Melinda Talks About Her Experience with Having the Sleeve Gastrectomy

In this video, Houston weight loss surgeon Dr. Clifton Thomas talks with Melinda about her recent experience having the sleeve gastrectomy 4 weeks ago. She’s already lost 20 lbs, and says she has more energy than ever.

Before having surgery, Melinda says she’d heard horror stories about what it would be like after surgery. To her surprise, she’s had no problems and is finding that it really easy as long as you follow the prescribed eating plan.

If you’re considering bariatric surgery  and would like to know how to choose a Houston weight loss surgeon that’s right for you, visit our “Choosing a Surgeon That’s Right for You” page here.

Pitfalls to Success

Gary Chapman’s book The Five Languages of Love points out that we express our emotional love through five languages – words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. This is a very powerful and important relationship concept. It is important to know your personal love language and the language of those you love. We are all the same in that we want to show and receive love. We are different by which language is our own language.

A universal way to show emotional love is through food. Unfortunately, this is a pitfall to long term weight loss success.
Showing love through food
I have been divorced for eight years now and have a very good relationship with my ex. My kids are getting older now, and good eating habits are fairly well established. Since my divorce I have had the opportunity to have my kids all to myself. It was all me, and I would find myself trying to show love through food despite teaching otherwise to my patients.

You see for me, and almost all divorced people there is guilt. So when we are with our kids we want to drown them in love. So I would use this desire to buy ice cream, pizza, and all kinds of unhealthy food in preparation for my time with them. Common sense aside, I still felt that strong drive to show love through food, bad food. I would laugh at myself and think, are you kidding? What are you doing? It made me realize how strong the drive is to show love through food. It was not how I would eat otherwise, so the difference was obvious.Showing love through food is a negative way to show love. Why? It leads to gaining excess weight, which we know is harmful. There are many dysfunctional relationships and we are all probably guilty of showing love in some way that is sometimes harmful. It is important for us to recognize when it happens.

Even without guilt, we live in an age where we try to shower our kids or loved ones with love at every turn. At least on a mild level, most people have trouble maintaining a normal weight because we live in a calorie rich environment. So everybody needs to learn to show love through food in a way that is not harmful.

Mary Ann is your typical busy mother. She is busy working, as well as trying to be a good mother and spouse. She does the grocery shopping. She buys soft drinks, chips, and ice cream. She says they are not for her but the kids. If she does not buy them, then the kids say things like, “There is never any food here.”

One of the best tools to prevent snacking is to have shelves and refrigerators empty of bad, unhealthy food. But in doing so, you will face the firing squad. So Mary Ann tells me that she feels like a bad mom when this happens. It is tough love. And in the beginning it hurts. But it is the right thing to do – for them and yourself.

Emotional eating
Betty is a good mom. Her daughter is struggling with life. She is in trouble with the law and quite possibly going to jail. Betty is nine years out from a gastric bypass and has been very successful for nine years.

She has started regaining weight. She remembered me telling her that if she ever started regaining weight, one of the best things she can do is start making monthly office visits. On her first monthly visit she went through the details of her  daughter’s tragedy, and began crying. She was starting to snack – what she called emotional eating. It was her way to show love to herself.

Our brains do not like to be told it cannot have something. In the chapter on inner secrets I discuss the importance of re-framing the language we use to ourselves and others. We need to re-frame our words to our brain so that it is not being told it cannot have something. So tell yourself you can have it, but with rules.

Often the person with the snacking problem is the person who does the grocery shopping. The best way to stop snacking is to stop buying snack food. So while shopping and feeling the urge to buy snack food pause for a moment and remember what it is like to fit into those skinny jeans. Once it is at home, relying on will power to not snack will not work. If snack food makes it home, consider it eaten – unless you can follow the get comfortable wasting food rule.

If you make a bad decision at the grocery store and snack food makes it home then what you need to do is eat one helping and enjoy it without blame. Truly enjoy it. Then throw the rest in the trash can. Do it every time. Over time your subconscious will not want to waste anymore food and that difficult decision to not buy snack food at the grocery store will no longer occur. Its magic and it works.

So how do you show love to yourself? Think of the five languages of love. Whether your language is touch, words of affirmation, acts of service, giving a gift, or quality time, then give it to yourself in some way that is healthy and not harmful.

Journaling is a good overall success habit for lots of endeavors. Grazing on food is a common pitfall for success. Often it is a bite here and a bite there, all day long. This is a recipe for failure with any weight loss surgery we do. Journaling is one method to help you realize this is happening and awareness is the first step to all change.

Once aware, go to work trying to fix the problem, which in general is either not buying it or eat one helping and waste the rest.

You will not be graded on your journaling. It is for you alone. The hardest person to be honest with is you. So make a rule to write down everything that goes into your mouth and be truthful. Every bite counts. Use it as a tool. Once you have achieved awareness, then maybe you can forgo journaling.

