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Losing weight is challenging, but keeping it off can be even more difficult. Sometimes the very restrictive nature of a successful diet might trigger overeating and regaining weight when a goal is reached. Maintaining weight loss after successful dieting or bariatric surgery in Houston makes your hard work and investment in better health all the more rewarding.

young woman holding a circle made out of vegetables over her abdomen

The Boomerang Diet Effect

Dietary strategies take time to develop into healthy lifestyle habits, no matter how successful we might be at losing weight by willpower alone. Even as we enjoy the benefits of weighing less, old habits begin to creep back in, or we feel justified at having just “one more piece.”

As the balance begins to shift back to larger portions and more frequent treats, the hard-won progress is lost. The momentum shifts the other way, and the pounds come back, sometimes with a few more added. While stomach surgery can help stop this cycle, making the right changes to eating patterns for daily life is essential to keeping the weight off long-term.

These 5 strategies will help you stop the boomerang effect and protect your progress.

5 Tips to Keep the Weight Off Long Term

1. Choose a Proven Dietary Strategy

There are many healthy eating plans that will help you know when your balance is off. Rather than going off a diet and into free-for-all mode, you can switch between strategies, but always having a plan makes it easier to stay on track.

The key here is to decide which measuring device you will use to know when you are done eating. You might:

  • Count calories. This allows you to eat high volumes of low-calorie foods to feel full. High-fiber choices enhance this effect because they digest more slowly. Fresh fruit, vegetables, beans, and whole grains should be part of a low-calorie diet. This plan will be low in fat, but herbs and spices can add flavor.
  • Count carbs. Another way to control weight is to limit the carbohydrates in the diet, particularly “simple” carbohydrates and sugars. The body turns carbohydrates into glucose, increasing blood sugar and insulin levels. This available blood sugar must be used up before the body will burn fat for energy. By limiting carbohydrates, the body must burn fat from food, and from its own storage, to fuel body functions. Leafy greens, healthy fats, and protein are essential to this diet.
  • Count fat grams. Another way to help prevent fat storage is to limit fat in the diet. Since most foods that are naturally low in fat are also low in calories (with the exception of sweet foods), dieters can count fat grams rather than adding up the calories in the vegetables or whole-grain foods they consume. Some fat is necessary for good health, so be sure to incorporate unsaturated fats in foods like avocados, nuts, fish, or olive oil as part of a low-fat diet.

young woman enjoying a healthy vegetable salad as she stands outdoor

2. Recognize Hunger and Eat Mindfully

We turn to food to satisfy feelings other than physical hunger and may not recognize the physical sensation of hunger (or fullness) when we are trying to fill other needs by eating. Some ways to become more aware of emotional eating patterns below can help you recognize the difference between feeling hungry and feeling empty.

When you feel like eating outside of mealtimes, pay attention to what you are feeling emotionally. Are you bored, tired, worried, stressed, or lonely? Eating high-calorie snacks can temporarily boost energy or mood, but eating when we are not hungry is very likely to cause weight gain.

Try these alternatives to emotional eating for better results:

  • Practice yoga, meditate, or soak in a hot bath if you are stressed or worried.
  • Reach out to friends or watch a movie if you are bored or lonely.
  • Take a walk or nap if you feel low on energy.

When it is time to eat, savor the experience of eating when you are hungry and focus on what you feel physically. Enjoy the smell, textures, and tastes. Chew slowly and completely, and be aware of how much food your stomach can comfortably hold. As soon as you feel satisfied, stop eating—before you reach the “can’t eat another bite” stage.

3. Motivate Yourself and Others

Achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight is a lifestyle choice. Finding motivation in your daily life and sharing what you’ve learned with others can help cement your new way of eating and prevent backsliding.

Here’s how to strengthen your determination to succeed and find joy in your food choices.

  • Get with a program. Weekly meetings with a support group or encouraging friends give you a get-together to look forward to which is not focused on eating. You can share ideas, recipes, and encouragement.
  • Consider all your weight loss options. Discuss your situation with your doctor to determine the safe medical options to help you maintain a healthy body weight and reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes.
  • Set goals and track your progress. Setting achievable goals and making them a reality is rewarding! When you feel tempted to over-indulge, take a look at how much you’ve already accomplished. There are fitness trackers and diet journal apps for your smartphone that will help you see where you have been and where you want to be.
  • Pace yourself. Losing too much weight too quickly can cause fatigue, headaches, and body aches as blood sugar levels plummet and muscle tissue breaks down. Even after gastric sleeve surgery, one to three pounds a week is considered fast and safe weight loss, so take it slow and steady.

4. Clean Up Your Food Environment

As we become more mindful of what we are eating, and when, it becomes apparent that we get hungry for what we see and smell. By having the right foods available when we are hungry, and by eating on a regular schedule, we can take control of our appetite in a natural way.

Some ways to support your own good habits include:

  • Eating a healthy breakfast every day to start fully fueled and with an immediate win first thing in the morning.
  • Have snacks like hummus and carrots prepared and on the top shelf of the refrigerator. Take the time to present your chosen foods in an appetizing way.
  • Start meals with clear broth or salad and eat only enough of the main course to feel satisfied.
  • Cook meals at home and prepare snacks to take with you, to avoid getting hungry when and where your options are limited.
  • Use smaller plates, bowls, and cups in proportion to the new, smaller you. Always portion food, avoid eating out of containers or bags, especially when distracted.
  • Remove foods from your home and workspace that you do not intend to eat. Block your view of tempting things like office candy bowls or vending machines.
  • Get up and move around during commercials on television or turn down your music app to avoid advertising designed to make fattening food seem better and more appealing than it actually is.
  • Try fasting from dinnertime until breakfast the next day to allow your digestive system to rest and to break through dietary plateaus.

young man sitting in grass and eating a fresh apple

5. Seek Medical Advice Early and Often

Making a significant change to diet, activity levels, and body size has a very real and positive effect on how our bodies function. These changes can have such a tremendous impact that existing prescriptions for medications will need to be adjusted. Having an understanding doctor monitoring your health should be part of your weight loss strategy.

Bariatric surgeries and technologies like the Gastric Sleeve will need follow-up care and monitoring, so having a supportive doctor-patient relationship will help you feel confident that your chosen diet and lifestyle changes are the right ones for your situation.

You may want to take advantage of a comprehensive health team to guide your weight loss in a safe and permanent way. A dietitian, nutritionist, fitness coach, and therapist might all be part of your expert support team. Discussing your weight loss surgery options with a team you trust will get you the best possible results for long into the future.

Choosing Change for a Healthy Life

The most important decision to make as you strive toward a healthier weight is to never give up. No one is perfect, and we all have setbacks and slips because the journey is challenging. If one path isn’t working for you, we will help you find another way.

At Bariatric Care Centers, we offer more than gastric sleeve surgery in Houston. We stand behind your healthy weight loss and will empower your choices today and for your healthy life ahead. Contact us today to find out how we can help.

Disclaimer: This is only for general information. All patients should consult their doctors prior to following any of the recommendations in any articles, posts, infographics, or videos. All patients have individual needs and limitations that only their treating physicians can be fully aware of.