Barbara Thompson

Weight Loss Surgery


A FREE publication from


Hosted by Barbara Thompson
Author of:
Weight Loss Surgery:
Finding the Thin Person Hiding Inside You.

Issue #151

October 15, 2008


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In This Issue


* Research Article: Bone Density Loss Following Weight Loss Surgery
* Ask Barbara: Diet Soda – What’s the Harm?
* Recipe: Creamy Chicken and Mushrooms Macaroni Crock Pot Recipe
* Success Story: Brenda Butler

Research Article:  Bone Density Loss
  Following Weight Loss Surgery

During our most recent Back on Track monthly telephone seminar, we had Dr. Jacqueline Jacques as our guest. Dr. Jacques is the chief science officer for Bariatric Advantage, the premier company for vitamin supplements for weight loss surgery patients.  One of the subjects that we talked about was the importance of taking calcium – and the right kind of calcium.

A new study conducted by Dr. Shonni Silverberg of Columbia University shows that those of us who have had gastric bypass surgery suffer from deficiencies of calcium and vitamin D absorption. Researchers followed 23 gastric bypass patients who lost an average of 99 pounds for one year following surgery and found a significant decline in hip bone mineral density. Research suggested that the deficiencies were caused by alterations in the gastrointestinal tract that we undergo and that increased supplements can help. The study will be published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Calcium supplements are vital to your continued health.  Be sure that you are taking a good calcium supplement and one that is meant for weight loss surgery patients. 

Nutritional Supplements for
Bariatric Surgery Patients

Bariatric Advantage® provides a complete line of nutritional supplements that have been specifically formulated to meet the unique demands of both the pre-operative bariatric surgical candidate, as well as the post-operative bariatric surgical patient.

Click here for more information

Ask Barbara: Diet Soda – What’s the Harm?

Bill wrote:
Prior to my surgery, I never drank very much fluid. I rarely drank water but would drink a glass or 2 glasses of milk a day. About 2 years after my surgery, I started to drink diet Coke. I have been drinking about 2 cans per day. I am almost 3 years post-op and have managed to keep the weight off – nearly 200 pounds. My question is, “What is the harm in drinking diet soda when you are more than 2 years post-op?

 The short answer is, plenty – if you believe the studies.

When you are newly post-op, you have probably heard the arguments that the carbonation in soda will expand your pouch. Therefore you may have reasoned that you will let the soda get flat and then drink it.  Of course the time you wait for the soda to go flat may have gotten shorter and shorter, so that you may just be drinking the soda right after opening the can the further you get away from your surgery date.  And besides, if you are many years post-op, the fear of expanding your pouch probably left you long ago.

If your soda has caffeine, like Diet Coke, then the caffeine will dehydrate you, so you are getting no hydration benefit from the soda. Caffeine is a diuretic that causes you to lose fluids from your body.

So how about caffeine free diet soda? What could the harm there be? You aren’t getting calories. You don’t really have to worry about expanding your pouch if you are several years post-op. You aren’t getting caffeine that robs your body of fluids. Sounds like the perfect liquid! Here is one important reason why it is not. Diet soda, decaffeinated or not, contains artificial sweetener and we need to consider how artificial sweetener acts in our bodies.

In a 2007 report of a study conducted by the University of Texas, researchers followed 600 people over an 8 year period. They found that of those who drank 1 to 2 cans of diet soda per day, 54% of them over the 8 year period became obese.  Yet, of those who drank 1 to 2 cans of regular soda, only 33% of them became obese.

I am not suggesting and neither is the study that you should drink regular soda. However, this study is one more reason to consider how artificial sweetener acts in the body. 

Most diet sodas contain aspartame which studies have shown decreases the serotonin in the body.  Serotonin is the neurochemical that regulates emotions and appetite, among other things. Therefore a decrease in serotonin can cause depression which can lead us to turn to comfort foods as well as increase our appetite. So the caffeine free diet soda that you are drinking may very well be making you more hungry and causing cravings.

The jury is still out on Splenda. There have been some adverse reactions reported, so you may not be safe substituting Splenda for aspartame.

