How to Qualify for Bariatric Surgery

How to Qualify for Bariatric Surgery

If you’re considering a surgical procedure for weight loss, you might be curious about how to qualify for bariatric surgery. Doctors consider many factors when recommending different weight loss surgeries to patients. If you have a significant amount of weight to lose and meet certain other criteria, bariatric surgery could be a life-changing decision that helps lead to a healthier, more fulfilling life. In fact, in many cases, it can be a life-saving measure.

Understanding the factors that influence a doctor’s decision to recommend bariatric surgery can help you identify whether you’re a good candidate for a weight loss procedure. If you’ve tried other non-surgical interventions or a number of diets over the years with no luck, then you might be asking yourself, should I get bariatric surgery? We’ll address this and a number of other common questions when considering bariatric surgery.

Top Questions About Bariatric Surgery

Is my weight high enough for me to be considering bariatric surgery?

Most physicians will address this question by looking at your Body Mass Index (BMI), which is a calculation based on the ratio between your height and weight. BMI calculations place people into categories of underweight, normal weight, overweight, and obesity. Candidates for weight loss surgery have BMIs that place them in the obesity category.
The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery lists more specific criteria to qualify for bariatric surgery based on BMI. These benchmarks include:

  • A BMI >40
  • A BMI >35 with accompanying health issues such as high blood pressure, degenerative joint disease, diabetes, sleep apnea, or high cholesterol

In general, people with obesity are at a higher risk of developing associated health conditions that impact or shorten their lives, like heart disease, stroke, respiratory issues, diabetes, and cancer. Bariatric surgery can be an effective intervention to reduce the risk of obesity-related diseases in patients who can’t achieve weight loss by non-surgical methods.

Are there other factors to help me understand how to qualify for bariatric surgery?

In addition to your BMI category, there are other factors you and your doctor may discuss when considering bariatric surgery. Some of these factors include age, past attempts at weight loss, your commitment to lifestyle changes (diet, exercise), and any other medical conditions you might have.

Ideal candidates for bariatric surgery should also be willing to commit to making long-term lifestyle changes post-surgery involving healthy eating habits and regular exercise. A highly trained nutrition team can help with this.

Should I get weight loss surgery?

Each person will need to answer the question, “Should I get weight loss surgery?” for themselves. No one knows you — your past attempts at weight loss, your goals, your expectations — like you do. Weight loss surgery can significantly impact your physical and mental health, so thoughtfully discussing your case with your physician can help you decide whether weight loss surgery is right for you.

What is the difference between weight loss surgery and bariatric surgery?

Weight loss surgery and bariatric surgery are two terms that refer to the same thing. The term “bariatric” means relating to or specializing in the treatment of obesity. Bariatric surgery involves specialized procedures that aim to help patients lose weight. There are many different types of procedures, and each case is unique.

What are my next steps?

To move forward with bariatric surgery, it’s important that you have a clear understanding of the surgery, the risks, prospective outcomes, and whether you’re a good candidate. The best way to establish this is to schedule a consultation with a specialist who can address your particular medical history, diet and weight history, risk factors, and options. Your surgeon will take the time to answer all your questions and help prepare you for any further steps along the way.

The Barix Team is Here for You

At Barix Clinics, we have an entire team of experts dedicated to helping you. If you’re considering bariatric surgery, the next step is to schedule a consultation to get all of your questions answered and visit our BMI calculation page. Here you can find your BMI for yourself as well as other helpful information and guidance on how you can continue this journey toward a healthier life.

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Food Prep to Eat Better and Simplify Your Life

Do you have room for improvement when it comes to healthy eating? If so, food prep may help get you there. Start small, learn the ropes, and you’ll be a pro in no time.

There are lots of ways to work ahead to minimize your daily meal prep effort. Use these ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

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  • Make-ahead meals. Prepare and cook complete meals, then store in bulk to reheat.
  • Put single-serving snack, lunch, or dinner portions in containers for grab-and-go convenience.
  • Meals for one. Prepare and portion entire meals into single-serving containers.
  • Assemble meals (don’t cook), refrigerate or freeze to cook later.
  • Ingredient prep. Chop vegetables, marinate meat, and portion out spices to minimize daily cooking time.
  • Cook once and make several different meals. Lean ground beef can be spaghetti sauce Monday night, tacos on Tuesday, and chili on Wednesday.

