Bariatric surgery is a decision many people dealing with obesity choose to go through, but the transition back to a healthy, normal diet can be challenging.
Dietitians at UW Health saw the need for their weight loss patients to learn nutritious recipes so they created a series of free cooking classes.
"We want to promote the best possible outcome for the patients and as dietitians, our goal is to empower them to make healthier food choices," said Wendy Hahn, UW Health dietitian.
One of those patients who regularly attends the classes is Stephanie Wild, who went through gastro sleeve surgery in February, which removes about 70 percent of the stomach.
"I've struggled with weight my whole life. Nothing was working long term," Wild said.
She said it's been a process getting used the liquid diets and restricted meals.
"It's hard to kind of separate food as pleasure from food as fuel, but you kind of have to learn to do that," Wild said.
Helping make that distinction is what UW Health's cooking class is all about. They start with liquid foods and work their way up to solids.
"Today, we're doing the liquid blender shaker class, featuring protein shakes and different additives. Protein kind of serves as the base of the metabolism for patients to optimize their weight loss," Hahn said.
The class is also a great way to patients to get to know each other and find more support.
"These classes have been great because as we're cooking, we're talking about where we are in our journeys," Wild said.
She's already lost about 80 pounds since her surgery, and is looking forward to getting to her 100 pound goal. She said it will help her get back to a normal lifestyle that she has been missing.
"I can't wait to go on roller coasters this summer. That's something I haven't been able to do in years. I've been out riding my bike, I bought a bike, and I hadn't been on one in eight years," Wild said.
She encourages anyone else struggling with obesity to consider Bariatric surgery as an option.
"It's a really tough road, but the pain of surgery is just temporary. Knowing that you put the work in, the rewards are out there. You can start doing things that you didn't think you were capable of doing anymore," Wild said.
The next series of cooking classes will take place in the fall.
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