Is Fast Food Ever OK After Bariatric Surgery?
When we think of dieting, the last thing we think of is fast food. And there is good reason to support that. Fast food has traditionally been loaded with fat, carbs, sugar, and just about anything that you would consider to be diet unfriendly. Is it really that bad though, and is there a place for it in the postoperative diet?
The answer is…
While we would hope each and every one of our patients would cook their own food, measure their nutritional intake very carefully, and avoid unhealthy foods at all times, it just isn’t practical. Moderation is key. There are times where fast food can actually be helpful. This is most true when patients have a long or rushed day and may be tempted to skip a meal. Skipping that meal may actually be more nutritionally damaging then having a “healthier” fast food option. Each fast-food outlet has one or more meals that are high in protein and lower in saturated fats and sugars. These usually include grilled chicken, salads, or lean meats. Sure, it may have a whole bunch of sodium, but in a pinch, it can be a suitable option, especially when the alternative often leads to overeating at lunch, which could cost a whole lot more calories.
With that being said, this article is not an endorsement of fast food, even though modern fast-food restaurants have made huge strides in providing fresh, or at least “better,” food. Instead, we just want to offer you options when there seemingly are none other than skipping a meal.
Is “Healthy” Really Healthy?
Remember just because fast food may have some greens in it, or is marketed as relatively healthier than others, it doesn’t mean it is truly healthy for you. It’s really important you take a look at the nutritional information virtually every fast-food restaurant has posted on their website or on the wall in store. Find the option that is least damaging to your post-bariatric surgery lifestyle. In addition, avoid the ancillary foods that can be even worse than the fast-food entrée itself. Sodas, french fries, other fried sides and even salad dressings can all contain tons of fat, sugar and ultimately calories. Pay particular attention to the %DV which shows the how much of your daily limit the item will gobble up.
So, Can Fast Food Ever Be Beneficial?
You may have seen the dueling news and even movies about fast food. One shows the protagonist eating fast food every single day and the horrific effects it had on his health. This is certainly what we expect if someone told us they were eating fast food for each meal.
But then, articles and videos refuting this premise were released, showing how others eat fast food exclusively and manage to lose weight. So, who’s telling the truth? Well, the truth is somewhere in between. If managed properly, and sticking to normal caloric intake, one could maintain or even lose weight eating only fast food. On the other hand, with no regard for calories or nutrition, daily fast food could cause severe health effects including heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
This is a great illustration of the most important principle of the postoperative bariatric diet – moderation. It shows that in moderation, patients can lose the weight, slowly but surely, even if they have a few bad days along the way.
Regardless, this raises the larger issue of how we eat as a society. Fast food is a representation of how we need to do more to take care of our bodies and minds. While convenient and easily fitting into our hectic lives, fast food does us few favors. On the other hand, cooking and eating at home can offer a great sense of accomplishment, an opportunity to wind down after a long day, and bring us closer to our families. This, while saving money to boot!
Gastric bypass patients should be particularly aware of fast food; however, even seemingly healthier meals may cause dumping syndrome because of the significant amount of fat, and sugar. As always, the more you know, the better prepared you’ll be.
So, as with anything, even the bad stuff does not necessarily have to be destructive to our diets. But why introduce processed, nutrient-less, and, quite frankly, harmful foods into our systems even if it is in moderation?