Weight loss surgery alone can't make you fit; it is simply intended to jump-start you on your way to a healthier weight. Following surgery, you will need to commit to a whole new lifestyle approach after your surgery, including:
- Eating smaller, healthier meals.
- Exercising or participating in physical activity every day.
- Maintaining a positive mood and attitude.
- Taking vitamins and supplements as directed by your doctor.
- Scheduling medical follow-ups as necessary.
- Taking personal responsibility for your health.
The number one goal is to improve your health! With that in mind, we urge you to adopt the following principles:
- Try to schedule your meals three times a day. Eat regularly, and watch out for snacking.
- Allow 20-30 minutes for each meal. Chew food slowly and thoroughly.
- Stop drinking 30 minutes prior to a meal and avoid drinking during a meal – you may resume drinking 30 minutes after you complete a meal. Drinking while you eat flushes food through the pouch too quickly, preventing the stretch of receptors in the pouch that send the “you are full” signal to the brain.
- Eat foods high in protein first. Aim for at least 60 grams of protein a day.
- Prevent dehydration and constipation! Sip at least 60 oz. of fluid a day.
- Sip only decaffeinated, noncarbonated, low-calorie or zero-calorie beverages. Avoid straws as they can cause you to swallow air leading to uncomfortable gas in your pouch.
- Avoid alcohol and tobacco as they can damage the sensitive lining of the pouch and stomach.
- Avoid sugar in general, including sodas and alcoholic drinks.
- Do not take steroids, aspirin, anti-inflammatory medications or any over-the-counter drugs without your surgeon’s approval. Taking these medications can cause ulcers to form. Call your weight loss surgery surgeon if another physician prescribes these for you.
Tips for Healthy Eating Habits
Eat slowly. Immediately after surgery, the pouch is swollen and needs time to heal. Eating too quickly may cause you to overfill your new pouch, which may cause discomfort, nausea and vomiting.
Drink small amounts. Learn to sip slowly. Try not to fill your entire mouth with fluid. Use a 1-ounce (30ml) medicine cup to help determine a safe amount.
Stop eating before you feel full. Do not overeat. Listen to your body. If you are unable to recognize fullness, eat only the recommended amount and no more in one sitting. Eating and drinking too much will eventually stretch your pouch and prevent you from reaching maximum weight loss. It may also cause nausea and vomiting.
Maintain hydration. Consume at least 60 ounces of fluid during the course of the day. Try to consume protein-rich fluid (1% or skim milk, protein supplements, etc.) as half of your fluid intake between meals. Avoid carbonated beverages. Increase fluid intake until urine is clear.
Post-Surgery Eating Guidelines
It is normal during the initial post-op time to have little or no appetite. At first, it is likely for you to take in far less food than you need, but for this limited time, it doesn’t present a big problem. It is important to keep yourself hydrated using low to no calorie liquids and begin using food to teach yourself new habits that will keep you healthy and promote steady weight loss. You should not force yourself to eat. Here are a few guidelines regarding what you should and should not be eating following weight-loss surgery.
Protein. Protein is needed by the body to build and maintain tissue, promote wound healing and fuel the metabolic engine that burns fat. Over the long term, protein will help preserve muscle tissue so weight can be lost as fat. The body does not store protein; it only absorbs what is needed from the diet. Thus, it is necessary for you to take in some protein with every meal to insure adequate supply for the body’s changing needs.
Eat protein-rich foods first at every meal to promote healing from your surgery and to help you maintain lean muscle as you lose weight. The recommended intake after surgery is 60-75 grams of protein each day. It is difficult for the some patients to get sufficient protein through the diet, at least for the first few months after surgery. It is possible through careful planning to get the needed 60-75 grams of protein through diet, but most of us cannot plan like that on a daily basis. Therefore, it is often necessary to use protein drinks to add the needed protein. As you try to eat different foods, remember the limitations of your pouch.
Examples: Foods like lean red meat, pork, chicken and turkey without skin, fish, eggs and cottage cheese are high in protein and low in fat.
Sugar. Foods with added sugar are high in calories and low in nutritional value. Even in small amounts, foods with sugar make weight loss difficult. Foods high in sugar do not provide many vitamins and minerals for the calories. Since food intake after surgery is limited, it is important that every food contribute something of nutritional value.
Fiber. Fiber can be found in foods such as bran, popcorn, and raw vegetables. These are bulky foods that take up too much room to be processed in the pouch and can get stuck. Fiber pills and laxatives should be avoided unless advised by a physician. If your physician recommends taking fiber, Benefiber™ is a great source of fiber that can be added to a variety of drinks and soups without danger of blocking your pouch opening.
Fat. Too much dietary fat delays emptying of the pouch and may cause reflux; a back-up of stomach acid and food into the esophagus causing heartburn. Fat can also cause diarrhea, nausea or stomach discomfort. Fried foods and fatty meats are to be avoided. We don’t recommend cooking with fats, but if you need to, use monounsaturated fats such as olive oil and canola oil.