Originally published Saturday, July 30, in Our Town for the Tracy Press.
This week marked the launch of the revised edition of “Before & After: Living and Eating Well After Weight-Loss Surgery” by Susan Maria Leach.
Leach’s first edition, affectionately known by many in bariatric circles as “the pink book,” has gotten a lot of coverage in this column as I’ve traveled on my journey toward a healthy weight.
I first discovered Leach through her Web site, www.bariatriceating.com, an online superstore of all things a bariatric patient could want or need. It didn’t take me long to find out that her promise of “great taste and good nutrition” was more than just mere words.
The pink book was waiting for me, along with a shipment of protein supplements from her company, when I got home from the hospital after having Roux-en-Y gastric-bypass surgery in 2005.
To this day, I credit Leach’s book and products for helping me to achieve my weight-loss goals without sacrificing my health, appearance or energy.
The revised edition, packaged in a light-blue paperback for convenience, is everything its predecessor was and so much more.
The hybrid of diary, no-nonsense advice and cookbook features 35 more recipes and updated information based on research and discoveries in the bariatric field since the original printing in 2004.
“I have a better perspective as a six-year post-op,” Leach said in an interview this week. “I now understand that people don’t do the right thing automatically. I see so many who give it all up for fast food and sugar, and begin a downward spiral again.”
Leach said she’s realized that many people who have suffered from morbid obesity have a difficult time figuring out how to deal with food. She hopes the new edition’s inclusion of meal plans for every stage of post-op eating will help those people adopt healthier eating habits.
“I offer different good food choices for each meal and simple recipes to combine their grocery list items,” Leach said. “My meal plans train people to create new food patterns that they will enjoy eating and will stick to long term.”
The book’s new recipes reflect Leach’s travels and constant quest for food that is fabulous and healthy. One of her favorite additions is the creamy Tuscan white bean soup, featured on Page 132. She said it’s a replica of a soup she enjoyed with her aunt in Tuscany last year.
“It’s a wonderful reminder of a fantastic trip,” she said. “Plus, it’s a 15-minute recipe that can be used in the earliest stages after surgery but will be a family favorite for years!”
In addition to new recipes, the book also features updated versions of previous favorites, like Leach’s light banana bread.
The new banana bread recipe is a perfect example of what is possible when the marketplace broadens its offerings. She replaces the Splenda (sucralose) and protein powder used in her original recipe with Nature Sweet Crystals (maltitol) and California almond flour.
“This superb sugar replacer makes a delicious, healthy loaf that is indistinguishable from a full-sugar, full-fat version,” Leach writes in the recipe’s introduction on Page 263.
Though the original edition of “Before & After” was a financial success for Leach, she hopes readers feel they get something for their money with the second edition.
“Weight loss surgery was not my first choice; it was my last choice,” she said. “It is so important that people understand it is not a diet that ends at a goal weight; it is a new way of life.”