Health Team

After weight loss surgery, healthier choices keep pounds off

Posted March 28, 2013 5:30 p.m. EDT
Updated March 28, 2013 6:19 p.m. EDT

— Many people turn to bariatric surgery to avoid the health risks of obesity, but surgery alone won't keep the pounds off. Patients have to make good food choices to maintain a healthy weight, doctors say. 

After having surgery one year ago, Kathy Arsenault is committed to her health. She regularly goes to support group meetings, which often include cooking demonstrations.

"It's actually been one of the best years of my life. Isn't that crazy? I've lost 114 pounds," Arsenault said. 

The bariatric program at Rex Healthcare in Raleigh has a new specialty center for its patients that includes a teaching kitchen.

Dr. Lindsey Sharp, a bariatric surgeon at Rex, said poor food choices can still be a temptation.

"Just because you have an operation doesn't mean that you licked obesity for good," she said.


"Our commitment is a life-long commitment," said Dr. Peter Ng, also a bariatric surgeon at Rex. "We have to work to address each of the different areas that patients are challenged with."

Those challenges include making good choices when eating out and learning healthy cooking techniques at home.

Roe Demattia owns Georgina's Pizzeria in Morrisville. Her recipe for a stuffed portobello mushroom is bariatric-friendly, Demattia says, because it's high in protein (19.2 grams) and low in fat (just under 6 grams).

Instead of sauteing peppers and onion in oil or butter, Demattia uses garlic and chicken stock. Then she dices grilled chicken breast and mixes it with the vegetables and some white wine for flavor. Finally, the chicken and vegetable mixture goes into the mushroom, which is then topped with cheese and baked. 

Because bariatric patients have smaller stomachs after surgery, they need smaller portions.

"I still measure and weigh everything," Arsenault said. "When I cook it, I have a lot of extra leftovers. That's great, so I freeze a lot."