It is not a coincidence that the majority of my patients, when they first meet me, don’t cook. They “eat out.” That means they eat at fast food places, or chain restaurants. That means they eat crap. It also means they eat too much. One of the first things successful patients do is learn how or what to cook. They also change the places they used to eat out – and go somewhere else. Patients who STRUGGLE with the Lap-Band either struggle because they do not cook at home, or struggle with foods because they don’t cook them properly.
The goal for someone wanting to change their lifestyle is simple : Learn one new recipe every two weeks. Follow the recipe exactly- then as they feel more comfortable with it- they might change it a bit. Even though they have a cookbooks- we encourage them to get a recipe card and write everything down about the recipe first. Then when they change the recipe, change it on the card. Having a card is a lot easier than opening a book.
Repetition is important. Before any great chef opens a new restaurant the staff cooks the items on the menu again and again until they have it down perfectly.
First- patients need to understand temperature on food. A bit of heat will unlock flavors, and textures, and nutrients. Too much heat will ruin the flavor, make the dish unpalatable, and alter the texture of the food from something pleasant to something that you have to choke down.
The most reliable way for heat is to cook Sous Vide – not a common way to cook in the US yet, but obtaining a Sous Vide water oven provides patients with an ideal cooking tool.
Different cuts of meat, different proteins react differently to heat. A high heat will sear the outside of meat and give it a unique flavor – but if it is applied too long it will dry out the protein inside. Cooking low and slow will allow you to enjoy a food like ribs. But if you cook steak low and slow it will come out chewy and dry.
For Lap-Band patients it is critical to cook proteins properly. If you don’t they will get stuck:
Eggs: eggs are mostly protein. If cooked in too high a heat for a short period of time they will dry out and become stuck. This is typical of how most restaurants cook eggs, and how most people are taught to cook eggs. When patients come to me they will tell me that they “cannot eat eggs.” The real issue isn’t that they cannot eat eggs—they simply cannot eat eggs that are cooked fast and hard. The proper way to cook scrambled eggs is over a low heat – stiring constantly, and not adding salt or pepper until they are done- and finishing them with butter. Properly cooked eggs have the consistency of custard.
Chicken: chicken breast is best cooked with a Sous Vide style (in a water oven for less than an hour then a quick sear). Chicken is one of the most abused proteins for cooking. It is over-cooked in most homes, most restaurants, and all soups. Learning to cook chicken properly, or sous-vide- allows the chicken to be moist, and not have to be choked down. Rotisserie chicken works well – but only if you do it (get a home rotisserie unit).
Patients who are successful with the band become “food snobs.” They eat at restaurants that know how to prepare food properly- by any chef standards. They learn to cook those dishes at home – and properly. They will not tolerate chain restaurants – and have no problem being a picky eater to eat healthy food.
Dr Terry Simpson
Dr. Terry Simpson is a Phoenix weight loss surgeon. He encourages his lap-band surgery patients to learn to cook and adopt healthier lifestyles. His goal is to use culinary medicine to keep patients out of his operating room. in 2017, Dr. Simpson became a Certified Culinary Medicine Specialist.