Eating After Bariatric Surgery
Weight loss surgery isn’t a ‘quick fix’ or a certainty that you will lose weight. It is a tool to help your weight loss. Successful weight loss will be entirely down to you making good dietary choices and being as physically active as possible. In the initial period after surgery you will only be able to eat very small portions and will probably not feel hungry. Both these factors may change with time.
It is important to realise that we don’t always eat because we are hungry. We might eat out of habit or because we have learned to turn to food as a comfort when we are bored, or upset, or even happy. This “head hunger” does not disappear with surgery and you must learn to overcome this if you want to be successful with your weight loss.
You should start to practice the following skills in preparation for surgery. These are designed to help you adapt to life after the operation.
- Have three small meals a day. Choose quality over quantity – go for healthy, great tasting, textured food in smaller but delicious servings.
- Avoid snacking between meals unless you are genuinely hungry. Try to choose a piece of fruit or other healthy option.
- Eat slowly: put a small amount of food in your mouth at a time and chew this very well. Eating at a table without any distractions (no TV) and putting down cutlery between mouthfuls can help.
- Do not aim to eat until you are ‘full’. After surgery, overeating will stretch your stomach pouch, causing discomfort and may make you vomit.
- Do not drink with meals. Wait at least 30 minutes after a meal before you have a drink. Make sure you have at least 2 litres of fluid a day.
- Avoid all fizzy drinks.
- Choose textured foods that satisfy your stomach. Drinking high calorie liquids or eating foods that ‘melt’ (crisps, chocolates, cakes, biscuits, ice-cream) will mean that you won’t lose weight. These foods slip straight through, don’t make you full and result in a very high calorie intake. Your dietician will provide information on appropriate ‘textured’ foods.
- Get out and be active! Swap computer and TV time with active time to improve fitness and energy levels and get the most out of your weight loss.
Certain foods can be a problem for some people. These can include chewy meats, soft white bread, rice, fibrous fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds. These should be avoided at the beginning and re-introduced slowly once a ‘normal’ diet has been established. Everyone is different as to what they can manage and you will need to find out what is right for you by trial and error.
You will be given lots of help and information about the pre and post-operative diets that need to be kept to by our dieticians and nurses.