For most people eating sliders is a good thing. Popularized by the American food chain, White Castle, a slider (originally slyder) is a miniature grilled hamburger or cheeseburger on a steamed bun often served with onions and dill pickle and other condiments. They originally sold for a nickel a piece in the 1940s making it affordable to add a side of fries for just pennies. By all accounts this is a good kind of “slider” food.
To the weight loss surgery patient slider foods are the bane of good intentions and ignorance often causing dumping syndrome, weight loss plateaus, and eventually weight gain. Slider foods, to weight loss surgery patients, are soft simple processed carbohydrates of little or no nutritional value that slide right through the surgical stomach pouch without providing nutrition or satiation. The most innocent of slider foods are saltine crackers, often eaten with warm tea or other beverages, to soothe the stomach in illness or while recovering from surgery.
The most commonly consumed slider foods include pretzels, crackers (saltines, graham, Ritz, etc.) filled cracker snacks such as Ritz Bits, popcorn, cheese snacks (Cheetos) or cheese crackers, tortilla chips with salsa, potato chips, sugar-free cookies, cakes, and candy. You will notice these slider foods are often salty and cause dry mouth so they must be ingested with liquid to be palatable. This is how they become slider foods. They are also, most often, void of nutritional value.
For weight loss surgery patients the process of digestion is different than those who have not undergone gastric surgery. When slider foods are consumed they go into the stomach pouch and exit directly into the jejunum where the simple carbohydrate slurry is quickly absorbed and stored by the body. There is little thermic effect in the digestion of simple carbohydrates like there is in the digestion of protein so little metabolic energy is expended. In most cases patients in the phase of weight loss who eat slider foods will experience a weight loss plateau and possibly the setback of weight gain. And sadly, they will begin to believe their surgical stomach pouch is not functioning properly because they never feel fullness or restriction like they experience when eating protein.
The very nature of the surgical gastric pouch is to cause feelings of tightness or restriction when one has eaten enough food. However, when soft simple carbohydrates are eaten this tightness or restriction does not result and one can continue to eat, unmeasured, copious amounts of non-nutritional food without ever feeling uncomfortable.
Many patients turn to slider foods for this very reason. They do not like the discomfort that results when the pouch is full from eating a measured portion of lean animal or dairy protein without liquids. Yet it is this very restriction that is the desired result of the surgery. The discomfort is intended to signal the cessation of eating. Remembering the “Protein First” rule is crucial to weight management with bariatric surgery.
Gastric bypass, gastric banding (lap-band) and gastric sleeve patients are instructed to follow a high protein diet to facilitate healing and promote weight loss. Bariatric centers advise what is commonly known among weight loss surgery patients as the “Four Rules” the most important of which is “Protein First.” That means of all nutrients (protein, carbohydrates, fat and alcohol) the patient is required to eat protein first.
Protein is not always the most comfortable food choice for weight loss surgery patients who feel restriction after eating a very small amount of food. However, for the surgical tool to work correctly a diet rich in protein and low in simple carbohydrate slider foods must be observed. The high protein diet must be followed even after healthy body weight has been achieved in order to maintain a healthy weight and avoid weight regain.