The benefits to food preparation are numerous:

  • It puts you in control of the foods you cook. You can limit salt, added sugars, and saturated fat and serve right-sized portions.
  • You’ll save money. Preparing food at home minimizes more costly meals out. By planning and prepping, you will waste less food.
  • You’ll save time. There’s no need to wait in a drive-thru line. Cooking is a breeze when you’ve planned and prepped.
  • You’ll be less stressed. One less thing on your plate – tell me that doesn’t sound good?
  • You’ll eat better. Having healthy foods readily available makes it easy to make a good choice. After all, we all tend to do what is easiest at the moment.
  • It appears that all of this healthy home eating is good for the entire family. Teens that eat at home with their families are less likely to smoke, drink, or use drugs. They also get higher grades and have better-eating habits as adults. Younger children are more likely to eat fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Woman making tasty vegetarian lunch, close up

How to start:

To garner the benefits of food prep, start with a meal plan, a shopping list, food storage containers, and a couple of hours each week.

It can be overwhelming to go from winging it to planning all your meals and snacks. You may want to start with one meal first. You’ll undoubtedly get benefits by taking this first step and then building on your successes. Keeping it simple will also help. Repeat meals, use tried-and-true recipes or simple recipes without many ingredients.

Step 1: Meal Planning

Pencil in meals on your calendar (or find an app to use), gather recipes and make a list of ingredients needed week-by-week for an entire month. You may want to use the Barix Clinics Meal Planning Guidelines to make a meal plan. Once you do this, it is easy to tweak from month to month to accommodate seasonal foods and add variety.

Step 2: Stock up on Food Storage Containers

Food storage containers come in various sizes, shapes, and materials. Find the right containers for your food prep style.

  • The sizes you select will depend on your needs.
  • Are you prepping meals for one or a large family?
  • Do you plan to portion out snacks or buy single-serving containers?
  • What shapes do you want? Round containers work well for soups. Rectangle containers fit more compactly into the fridge or freezer.
  • If you have limited storage spaces, look for empty containers that nest for storage?
  • Some food prep containers come with dividers to keep foods separate.
  • Food storage containers are typically made of plastic or glass. Plastic containers are lighter and don’t break easily. They are not typically recommended for the microwave. If you are going with glass, ensure the containers are freezer and microwave safe. Containers should have leak-proof lids.
  • Food storage bags can be a good option. They work great if you like to buy in bulk and then portion nuts and other snack foods into single servings. Freezer bags are thicker and help to keep frozen foods fresh longer.
  • Vacuum sealed. Food exposed to air oxidizes and does not stay fresh. A vacuum sealer removes air, creates a tight seal, and keeps foods fresh longer. Both bags and containers come in vacuum seal versions. Bags are typically not reusable; containers are.

Step 3: Grocery Shop

Once you have a meal plan in place, it’s easy to put together a shopping list. With a list in tow, you can minimize impulse buying. Ordering online for pick-up or delivery can also help you stick to your grocery list.

Step 4: Weekly Meal Prep

You have a plan, containers, and groceries. Now it’s time to prep. Make it fun by cranking up the tunes and enlisting the help of family or friends.

You don’t have to make an entire week’s worth of meals at one time. Instead, you may want to do an extensive prep on the weekend and a smaller prep halfway through the week. Most foods keep safely in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.

If you want to start slower, chop vegetables and cook a batch of chicken in the slow cooker. Even these simple steps will ease your work week load.

If you decide to go all-out, you can:

  • Pre-cook breakfast for the week (egg bites or protein pancakes, for example)
  • Portion out (but not assemble) deli meat, bread, and toppings for lunch sandwiches
  • Portion out snacks, and prepare dinners to reheat

Once you get in the groove, meal prep is definitely doable. Start big or start small – just start.

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How to Become a Successful Food Tracker

Food tracking is a 15-minute a day proven tool for weight loss and maintenance. Those who track daily get the best results.