For many the work place has some common area always full of food laid out ready for the passing-by nibbler. It is impossible to change others who do not want to change. So this is difficult. Mentoring works by showing others what success looks like. As they see your healthiness, vitality, and all those things that are the essence of fitting into those skinny jeans, they just might be willing to change. Instead of telling the snack bringers they are doing something bad, talk about how it feels to fit into those skinny jeans and why success requires no snacking.

We sometimes get a strong craving for certain food, say chocolate. But it could be bread, chips, ice cream, or almost anything. Never keep the food that you sometimes crave at home. If you crave it, get dressed and get into your car and go someplace and get one helping and eat it there. Enjoy it, embrace the moment, but do not bring it home. Over time that craving will disappear.

In general, we are subconsciously too lazy to do it often enough for it to matter in terms of long term weight loss success. Think of the process as a tool.

Drinking with your meals
It has become customary to drink while eating. We digest food better if we do not drink while eating. If we drink while eating, it washes the food rapidly out of our stomach before adequate digestion and before adequate fullness occurs. It is a difficult custom to break. So here is a tool. Do not keep something to drink next to your plate.

If you have a strong desire that you need a drink while eating, get up from the table and go to the kitchen. Take one drink, then go and sit back down to your meal. Keep doing this every time you feel the need to have a drink.

Over time that need will disappear like magic. It is difficult not having a glass of something next to your plate at a restaurant. The waiters will keep asking if they can get you something and it gets annoying. Hopefully you spend most of your eating time not in restaurants and can establish the habit.

Skipping meals
Believe it or not skipping meals is a pitfall. It seems to our brains to make sense that if we eat we get fat, and if we do not eat we lose weight. Years and years of the starvation diets all have the same result. We lose weight and as soon as we stop starving we regain weight rapidly and with a vengeance, usually everything we lost plus a ten percent gain. We have all tried it and we all know it to be true.

It seems intuitively backwards that we need to eat to maintain a healthy weight, but it is true. I think we need a small volume of food and the sensation of satisfied fullness to send messages to the brain to burn – not conserve calories.

I personally prefer to not eat breakfast. I am usually ready to start my day and do not want to take time. But I remind myself almost every day it is important that I eat a small breakfast. Many weight loss surgery patients get very full, very easily in the morning and it is very easy for them to skip breakfast.

They need to at least eat something to get their metabolism headed in the right direction. That is burning calories versus storing calories. It is something we learned in medicine many years ago. That’s when the sugar dextrose was added to basic intravenous solutions. Think of it as a scale much like the scale of justice.

On one side on the scale our metabolism burns calories on the other side of the scale it conserves calories. The biochemical pathways that burn calories require calories to prime the process. So eat breakfast and do not skip meals.

These are the most common pitfalls that I hear from patients that are struggling with success. I have tried to keep them few and straight forward. There are other pitfalls. Try to learn the process of identifying your personal pitfalls and then coming up with a tool or method to give your brain what it wants without it being harmful to long term success.

For more helpful advice on maintaining your weight loss goals, you can get the kindle version of my book Skinny Jeans…at Last! on Amazon.

Get Your Plate In Shape Part 2 of 4

March is National Nutrition Month!  This year’s theme is, “GET YOUR PLATE IN SHAPE!”

Throughout the month, we will focus on the following food groups:  protein, grains, dairy and fruits & vegetables and help you to get your plate in shape!

This week we will focus on GRAINS.  Who doesn’t love carbs?  Sadly many of our favorites are not our body’s favorites.  Drop those Cheetos, put down fries and let’s get your plate in shape in regards to grains!

Grains 101:  Grains are seeds!  Grains contain germ (nutrient and antioxidant storehouse), endosperm (energy!) and bran (the outer shell that is full of fiber and vitamins).

Whole grains are the deal!  Whole grains are packed with nutrition and reduce risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes.  Whole grains also help with digestive health and weight control.  Your goal should be to consume 3 servings of whole grain a day.

When you select grains, always go with whole grains.  Choose grains like brown rice, barley, whole-wheat couscous and oats.  Substitute whole-wheat flour for half of the white flour when baking breads, muffins, biscuits, pancakes or waffles.  Look for whole-wheat products like whole-wheat pastas, tortillas or pizza crusts.  Switch to 100% whole grain cereal, bread, and crackers.  Don’t be fooled!  Check the food labels on packaging to be sure the first ingredient is 100% whole grain.  Those food companies are very sneaky!

Bump up your whole grain intake with these ideas:

  • Stir in brown rice or barley into homemade or canned soups
  • Add microwavable brown rice as a side dish to you dinner
  • Whole wheat couscous is a tasty alternative to rice and is ready in 5 minutes
  • Mix whole grain cereal into your trail mix
  • Use whole wheat tortillas for your tacos and quesadillas

March is National Nutrition Month

March is National Nutrition Month!  This year’s theme is, “GET YOUR PLATE IN SHAPE!”

Caroline Mathis RD/LD

What does nutrition even mean?  According to Webster, nutrition is the act or process of nourishing or being nourished.  How well are you nourishing yourself and loved ones?  The newest Dietary Guidelines can appear overwhelming but to put it simply, consume fewer calories and be more active.  Eat less.  Move more.

