Bariatric Surgery Success

Bariatric Surgery Success

#52 What's for Dessert?

June 16, 2021

Hey, what’s for dessert? I grew up in Tennessee and this was a common question. Still is. And, I have to admit, I love dessert. Always have. But wait, I’m a dietitian. But first I’m a person who loves food and good dessert. How about you? You’ve had bariatric surgery but I bet you’ve asked yourself this question too, right? Can you have dessert or do you have to deny yourself now? Can dessert be good for you? Is dessert off the menu or what does dessert look like post surgery?

Hi, I’m registered dietitian nutritionist Dr. Susan Mitchell. You’re listening to the Bariatric Surgery Success podcast episode number 52. Most of my career I’ve worked in some type of media, particularly radio where I did morning drive nutrition spots for over 18 years. That’s what lead me to start podcasting and ultimately to you. I created Bariatric Surgery Success to provide you with life-changing information based on science along with simple strategies and tools to help you be successful in your transformation and your entire journey. So happy you’ve connected with me. You’re in the right place and I’m glad you’re listening.

I’d like to give a shout out this week to Christine who said this on Facebook: “Listening to your podcast every week helps keep me on track! I’m also excited about Dr. Connie joining the show.” Thank you Christine. Happy to know that the podcast helps you stay on track week to week. And yes, Dr. Connie’s spot on when it comes to mental health issues, isn’t she? 

If you missed guest psychologist Dr. Connie, the episode is #51 called Bariatric Mental Health Q & A: Your Questions Answered. Listen to it on the website or your favorite podcatcher like Apple or Google podcasts.

Let’s get right to it…dessert or no dessert? Basically whether we’re talking about treats or goodies or desserts we’re talking about the same thing. You may eat them at different times but they all fall in the same category. Bottom line, it’s all in your smart strategy. First, the replay. Remember that your body is unique as is your surgery. So as I always mention, circle back to your surgical team to make sure certain changes will work for you. Let’s be honest with each other. How long can you eat plain ol’ chicken or fish and brown rice or broccoli? Answer: not that long. Sure, you want to continue with your wins and successes but skipping a treat or a dessert that you really want can set you up to want more of it. Can I get an Amen?

Remember prior to the COVID pandemic, when you worked in an office and someone had that cool candy bowl always filled with M & M peanuts? Did you grab a few and feel satisfied or did you deny yourself? Did you then try to ignore them all day but those M & M’s kept calling your name? Denise, Peggy. What happened then? If you denied yourself long enough, did you go in there and grab a big handful or maybe even look in the drawer for the bag? Denial leads to feelings of being deprived, and ultimately, cravings and over eating. If you’d just had a few peanut M & M’s when you really wanted them, it’s likely you would have been satisfied and moved on. 

You’ve made terrific progress up to now and want to continue but can you fit a favorite dessert into your eating plan? You bet you can. It’s all about a smart strategy. By that I mean, think of the food choices you’ve made since surgery. I’m assuming you’re almost a year or more out now from surgery to be talking desserts or treats. You eat high protein foods, watch your processed carbs, choose healthy fats. When it comes to treats or dessert, whether you buy them or make them, try to meet those goals we just mentioned: include protein, keep the sugar low, and emphasize healthy fats. And sure, calories should be lower so you don’t ruin all your efforts with weight regain. However, before we talk more on how to do this, there will be times during special occasions, like a birthday or anniversary, when nothing but a certain dessert that you love will do. You know exactly what I mean? What is that treat for you? So, what to do? You plan your healthy meal with your normal goals, portions and foods in mind, but then allow yourself a small portion of the item you love and enjoy every single bite. The operative word here is a small portion planned as part of your day so that your favorite treat doesn’t turn into a stomach ache, dumping syndrome, or other gastrointestinal issues from too much sugar or fat. Enjoying something special should not affect your long term plan and success. It’s that denial that comes back to haunt you with cravings and overindulgence that’s the issue.

What about bariatric treats and desserts made with protein rich foods, low sugar, etc? Yes please. There are lots of bariatric recipes online but not all are good ones so what should you think about when selecting one?

Jeanette asked this question: “I know desserts will always need to be kept to a minimum, but for special occasions I hope I can still make desserts that will be "bariatric friendly," such as using almond flour and splenda, stevia or monkfruit in a berry or peach crumble. But I have heard that one reason why white bread and pastas and sugar free angle food cake are forbidden is that they can ball up and clog my intestines. Sugar free angel food cake is spongy. Does this mean I should find something else to use instead of sugar free angel food cake? I don't want something to clog my intestines!”

Jeanette’s question is spot on in that it affects many items you would make at home. There are two schools of thought on dessert and sweeteners. Some people hate sugar free sweeteners or don't tolerate them well or both. They would prefer to plan in a small portion of the real item. In a lot of desserts, the sugar free sweeteners don't bake well. In others they work great. It can be trial and error but they do better when used in fresh fruit items or in a pudding. Angel food cake, whether made with sugar or a sugar-free sweetener is like white bread, white pita or white pasta in that it is highly refined and has no fiber. It's the lack of fiber that is the issue and why you hear people say they get clogged up. Clogged up refers to the lack of fiber to help move the digestive process along. So you could use an angel food cake make with real sugar (just use a little less than the recipe calls for). Have a small portion with fruit to add fiber. Or, you could substitute the angel food cake for a pound cake made with almond flour. Almond flour has fewer carbs and more fat with the emphasis on healthy fat as the majority is monounsaturated. You could also find cookies made with almond flour and crumble them up. 

The process is to ask yourself a few questions when you’re baking at home:

1. Can I cut the amount of sugar without affecting the recipe? Most of the time the answer is yes, try it cutting back by 1/4 and go from there. FYI: 4 grams of sugar is equal to 1 teaspoon.

2. Would a sugar free sweetener work?

3. Can the all purpose flour be partially or fully replaced with an alternative like white whole wheat, almond flour, quinoa flour, or even chickpea flour, which contains both fiber and protein?

4.Can I alter the fat from butter or shortening to an oil or butter/oil combo?

I cook a lot and always tweak recipes to better meet the needs of my family. And remember, it also comes down to the portion you eat. You can make yourself totally stressed, that’s not the goal. So make smart substitutions and serve yourself the appropriate portion. It's really important to be able to make recipes that you and family will eat and enjoy. Use these ideas, pre-plan and you can do just that. Decide what works best for you. You’re worth it!