If you have the best intentions but struggle to track regularly, you’re not alone. Here are some common barriers to consistent food tracking and ideas for overcoming them.

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One

 You don’t have time.

It takes about 15 minutes a day to track your food intake. You can do it while waiting for an appointment, riding in the car, watching TV, or talking on the phone.

Two

You start strong but quickly lose interest.

Be specific about what you’re tracking. If you’re not sure what your goals are, you won’t know if you’re meeting them or not. You’ll soon lose interest.

In addition to tracking protein and calories, you may want to set short-term goals. For example, if you find you’re skipping breakfast, a plan may be to drink a protein drink on your way to work. Once you get that habit in place, you may decide to track something else.

Three 

Highly processed food is easy to track. Home-cooked food is more challenging.

  • Select a similar item from the app’s list.
  • Calculate the nutrition information in your recipe. If it’s one you use a lot, it may be worth the time. There are a lot of free sites that will do this online. MyFitnessPal also has this feature.
  • If you don’t have time at the moment to figure out the nutrition info on a meal, take a picture and go back later when you have a few minutes.
  • Don’t expect perfection. You will become more accurate with more practice. You’ll also find that tracking gets easier over time.

Four 

You forget.

Put reminders in place until tracking becomes more automatic. You may set the alarm on your phone, put notes in conspicuous places (in the refrigerator, on your desk, in your lunch box, etc.).

Get in the habit of tracking before you bite. Go back and adjust the amount if you eat less (or more) than you intended to.

Five

You aren’t making the best food (or drink) choices and are embarrassed to write them down.

Rather than giving up, be kind to yourself. Try to take the emotion out of it and learn from the data you are gathering. Look at the numbers and plan to correct course and get back on track. Consistently tracking, even on the “bad” days, will help you reach your goals.

You don’t need to track forever. Once you get into a sound eating routine and your weight is stable, you may be able to back off. Just pick your tracker back up again if you have a significant change. A new job, a new family member, an injury, or training for a running event can throw your eating plan out of balance.

 

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Will Food and Exercise Tracking Actually Help Me Reach My Goals?

The odds are in your favor. Studies have shown that people who track their food intake and exercise are more likely to lose weight and keep it off. It provides priceless insight into current habits, areas for improvement and helps achieve progress over time. This is why it works:

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Tracking brings awareness.

Most of us do a lot of mindless munching. Without monitoring, it is difficult to recall what we ate even the previous day – go ahead…try it right now. Do you know how many days you reached your step goal in the last month or made it to the gym? It’s easy to see how tracking helps keep us aware of what we eat and how much we move.

Understanding.

We often select foods that we think are “pretty healthy,” only to discover they are higher in calories or added sugar than we realized. Tracking gives us a better understanding of the nutrition content of individual foods and how those can work together to help reach specific goals.

Control.

Tracking may provide a “pause button,” enabling us to make more deliberate food choices. When confronted with tempting, highly processed food, it can be easier to select a more rational option to meet your goals. Food choices become based on taste, availability, and how they will impact the goals you’ve set up.

Measurements.

Tracking gives you actual numbers to work with. Calories, protein, number of steps, vegetable servings, water intake, consistency of supplements, whichever numbers are essential to you, tracking gives them to you. In place of a vague, “my portions seem to be larger,” you’ll have concrete numbers to work with.

Real Numbers.

The nutritionists have calculations that can estimate calorie needs, but each person has an individual caloric requirement. It can vary based on:

  • The number of diets previously attempted – the cycle of weight loss followed by weight gain often leads to a change in body composition and a lowered metabolic rate.
  • The amount of movement in a day – this includes intentional exercise and activities of daily living.
  • Other factors, such as age, genetic, medical conditions, and medications.

Accountability.

During times of stress, you may resort to more highly processed foods and foods with added sugar. Calories may creep up. Tracking allows you to see how shifts in your intake and lifestyle over time impact your weight and may help you get back on track sooner.

Reality Check.

A portion of almonds is 24 nuts, but if you’ve allotted 100 calories for a snack, 15 nuts are your personal portion size. Even after weight loss surgery, portion distortion is a real thing. Food packaging, restaurant meal size, and societal norms require that we stay vigilant to keep portions small.

Motivation. 

