Why You Should Stay in Touch with Your Bariatric Dietitians During Stay-at-Home Orders

May 27, 2020Bariatric RDs

When you have bariatric surgery, follow-up is crucial to meeting your new lifestyle goals and seeing long-term success. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, staying in touch with providers can be difficult, and lifestyles for everyone have changed drastically.  

Now, for our own safety, we must stay home, but that doesn’t mean we have to spend our time sitting still and falling back into unhealthy eating habits, says Dr. Marc Neff, Medical Director of Bariatric Surgery at Jefferson Health in New Jersey.

Luckily, dietitians are still seeing patients through telehealth, and they can help patients navigate unexpected obstacles.

“It’s incredibly important to stay on track with your nutrition visits and diet plan – to track weight maintenance and work through any “ups” and “downs” – especially during a time when we’re highly stressed and tempted by food,” said Cheri Leahy, RDN, CSOWM.

Even if you’ve faced setbacks, speaking to your dietitian can help hold you accountable and boost motivation, adds Andrea Bookoff, MS, RD. “We understand that many aspects of life have changed. Everyone is struggling in different ways. We’re here to help you talk through it and adjust.”

While virtual visits – via JeffConnect® at Jefferson Health – may seem scary to some, once you’re logged on, it’s like any other appointment, explains Leahy.

Leahy and Bookoff both expressed that there are various benefits to connecting with patients through telehealth, including the comfort of being in one’s own home, and the ability to share items not usually brought into the office.

“When we discuss recipe ideas, we can walk to our kitchens and pick up different ingredients,” added Bookoff. “It’s relaxing and personal. You can still build a rapport through the screen.” 

Offscreen, it’s important to implement the advice of your dietitians when it comes to coping, avoiding overeating, and finding new, creative ways to exercise.  

“You should curb the temptation to stress eat as much as possible,” said Bookoff. “Try to keep your day structured. Stay busy and do things you enjoy as a distraction. Spend your excess free time researching new recipes or pick up an old or new hobby.”

If you have a hard time staying out of the kitchen, out of sheer boredom, consider creating a barrier – certain timeframes that you’re allowed to go in, adds Bookoff.

In addition to limiting your food intake, it’s just as important to keep the right foods in the house. Leahy suggests stocking up on frozen and canned veggies, as access to fresh produce may be limited. “The more fibrous veggies we have on our plate, the longer we’ll feel full.”

Snack foods don’t have to be avoided completely, but they should be minimal, and healthy alternatives are always advised. Keeping a daily “snack box” with your snacks for the day or packing a lunch, like you would at work, may also be helpful.

Exercise can take place at home in many shapes and forms – it doesn’t have to be a huge gym routine to make a difference, says Bookoff. “It’s all about getting moving. You can take short breaks throughout the day and do a few squats, push-ups, or arm raises. Before you know it, these small movements will really add up, and they’ll get easier and easier!” 

Also, for those who have safe outdoor spaces, it’s highly encouraged that they take advantage of the opportunity to get up, get moving, and get some fresh air.

“Above all else, remember to listen to your body and do what works best for you,” said Leahy. Remember, follow up visits with a bariatric dietitian is imperative to successful long term weight management, achievement of whole body wellness, and safe-use of your chosen surgical tool. 

If you’re looking for online bariatric support during the pandemic, Jefferson Health in New Jersey is now offering Virtual Bariatric Support Groups on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the summer. For dates and registration info, click HERE. You can also join the Jefferson Bariatric Support Group Facebook page HERE.

To view a Peanut Butter Banana Chip Smoothie Demo from Bookoff, click HERE

To view a Chia Seed Pudding Demo from Leahy, click HERE. 

You can use JeffConnect® for a telehealth consult with a Jefferson doctor anytime, anywhere. For more information on the coronavirus (COVID-19), click HERE.