Just because you have to work hard to make the most of your vertical sleeve gastrectomy doesn’t mean you can’t get a little help along the way. Your gastric sleeve diet and exercise routine will determine your outcome, and a boost from modern technology can make these everyday musts easier and more rewarding. There are tons of gadgets and tools available today, but here’s a short list of some of my—and my patients’—favorites.
- Spiralizer. Pasta is, at best, a once-in-a-while food after vertical sleeve gastrectomy. Whole grain is better than white, of course, but there are still a ton of carbs even in whole wheat pasta. With a spiralizer, you can satisfy some of those pasta cravings with low-carb veggies instead. Most often used with produce such as zucchini, cucumbers, carrots, and squash, it can turn these staples into “noodles” to serve as a base for healthy sauces.
- Digital food scale. With a smaller stomach, gastric sleeve patients shouldn’t have more than four to five ounces of a food at a time. That’s an especially important barometer in the beginning of your VSG journey. To ensure you’re not putting too much into your new stomach, I highly recommend a food scale. When you add more food to your post-op diet, you can also use the scale to ensure your eyes aren’t too big for your plate. Even the healthiest foods can be calorie bombs if you eat too much of them. Erica, for example, says she uses her digital food scale to portion out her chicken, as well as slightly less healthy choices. “I also use it to weigh stuff like pork rinds so I only eat half an ounce,” she confesses.
- Air fryer. Speaking of indulgences, fried food can be one of the hardest pre-VSG diet killers for patients to give up. Enter the air fryer. These modern marvels use a small fraction of the oil that traditional fryers do, making it possible to satisfy comfort food cravings. This shouldn’t be a daily thing, of course, but it’s not going to wreck your program to air fry pieces of chicken, shrimp, non-starchy vegetables, and even legumes like chickpeas once in a while.
- Food storage containers.Meal prep is a way of life for many VSG patients. You can control everything from portion size to the nutrients in your gastric sleeve diet. It can also keep food costs down. Because meal prep is such a huge key to staying on track, it’s worth it to invest in food storage containers that work for your life. Buy sets for one-bowl meals, bento boxes for when you want to keep foods separate, and salad containers that isolate the dressing from the greens and other ingredients until you’re ready to mix them.
- Flavor infuser water bottle. You’re going to be drinking a lot of water, and everyone has their own way to get those ounces in. Any water bottle that gets you drinking is the one for you, but I love a bottle that allows you to infuse produce like cucumber, lemon, or lime right into your water. It’s a calorie-free (and non-carbonated) way to keep your sipping more interesting.
- Weight loss tracker and/or app. Not as expensive as you might think, especially for the app-only options, these gadgets are indispensable for tracking the calories you’ve eaten, the steps you’ve taken, the calories you’ve burned from a workout, as well as the nutrients you’ve ingested. Some favorites include Baritastic, Fitbit, and MyFitnessPal, with each offering different features. Note: Our own Brandi Carter helped get Endobariatric into the Baritastic app, which can be found on the App Store or Google Play. My patient, Chinua, likes Fitbit, in part because of the challenges in which friends can invite you to participate. “I had (a) friend add me and she started a challenge, and it motivated me to get 14,000 steps in yesterday,” she says. “I’ve never done that before, but I refused to let her beat me!” Whatever gets you moving is okay by me!
You can have great success after gastric sleeve surgery with just the information Endobariatric provides and your own determination. But it’s worth looking into a few helpful tools and gadgets that support your goals as you improve your health and transform your life.
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