Picky Eaters and Bariatric Surgery
Back to School, Back to Meal Planning: Blog Series Part 4
Check out the blogs we’ve covered so far in this series:
Back to School, Back to Meal Planning (survey results and tips to meal plan faster)
Spoiler alert 🚨 In this series we will also cover batch cooking, cooking for one and stocking your freezer!
Picky eating and bariatric surgery
Some patients already consider themselves a picky eater before they have bariatric surgery. Other patients feel the surgery turned them into a picky eater.
One of my favorite things to do when I start creating a resource for post-op patients is to send a survey. This time around, my survey on picky eating was answered by 40 post-ops.
Picky Eating Survey Results
🍓 Question #1: Were you picky before surgery or are your preferences new since surgery?
55% always picky
45% surgery has changed my preferences
🍓 Question #2: What about food impacts your preferences towards it? (Multiple answers were allowed)
45% how it feels after I eat it
🍓 Question #3: Have you noticed if the way you eat a food changes the experience? (Bite sizes, speed of eating)
60% my bite sizes and speed don’t impact my food preferences
35% yes, if I slow down I can tolerate the food more
32.5% yes, if I take small bites I can tolerate the food more
🍓 Question #4: Check the boxes of the food you would not eat
40% dark meat chicken
37.5% raw veggies
15% salads, leafy grens
12.5% ground beef
12.5% chicken breast
12.5% tomato based sauce
10% cooked veggies
*Other foods written in: tofu, avocado, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, peppers and sardines 😂
🍓 Question #5: What foods do you tend to stick with the most?
This question had a large variety of answers but the most notable was how many post-ops said CHICKEN!
Picky eater mindset (and some tips)
Not only have I been a dietitian for well past a decade, I also have children. Picky eating is not new to me!
In next weeks part two of this blog, I will jump more into questions to ask yourself about specific meals and food experiences.
However, there is a step before that I’d like to stop and focus on. Which is why we are here in part one in the picky eater and bariatric surgery conversation.
Let’s talk about mindset. (Have you noticed this is a buzzword lately? 🐝)
I encourage you not call yourself a picky eater. Why? Because it becomes part of your identity. It can put you into a box even more than necessary if you label yourself as a picky eater.
This is a common conversation with introducing foods to kids who struggle to eat new things. It’s best to not say “you are such a picky eater” but instead use language like “maybe you’ll like it another day.”
If that feels silly to you because you’re an adult and you haven’t liked certain foods your whole life, I understand that too. But consider saying things like “I will be learning what food I like for the rest of my life” instead of “I’ve been picky my whole life.” It’s a mindset shift that might allow you to work through why you don’t like certain foods, which is what we will dig into next week.
Highlight the foods you WILL eat
One strategy I have used for nearly every year I’ve been a dietitian, is to print off my bariatric food list and have the patient highlight every food they are willing to eat in bright pink or orange.
It can feel very limiting and overwhelming to consider all the foods you won’t eat.
I can’t tell you how many overwhelmed patients I have sat with because “all the foods you are telling me to eat are the ones I won’t.”
Some patients feel their picky eating is what led them to struggle with their weight because they only like starchy foods or sweets.
This is another area of mindset shift. Let’s flip the script and talk about what you WILL eat instead of what you will not. Those bright pink or orange words on a paper can help dissipate the feeling that you can’t eat anything!
This can also help when you see recipes on my website and can think about how to swap out the foods you WILL eat for some of the foods you won’t eat.
*The Bariatric Food List is a members resource. Members can access it here!
Mindset shift your picky eating
Next week we will dig deeper into questions to ask yourself about specific foods, meals or feelings you have (physically and mentally) around eating.
Until then, try to reframe your thinking to what you WILL eat and that you aren’t a picky eater…you are learning. You’ll be learning about food the rest of your life.
You know what? Me too! See you next week!