Just try going a week with no diet soda or artificially sweetened products and see if you notice a difference. See if your appetite calms down and your cravings decrease.

Here are some substitutes for diet soda that you might want to consider.

  • Water – pure and simple
  • Water with a little fruit juice mixed in
  • Water with a slice of lemon or orange
  • Herbal tea


Please let me hear from you and if this information has made a difference for you.

Email me at

Attention Nurse Educators

Preparing for COE Status?

Would You Like to Have

Obesity Sensitivity Training for

Your Hospital Staff?

Speaking for Hospitals

If you are a bariatric coordinator or nurse educator and need obesity sensitivity training for your hospital staff, contact me at 877-440-1518 or  Obesity sensitivity training is a Center of Excellence requirement.

Creamy Chicken and Mushrooms
  Macaroni Crock Pot Recipe

Here is an easy recipe that will slowly cook while you are watching a football game.
Great Fall recipe!

Creamy Chicken and Mushrooms Macaroni Crock Pot Recipe

1 (10 3/4 oz.) can Healthy Request Cream of Chicken Soup
1/4 cup Land O Lakes no-fat sour cream
16 oz. skinned & boned uncooked chicken breast, cut into 20 pieces
1 cup (one 4oz. can) sliced mushrooms, drained
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/3 cups (3oz) uncooked elbow macaroni (try a whole wheat variety)
salt and pepper to taste

Spray a slow cooker container with butter flavored cooking spray. In the prepared container, combine chicken soup & sour cream. Stir in chicken, mushrooms, & onion. Add uncooked macaroni. Mix well to combine. Cover & cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours. Gently stir again just before serving.

If you have a recipe that you would like to share in future issues of this newsletter, please send it to me at

Back on Track with Barbara Program

Are you...

Suffering from emotional eating and can’t stop?
Grazing on carbohydrates and can’t control it?
Lacking inspiration to lose the weight you have regained?
Feel you don’t know what to do now that you have had surgery?
Dying to be in better shape with warm weather here?

 Then you are in luck! My Back on Track Internet Mentoring Program is just what you need!

View a FREE Lesson and Listen to a FREE Telephone Seminar by
clicking here and scrolling down to the bottom of the page.


Success Story:
  Brenda Butler

I want to offer Brenda Butler a special thanks for sharing her story with us:

My name is Brenda Butler and I live in Central Pennsylvania.  My story of obesity began at a very young age. I was overweight my entire life - from age 2 or 3 until the time of my surgery at age 37.

I have many family members who also struggle with weight issues, so I suppose some of my weight problem can be attributed to genetics, although I certainly do not deceive myself by placing all the blame there. I grew up not being taught healthy eating habits in a family of traditional meals of meat and potatoes. My mother is an excellent cook and bakes fantastic desserts, all of which I grew very addicted to over the years.

Unfortunately, I was also blessed with a not-so-great metabolism accompanied with the fact that I had no ambition to exercise, and that landed me at my highest weight ever - 301 pounds at the age of 32. The day I stepped on the scale and saw the 300+ pounds reading was the day I knew I had to do something about my weight. I knew I had to do it fast so I could live to see my children grow up.

It was at this point in my life that I started exploring the options of weight loss surgery. I began to research the subject online and even attended a support group meeting at a hospital not far from my home. My partner at the time was not eagerly supportive of the surgery and did not think I was "heavy enough" to warrant me having the surgery.  My boys (ages 8 and 14 then) were not supportive either, due to their fears of the risks involved.  I decided to table the idea for the time being and make one last attempt on my own to lose some weight the good old fashion way - with diet and exercise! I was also a single mother, and I was very apprehensive about the idea of who would raise my boys if something happened to me during surgery.

In January of 2003 I joined TOPS, a weight loss support group as one last attempt to lose weight with diet and exercise.  Over a span of 6 months, I lost about 60 pounds. I went on vacation that summer and gained a few of those back. I returned to my program and lost 20 more for a total of 74 pounds lost.  I maintained my weight around 227 pounds for about 3 years. I was happy with this loss; however, never satisfied with where my loss plateaued. I got back into old habits and the pounds started to creep back on. This is a familiar story to many of us, right?

