll be burning calories in no time. 

Make a daily plan for yourself.  It’s important to keep on track and feel like you’ve met your workout goals.  Much like how you would meal prep, you can create an exercise calendar that will help you work out different parts of your body and add recovery days.  There is never really a “break” day per se, as you should make an effort to move every single day.  For example, you may set a goal to walk in place for 5 minutes every hour during work hours or walk around the block before work and after dinner.  Your body loves little adventures and oxygen-rich blood being pumped through it.  It’s also great for your mental well-being, too.

Housework IS a workout.  Don’t underestimate the calories you burn around the house or garden.  Mowing, pulling weeds, vacuuming, dusting, scrubbing surfaces, laundry… it adds up.  They estimate it’s 4 calories per minute of mopping or vacuuming – so in one hour, you’ve burnt through 240 calories!  Plus, you’ll be stretching and giving different muscle groups their chance to shine.  Absolutely budget housework in your exercise plan and you’ll be tackling two goals at once.

Use apps on your phone to help track your progress.  There are pedometer apps and apps like “Map My Walk”, as well as, exercise planners and more.

There are many free and paid workouts to follow along at home.  You can peruse YouTube or download fitness apps for your devices to follow along.  Did you have a favorite class at the gym?  You can find many of those classes online. 

Dance! Throw on some music and dance around the house like you did when you were a teenager.  Set aside 20 minutes to have a dance party and get your blood flowing. 

You can also find inspiration from others’ workout playlists on places like Spotify.  Or create your own.  Having a fun, upbeat song in your head of songs that you love is an easy way to pass the time and keep you moving.  Plus, you can use it in your house or outdoors.

Don’t overdo it.  Working out feels good and sometimes we can start to pull muscles if we get tired or push ourselves too hard.  In your exercise plan take in to account realistic goals for your fitness level.  We know that fun things sound motivating, like the #100squatchallenge on Instagram, but some of us can’t do the challenge for whatever reason.  Create your own challenge, instead of 100 squats, do 10 squats in an hour. Set your goals and feel proud for accomplishing them.   

Find a virtual workout buddy.  Whether you join a group on Facebook or ask a friend to whom you can share your fitness efforts with, there’s a lot of motivation in having to keep accountable.  If you’re not online or want to share, create a visible list that you have to check off every day.  Having this type of reinforcement can be very positive in setting good behaviors for yourself.

If you’re not at home alone, there may be other emotions that come in to play.  You may feel frustrated that the dog is interrupting your downward-facing dog yoga moves or that the only space to work out is in front of the couch where others are constantly watching TV.  You may feel self-conscious.  Know that it’s ok to put the dog in another room while you work out or that telling the family that you need to reserve a room for a while is important and you need to put yourself first.  A half hour is only 2% of the day.  They can give up 2% of their couch time to give you space to improve yourself.  You may even inspire them! Or, you may make it a family/roommate activity so everyone can get some energy out.  It can alleviate stress for the entire group.  But, if they don’t want to join, that’s their decision, and you can’t force them to change, you CAN focus on you.

Being at home has its perks when it comes to working out, too.  For example, that bathroom that you just used calories to clean, is all yours and you don’t have to wear shower shoes.  You should still practice good hygiene and safety by wiping down surfaces that may have been sweated on.  You can absolutely wear the shirt with holes.  You control the music and the room temperature. You don’t have to rush through traffic to fight for a spot in the back of class.  You determine when class starts and ends.  See, there are lots of reasons to love working out at home. Now, stop reading and start moving!

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“I don’t want to die” and Other Reasons for Weight Loss Surgery

“I don’t want to die” and Other Reasons for Weight Loss Surgery

There are many reasons people choose to get have weight loss surgery.  It’s rarely because they didn’t try everything else first.  Most of our patients have done the gamut of self dieting, commercial diet programs like Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig, and doctor-monitored dieting which they couldn’t maintain after.  They’ve exercised, had blood work, sought treatment, and tried.  They’ve tried really hard to manage their weight before exploring weight loss surgery.