Throughout the month, we will focus on the following food groups:  protein, grains, dairy and fruits & vegetables and help you to get your plate in shape!

Week 1:  Protein

This group isn’t just the meat group anymore.  Protein includes the following:  animal meat like chicken, beef, pork, turkey, eggs, cheese, peanut butter, cottage cheese, beans, nuts, deli meats, tofu, tuna, and other fish.

Protein Basics:  Proteins are the building blocks of the human body.  They are made up of amino acids and help build muscles, blood, skin, hair, nails and organs.

How much do you need?  The average American only needs 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight.  Take your weight in pounds then divide by 2.2 to get your weight in kilograms.  Then multiply that number by 0.8 to see how many grams of protein you need a day.  The amount of protein in foods varies from product to product and from animal to animal.  The general rule of thumb is about 6 ounces per day.  (3 ounces is about the size of the palm of a lady’s hand.)

Endurance athletes, teenage athletes, untrained people starting an exercise program require more protein.  The recommendation for this group is 1.0-1.5 grams per kilogram of body weight.

Trying to gain muscle mass?  More protein does not lead to bigger muscles.  Bulking up means dedication to extra exercise and extra calories, not supplements.  Research shows us that there is a cap on what our body can actually absorb.  If you are trying to gain muscle mass, consume protein evenly throughout your day.  Consume 10-20 grams of protein within an hour you completed your weight training.  This is known at the “hour of power”.  Pair a complex carbohydrate with lean protein for optimal results.

Trying to lose weight?  High protein diets are not always the answer.

  • Filling your stomach with too much protein you won’t be able to fuel your muscles with carbohydrate.
  • Too much protein can damage your kidneys.
  • A diet based on animal protein can take its toll on your wallet and on the environment.
  • A diet high in protein can be high in fat.

However, bumping up your protein intake slightly can help you stay fuller longer, therefore helping you take in fewer calories and in turn, lose weight!


What are some typical serving sizes of protein?


Serving Size

Protein (g)*

Hamburger, extra lean

3 oz

22 g

Chicken, roasted

3 oz

27 g


3 oz

22 g

Tuna, water packed

3 oz

21 g

Sirloin steak

3 oz

23 g

Cottage cheese (made with 1% milk)

1 C

28 g

Skim milk

1 C

8 g

Yogurt, low fat

8 oz

8 g

Cheddar cheese

1 oz

7 g

Soy milk

1 C

8 g


½ C

7 g

Lentils, cooked

½ C

17 g

Kidney beans, cooked

½ C

8 g

Macaroni, cooked

1 C

8 g


1 large

6 g

Whole-wheat bread

2 slices

4 g

Rice, cooked

1 C

4 g

Broccoli, cooked

1 C

4 g


5 Ways To Get Back On Track

 Start 2012 off on the right foot!  Follow these 5 simple steps:

By Caroline Mathis RD/LD

1)   Bust out that food journal
  • Food diaries are the best way to raise self-awareness about exactly what and how much you are putting in your mouth.  The diary can help you pinpoint exactly where you might have some room for improvement.  Don’t wait till the end of the day to document.  Record your food and serving sizes after each meal and snack.  At the end of the day, take a look.  Did you eat enough veggies?  Did you eat a piece of fresh fruit?  How about those serving sizes?  This information is key to help you make some healthy changes!
2)   Fill ‘er up!
  • We tend to drink less water in the winter months because we just don’t feel as thirsty.  Many people confuse hunger with thirst.  Drinking water 30 minutes before your meal will help you feel full and prevent you from over eating.  Your goal is at least 64 ounces a day
3)   Fiber is your friend
  • Goal 30 + grams per day
    • Choose a high fiber cereal to start your day (one that has at least 5 grams of fiber per serving)
    • Add bran cereal or Fiber One to your favorite whole grain cereal
    • Add a piece of fruit during your date
    • At 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed to your oatmeal
    • Add a serving a raw vegetables as a snack (carrot sticks, cucumber slices, broccoli with low fat ranch dressing, bell peppers with hummus
4)   Eat a piece of fresh fruit and something green and leafy everyday
  • Fresh produce is a great way to get your vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  Consuming fresh fruits and veggies is also an easy way to fill up on minimal calories.  In addition to being nutrition powerhouses, these guys are loaded with fiber too!
5)   Protein: 60 grams a day
  • Protein is essential for staying full and maintaining lean body mass.  Think skinless chicken breast, lean ham, lean turkey, extra lean red meat, low sodium deli meats, eggs, low fat cheese, low fat puddings, low fat cottage cheese and natural peanut butter.  These foods can help you easily reach 60 grams of protein a day without having to use powder supplements or bars.

New Year New You with Dottie McClain

If you missed Dottie’s first support group webinar on January 17th, you can watch it here. It was a great turnout! Dottie spent time talking about creating life long habits instead of the same old new year’s resolutions.

If your not on the webinar support updates list, you can get signed up at so you don’t miss the next one.

Disclaimer: Please note that there's no guarantee of getting the same results as each of these patients. Specific results vary by individual patient.