In January of 2006, I had some major personal life changes involving a new partner (my fiancé, Scott), who was extremely supportive of weight loss surgery when I talked to him about the subject. He also did not think I was heavy enough to need the surgery, but completely understood my self-esteem issues, etc., and realized the significant long-term health benefits that I would be rewarded with down the road after having the surgery. He said he would stand behind me 150% if weight loss surgery is what I wanted, so I decided to move forward with my plans.

I went online again to further research my options and found Barix Clinics, a facility that specializes only in weight loss surgery.  I called for a consultation and the rest, as they say, is history!  I found a phenomenal surgeon, Dr. Neal Marymor, who had performed over 2500 open RNY bypass procedures.  Although I qualified for the laparoscopic procedure, I chose the open approach because my surgeon was only practicing that method of surgery at the time. Scott and I spent a great amount of time with Dr. Marymor discussing all pros, cons, risks, benefits, etc.

My surgery was done in August of 2006, and Scott never missed a single appointment throughout my weight loss surgery journey.  I would highly recommend to anyone considering the surgery to have a support person who accompanies you to all of your appointments, and have that same person be your aftercare helper when you come home.  That way, he/she will know all the aspects of your surgery and what to expect before, during and after.  Some support sites call this person your "angel." 

I celebrated my second year "surgiversary" this past August!  The time goes by so quickly! I was very fortunate to reach my weight loss goal before my 1-year anniversary!  My surgeon was absolutely thrilled with my success.  I am happy to say that I surpassed my goal weight of 150 pounds, and I have maintained my weight between 138 and 145 pounds. I allow myself those few pounds in fluctuation and do not get excited unless I see the scale move above the 145 pound mark, at which time I check myself back with reality and drop the pounds immediately. (Thankfully, we are given this wonderful tool that allows us to do this!)  I will never allow myself to go back where I came from – NEVER.

So, to put my surgical journey into perspective now that I consider myself a success, that places my total weight loss pre and post-surgery at about 160 pounds. Additionally, and more importantly than any size or number on a scale is that my BMI has gone from 50.1 to 23.8, or less than half!! Now, according to all nationally recognized data and charts, I am in a normal weight category for a decreased chance of health risks and diseases!! That was my ultimate goal when I had this surgery two years ago – goal accomplished!

I still sit some days and really wonder if this is all a dream, after living my entire life as a morbidly obese person and now to be a normal weight. It is very surreal to me, but I love it!!!!! Two years later, I am still realizing that I can shop for clothing in “normal” size stores!!

I continue to experience situations where I run into an acquaintance I have not seen for awhile, and they do not know who I am – yes, two years later, that is STILL happening!! Actually, it's quite strange. However, a friend of mine from our high school days had the same surgery, and I ran into her just a month or so ago (she was about a year post-op). I almost did not recognize her, so I can now understand why this happens to me so frequently!

I went parasailing last year at the beach to celebrate my newfound freedom from 37 years of being stuck in a body twice the size I should have been.  I am terrified of heights and get very motion sick, but my fiancé and I sailed tandem 600 feet over the Atlantic Ocean, and it was an awesome "free" feeling!!  This is something I would never have imagined doing at 300+ pounds!

My fiancé and I are getting married on a Princess Cruise ship at sea in February 2009.  He loved me just at much when I weighed 300 pounds as he does now when I weigh 140, but I will hopefully live a much longer, active, healthier life with him now - not to mention I'll get to wear my dream wedding gown to get married!!

Thank you for allowing me to share my story with you.  I will not kid you.  This surgery has been a journey of both highs and lows, but that is how all aspects of life are - you take the good with the bad.  I can tell you now looking back on it - it was well worth the ride!!!

Brenda Butler

Congratulations Brenda
I love good news.  If you have good news, a success story, or inspiration to share, please send it to me at so that I can include it in future issues.


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