New Jersey Bariatric Center
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Eating Healthy After Surgery When Your Family Doesn't Want To

By Karen Kelly, R.D. | September 30, 2020

You’ve worked so hard since your surgery, and the numbers on the scale are decreasing. You’re feeling great -  then BAM, your spouse walks in with a box of donuts for the two of you, your mother is insistent that you eat some of her pasta or a friend says you’re no fun anymore because you’re not interested in going out for a slice of pizza and a few drinks. If it  feels like your friends and family aren’t being supportive of your weight loss journey. You’re not alone. This happens to many people who are on a weight loss journey. Trying to maintain healthy eating habits can be difficult if you’re around others who don’t share the same mindset. The question is how do you handle it?

First, it’s important to understand that most of the time, the actions of your family and friends may not be intentional. While you are ready to make a healthy lifestyle change, your loved ones may not be. Food is very social and a bonding activity in our culture. They might miss the times you spent baking cookies or indulging in something unhealthy like burgers or ice cream with them..  

Here are a few tips to try to make this transition smoother for you and your loved ones:

  1. Talk to your spouse/ parent/ friend.  Explain to them that you do indeed love them, but seeing all this food is breaking down your willpower and you have come so far and don’t want a set back now. Ask them directly not to “push” food on you, or give you food as a gift. Suggest instead things you could do together that don’t involve food - such as a walk, a movie or just some quality time doing something non-food related that you enjoy. Ensure them that YOU made a decision for your health and that you need their support.
  2. Hide trigger foods. If you find that your family member keeps bringing your trigger foods into the house for THEM to enjoy, try hiding it. The old saying “out of sight, out of mind”  rings true here. If the temptation is not out in the open, you will be less likely to want to indulge. 
  3. Share some of your new found nutrition knowledge. When cooking with a partner try to offer healthier substitutions so you can both benefit. Swap cauliflower rice for regular rice or plain yogurt for mayonnaise. Check out our blog for many delicious and family friendly recipes
  4. Remember sometimes you need to agree to disagree. Your loved ones may need a little more time to adjust to the new healthier you. Patience is key.  
  5. Remember why you started. If you feel like giving in and reverting to old eating habits, it’s always good to remember why you started the weight loss  journey and how much progress you have made. Was it because of health reasons? Your children? Better self image? Remember your why.
  6. Meal plan together. Sometimes when family members are resistant to eating healthy it can become overwhelming at meal times. For your family, start small.  Make one change at a time, switch out regular sausage for chicken sausage, or ground  beef tacos for turkey tacos.  Involve your children or spouse in the planning of a week's meals. Make meal times less about your weight loss goals and more about getting the whole family to eat healthier.  

At New Jersey Bariatric Center there’s an entire team of surgeons, physician assistants and dietitians all rooting for your success. Take advantage of our support groups and speak with others who are on the same path and for support and encouragement to keep going. Join our Facebook group to connect with like-minded patients who can help support you when you are left frustrated by roadblocks put in your way.  Keep doing what you know is best for your health, no one else can take care of you like you can! 

Karen Kelly, RD, is a registered dietitian at New Jersey Bariatric Center, a medical & surgical weight loss center with offices in Springfield, Somerville, Hoboken, East Brunswick, Sparta and Totowa, New Jersey. She provides pre-operative and post-operative nutritional counseling to New Jersey Bariatric Center’s Gastric Bypass, Gastric Sleeve, LAP-BAND (gastric band) and revision patients, in addition to dietary counseling for patients in our Medical Weight Loss program.
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