Tracking steps, squats, the number of yoga classes, or any other exercise goal gives you a sense of accomplishment and encourages you to do more. Ditto with hitting food goals – the more milestones you reach, the more motivated you become to keep going.

Use these tips to establish a successful tracking habit if you’re ready to give tracking a chance.

What to Track 

First things first, decide what to track. You’ll want to be sure to record the information that is most helpful to you personally.

Fitness app concept on touchscreen. Mobile phone and tracker on the wrist. Icons for web: fitness healthy food and metrics. Flat style vector illustration.

  • Food intake should include a minimum of calories, protein, and ounces of fluid. You could also record feelings, level of hunger, servings of vegetables, fiber, time of meals/snacks, or other essential factors.
  • Exercise logging should minimally include a measurement such as steps per day, minutes of aerobic exercise, or the number of classes. It could also include the amount of weight and reps used for strength training exercises, the number of sit-ups, etc.
  • Food and emotions can be tightly intertwined. Learning to “feel through” emotional situations rather than numbing with food is an important skill to develop. Recording your feelings can help you to identify some of the emotions that you’re experiencing. For example, if you feel that you really need some chocolate, ask yourself what you are feeling at the moment. You may find stress, anger, loneliness, sadness, joy, or other feelings that may best be resolved in another way.
  • Full-length pictures help document your weight loss journey and can often capture the changes occurring before you do.
  • Weight is significant to track; just don’t become a slave to the scale. Once a week or at the most, once a day will help document your loss.
  • Measurements of arms, waist, thighs, and hips can often change even when the scale is stuck and provide motivation during a plateau. You can also include:
  • The number of medications you have been able to discontinue
  • Improvements in blood sugar levels,
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Your energy level (on a scale of 1-10)

How to Track

Next, find a format that works for you. Are you a pad of paper and pen tracker? There’s nothing wrong with that—sometimes the simpler, the better. Some prefer a little more structure in the way of a spreadsheet or log form. Free websites or apps are available, and many find these easy to use. These may have the advantage of syncing with your fitness tracker.

How often will you update your tracker? There are undoubtedly several options, and it’s crucial to find the one that works best for you. No matter what frequency you select, it’s important to record everything you eat, even those splurges you’d rather not record.

  • One option is to plan and record your meals and snacks a week in advance. Update any variances daily. An advantage to this method is that you can have the nutrition information in advance, allowing you to make adjustments to the plan that better meet your nutrition goals. You can also schedule exercise for your week.
  • You may want to update your tracker daily—setting up an end-of-day routine to record your intake and exercise. This works well for those who are reasonably routine and have good memories. Keep in mind that it’s not easy for many of us to remember every bite throughout the day, so you may sacrifice some level of accuracy by using this method.
  • Recording as you go works well for many people. Right before or after eating, record intake and track exercise as you go. This method allows for adjustments throughout the day based upon intake and output so far. It is also the most accurate way to record food intake.

Tips for Tracking

Be accurate with portions. Measure portions regularly at first and then on occasion. The tendency is to underestimate portion size, and that can skew food tracking significantly.

Include the extras. The mayo on your sandwich, the cube of cheese, a handful of nuts—all adds up. Even 100 extra calories a day can slow weight loss or start weight gain.

Don’t feel the need to be perfect. There is no perfect eating and exercise plan. Don’t let the fear of not being good enough stop you from starting tracking. If you slip up, pick up where you left off.

It gets easier over time. There can be a bit of a learning curve to tracking, but the more you do it, the easier it gets. Once you have it set up and have formed a habit, you’ll find that it takes very little time – about 15 minutes a day.

Something is better than nothing. If you can track food and exercise right off the bat, start with one. If you can just spot-check your progress once a week, start there. Establishing a tracking discipline and seeing the benefits can inspire you to expand your efforts.

Review, Reflect and Adjust

Take time once a week to review your logs—reflection is an important piece. If you’re unsure what you should or could do differently, don’t hesitate to share your record with your Barix Nutritionist for feedback.

