In this section:
Changing Eating Habits
Improve your weight loss results both before and after surgery by following some simple food and hydration guidelines.
Weight loss surgery can be a tremendous help in losing weight, but you can’t expect the surgery to do all the work for you. You will need to change the way you eat and drink to ensure that you get the most nutritional value out of your meals and avoid common issues that may arise when eating. After bariatric surgery, you will progress through a series of dietary changes as your body recovers and return to a diet of normal foods after approximately one month.
You can prevent discomfort and maintain nutritional balance after weight loss surgery by following simple guidelines on what to eat and how to eat.
Focus on Nutrition
Make sure you choose lean, low-calorie foods that pack an impressive nutritional punch. Lean meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products should form the bulk of your diet. Because protein is an especially essential nutrient after bariatric surgery, you should always keep a healthy, high-protein snack with you. You should also replace one meal each day with a protein drink, which help you control calories, get more fluids and increase your daily protein intake.
As you begin to eat a diet of normal foods again, you will continue to divide your plate into sections dedicated to the most important nutritional elements just as you did during the soft food diet. Use the 3-2-1 rule for every meal:
- 3 bites of protein
- 2 bites of non-starchy vegetable
- 1 bite of carbohydrate
Take It Slow
After weight loss surgery, you’ll need to pay just as much attention to how you eat as what you eat. It’s important to eat slowly and take 20 to 30 minutes for each meal. Take small bites, chew thoroughly and put your fork down between bites.
Some foods will be intolerable to your body, while others won’t provide enough nutrition in small amounts to make them worth including in your diet. You will need to introduce new foods to your diet gradually to ensure that they do not cause discomfort. Try only one new food per meal so that you can easily identify what caused a problem. Track every food you eat in your journal to make it easier to identify the culprit of reflux or diarrhea if your reaction is delayed.
If you have any questions or concerns about your eating habits after weight loss surgery, do not hesitate to contact Dr. Ayoola for guidance.
Your mind-set can actually hurt your ability to lose weight and lessen the success of your weight loss surgery.
It may surprise you to consider the behaviors you need to change in order to ensure successful post-surgery weight loss. Seemingly inconsequential daily activities and mind-sets can actually hurt your ability to lose weight and lessen the success of your weight loss surgery.
- Keep it clean: Remove all foods from your home that you should no longer be eating and that present strong temptations for you. Then, stock up on healthy snacks that are appropriate for after your surgery.
- Put it in writing: Keep a journal of every single piece of food you eat. You can also track the times you eat and your emotions before, during, and after eating. Then, look through the journal and try to identify any dangerous habits you should break.
- Give yourself an alternative: For some of us, stress, boredom, loneliness, and sadness result in overindulgence. Write a list of all the activities you can do by yourself and with others when you have these feelings that will help you avoid eating when you shouldn’t. Be sure to keep the list on your refrigerator for inspiration.
- Control your shopping: Prepare your meal plans and grocery list in advance, and when you go grocery shopping, buy only those items that are on your list. Try to shop after a meal so that you're not hungry when you go in—this will help you avoid tempting foods and impulse buys. If your grocery store has regular sample days or times, try to avoid them.
- Set goals: Set goals for both your short-term and long-term weight loss. Write them down so that you're firmly committed to them. Always make sure your goals are reasonable.
- Break bad sedentary habits: While we'll deal more with activity changes on the next page, they still bear mentioning on the behavior modification list. If you tend to be a sedentary person, you need to begin being more active. Limit the amount of television and computer time you allow yourself each day and start to take part in more active endeavors. You will not only increase your weight loss, but you'll also lower your blood pressure, reduce your risk of blood clots, and reduce your stress level.
- Learn how to handle slips: If you fall off the wagon and cheat, stop before you have finished. Taking a few bites of something bad doesn’t commit you to complete follow-through and consumption of the entire portion. Also, don’t just chalk it up to a bad day that's already ruined. Instead, set a game plan for making up for the slip with your eating and exercise that day.
Take some simple steps to increase your daily activity and you’ll decrease your risk for surgical complications and improve your long-term weight loss.
Activity is an important part of your pre- and post-surgery life. Not only does activity help you lose weight faster, it also helps you stave off cancer, high blood pressure, and diabetes; lowers your cholesterol; reduces your risk of osteoporosis; and helps keep you looking healthy, fit, and trim. But daily activity does not have to mean a grueling workout at the gym. Your daily activity can be both simple and rewarding if you follow a couple of easy steps:
- Get a pedometer: You need to walk a total of 10,000 steps each day after you recover from surgery. This equals roughly 4 miles and does not have to be done all in one shot. The steps you take in the kitchen while preparing dinner, the steps you take to the mailbox, and the steps you take on the treadmill all work cumulatively toward this total. Wearing a pedometer will help you count all your steps.
- Keep a journal: Accountability is one of the keys to keeping up with your daily exercise needs, and a journal helps keep you accountable. Write down all your activity in the journal every day. Look at the days that you failed to be as active—was there a reason? Is there something you could have done to prevent it?
- Start slow: Do not try to take on too much at once. Start slowly with walks around the store, walks through the parking lot as you go into the store, and walking up stairs. As you get more fit, you can increase your exercise.
- Make an appointment: Planning out when you will exercise and what exercise you will do will help you become more committed. Write down the exercise plans on your calendar and treat them as you would any other obligation. You should be trying for 60 minutes of activity every day. You can break that up into chunks if it helps.
- Understand what to do: You need to combine both strength training and aerobic exercise in your weekly schedule. Walking, biking, and swimming for a half hour at a time are perfect for aerobic exercise. Resistance bands and weight lifting (after proper training) for 15 to 20 minutes three times per week are perfect for toning.
Recording Your Journey
Keep a record of your weight loss to help you keep on track and give you a way to assess how far you have come.
Use a Journal to Stay on Track with Weight Loss
Remember when you were young and your journal was your bastion in the emotional storm known as adolescence? Even if you didn’t have a journal, chances are you wrote notes to friends or doodled on notebooks as a way to express yourself, solve problems and get things off your chest.
Journaling during your post-surgery weight loss can serve all the same purposes that teenage journaling, note writing and doodling served when you were younger—and can help ensure you have a successful weight loss. Yes, you heard that right, according to the National Weight Control Registry many people who journal about their food intake enjoy more successful weight loss because they hold themselves accountable for the food they eat. They watch the types of food they are eating and the portion sizes and can spot trends that may become roadblocks to weight loss.
Of course, your journal doesn’t have to be about the food you are eating, the exercise you do and nothing else. You can include inspirational poems, pictures and quotes in your journal so you have an ideal source of comfort and motivation when you are down. You can keep track of your thoughts and accomplishments so you can appreciate what an amazing journey you are taking and what a tremendous task you are accomplishing. You can track your progress, learn from your pitfalls and create an emotional safe-haven for all your thoughts.
As you start to journal, remember that a journal is only as effective a tool as you allow it to be. Since this is your personal, private place, don’t be afraid to let out all of your feelings and make sure you are always completely honest in your journal. Without honesty, the journal becomes more a work of fiction and loses much of its ability to be a resource for your progress.