When we first meet a potential weight loss surgery candidate, we discuss the holistic program we provide and why it’s important to have support before, during and after the surgery.  Often during the before sessions, patients tell us their reason for seeking bariatric surgery.  “I want energy to live my life and play with my kids/grandkids”, “I take too  many pills”, “I have an illness and losing weight will improve it”, and “I don’t like how I feel in my body and I know I can feel better” are some of the top reasons we hear.  Sometimes the answer is simply “I don’t want to die.”  Statistics about morbid obesity and disease and premature death are unfortunately grave.  We discuss in our online seminar some of the impacts of obesity and how surgery may impact a patient’s lifespan.

“I don’t want to die.”  Those are hard words to say.  Even harder to internalize. The majority of us have a strong sense to survive and facing issues that jeopardize our mortality can be daunting.  We tend to feel invincible until one day we don’t feel that way.  Some patients come to us and they still feel invincible.  Others express that feeling is waning or simply gone, and they turn to bariatric surgery as a tool to recover that feeling.  We hear in our after-surgery support groups how many patients regain their energy, reduce their pain, and find new joy.  The best news is at the one-year check-up when patients tell us that they feel better, their lives have changed in positive ways, and that they feel their own reasons for having the surgery are coming to light.

Choosing to have bariatric surgery is not a small undertaking and there are no guarantees for outcomes, but understanding one’s own reason for taking this path can help make decisions along the way.  Read about other’s weight loss journey here.

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10 Tips to Avoid Stress-Eating

10 Tips to Avoid Stress-Eating

During the day our bodies go through all kinds of stress, and sometimes it seeks comfort in eating, which can easily lead to poor nutrition and consuming too many calories.  Here are some tips to avoid stress eating:

  1. Pause when the urge to eat hits.  Analyze your motivation.  Are you actually hungry?  Has it been a reasonable amount of time since your last meal?  Self-assessing stress, procrastination, boredom and other emotions against your actual need for food is important.
  2. Recognize your body may just want to be hydrated.  During stressful times we may be using a lot of resources that we’re not paying close attention to.  Hydration often gets away from us and our bodies know that many foods can be hydrating so it turns on the hunger hormones in order to get the hydration it wants.  Set a “sip” reminder on your phone to help you quench your thirst.
  3. Take vitamins.  Much like hydration, your body’s vitamins and minerals may not be at optimum levels during times of stress and it can turn to food to replenish.  Soothing your body’s desire for vitamins and minerals with a daily vitamin can quench that demand before it begins.
  4. Use physical signage.  Put a stop sign on your fridge or pantry to help you work through a pause and give yourself time to analyze what you really need.
  5. Keep a list of what you ate on the fridge door and when.  Yes, there are apps that you can use, too, but having a dry erase board on the fridge door to track your consumption keeps it front and center when you next decide to graze or make a meal.
  6. Stop sneaking food.  Sneaking food can be a serious food-centered behavior and it can easily derail you.  For some of us, it’s a real problem and stress can make it seem like even more of a necessity.   This can be a downward spiral into shame-eating and a negative relationship with food.
  7. Stock your pantry well.  You know that sugary foods and drinks can turn on food-craving hormones.  Grazing in the kitchen in general can lead to overindulging in foods.  Don’t be lured into the realm of false sweeteners.  Our bodies don’t fully understand zero-calorie sweeteners and they can still be triggers. Or we can trick ourselves into thinking that we added something “diet” to our meal therefore we can “supersize” something else.
  8. Plan your meal and snack times and diligently maintain your schedule. 
  9. Meal plan your schedule, your hydration and nutrition.  When we’re stressed, we tend to grab what’s easy and often too much of it.  Having a plan and having meal-prepped items in place can give us a sense of control and remove some of the stress of meal preparation. Plan your meals wisely, for example if you know you’re not great at hydrating during the day, make a broth soup as your main dish.  Feel your nutrients or vitamins aren’t up to par?  Choose super foods over low-density foods, like spinach leaf salads instead of romaine. 
  10. Prepare your own food.  We know drive-thrus and work lunches have their appeal, but relying on them frequently adds too many negatives over the short-term positives. 
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