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You’re Just One Step Away From Feeling Happier

Modest amounts of exercise, like daily walks, can be a powerful tool that reduces depression and anxiety, improves energy, and helps you feel happier. Exercise improves physical health and is vital for maintaining a healthy weight, for sure. Though, those who exercise regularly are generally motivated by the almost immediate rewards and the enormous sense of well-being it produces. In return for their efforts, they gain a higher level of energy, better sleep, a sharp mind, and more positive and calming feelings.

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How Does It Work?

What we know about how exercise helps improve mood and well-being:

  • Exercise increases serotonin, regulating mood, sleep, and appetite.
  • It reduces immune system chemicals that can make depression worse.
  • Exercise increases the level of endorphins – natural mood lifters.

Return on Your Investment

We all have only a finite amount of time. When you invest a portion of your time and energy into regular exercise, you can expect to reap these rewards:

  • Better concentration and clear thinking. Exercise stimulates the grown of new brain cells, prevents age-related decline, improves concentration, and sharpens mental focus.
  • Feel strong and powerful. As you invest in your health and well-being, a sense of accomplishment fosters feelings of body acceptance, self-worth, and confidence.
  • Sleep improvements. Even smaller amounts of exercise help establish healthy sleeping patterns, protect the brain from damage, and improve energy and focus.
  • Less Stress. Exercise reduces stress on the body and helps feelings of anxiety be replaced with a sense of calm.
  • Fewer Worries. Exercise provides a distraction from worries and helps break the cycle of negative thoughts that can fuel anxiety and depression.
  • Better Coping. When faced with challenges, exercise can help you cope in a healthy way, instead of resorting to alcohol, junk food, or other negative behaviors that only make symptoms worse.
  • More energy. If you’re new to exercise, start slowly, but be consistent. Boosting your heart rate amplifies long-lasting energy.

It’s Easier than You Think

Thirty minutes of moderate exercise five days a week will allow you to begin to reap the mental health and happiness benefits of movement.

  • Break it down into two 15-minute or three 10-minute sessions if that is easier for you.
  • Start slow. It works well to set a time of day and then do even a little exercise at that time to begin to establish a pattern. You can add time, intensity, and a variety of activities as you go. As a habit develops, your energy will increase, and you’ll feel like doing more.
  • Pace yourself, so you are breathing a little heavier than usual but aren’t gasping for air. Your body should feel warmer but not overheated.
  • Schedule exercise when your energy is highest – first thing in the morning, at lunchtime, or right after work.
  • Focus on activities you enjoy. Any movement counts – walking your dog, gardening, cleaning your house, window shopping, or working on a home improvement project.
  • Add music. Pairing music with movement doubles the happy vibes.
  • Be comfortable. Wear comfortable shoes and clothing, and select a setting that you enjoy – a nearby park path, your neighborhood, or your living room.
  • Be social. Working out with someone else can be more fun and motivating.

What’s Standing in Your Way?

Even when you know that exercise will make you feel better, it can be hard to move past the obstacles in your way and get started.

Fatigue. When your body is exhausted, depressed, or stressed, it can be hard to find the motivation to move. Knowing that regular exercise is a powerful energizer may not be enough at that moment. However, if you can push past the lethargy for just a short walk, you’ll start to build a routine that will reap results.

 

Time. The thought of adding another “to-do” to your day can seem overwhelming. Try to build more activity into the things you’re already doing. Park farther away, take the stairs, walk to another area of your work rather than calling, walk extra aisle while shopping, or walk in place during commercials.

Feeling overwhelmed. Start slowly, perhaps going for a short walk or turn on music and dance. Search YouTube for free exercise videos for any experience level. Keep it simple. You don’t need new clothing or a gym membership.

Lack of Confidence. Maybe you think that you’re too old, too heavy, or too out of shape. Perhaps you fear that everyone is laughing at you. If you start to look around, you’ll notice that very few people look like the images in magazines. And most people would cheer your efforts, not criticize you. Exercise at home if you want privacy, and keep in mind that accomplishing small fitness goals will boost your confidence and improve how you think about yourself.

It’s Time to Get Happy

Now you know – long hours in the gym are not required to reap the mood-boosting benefits of regular exercise. Find activities you enjoy, start small and build from there. Soon you’ll notice that you’re feeling better and getting more out of life.

 

 

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