For those struggling with weight loss, the choice of doing gastric bypass, gastric sleeve, or other bariatric surgery has a proven track record of being highly effective. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. No, it’s far from that. The reason people choose to do bariatric surgery is NOT because they don’t want to exercise or diet. Rather, it’s the fact that so many have struggled with weight loss DESPITE their attempts in improving exercise and diet.
Bariatric surgery is a tool that can overcome these challenges. It’s not just an operation, but a restructuring of one’s love/hate relationship with food. It will fundamentally change the way your body works, and has a high chance of success, but we know it’s not easy. A big part of successful recovery in the short-term and long-term comes down to diet. Here are our top tips on creating a successful diet after weight loss surgery.
Before we begin though, just remember to follow the guidelines of your surgeon which contain important notes about specific things to avoid (for example, using straws during recovery).
DIET TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL RECOVERY AFTER BARIATRIC SURGERY
#1: SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE: Immediately after surgery, your diet is going to become drastically different and you’re going to be severely calorie-restricted (follow the guidelines of your surgeon). The key is to go slow and steady: you don’t want to put too much stress on your stomach at once. Eat very small meals throughout the day to achieve this. First, you’ll be starting with liquid foods like yogurts and jello. When you are able to, you will gradually eat harder food. Foods that can be broken down into very small bite sizes are preferred, such as ground meat.
#2: HYDRATE THE RIGHT WAY:Drinking water is going to be crucial, but you don’t want to chug water. Focus on sipping water between meals (don’t use a straw since it can give you excess air). Get into the habit of sipping water rather than taking big gulps of water as you may have been used to in the past. This will help avoid dehydration and avoid complications of over-burdening your stomach. It will take more time in your day to drink water this way, but think of it as your main job during recovery and don’t worry about much else.
#3: HIT YOUR PROTEIN GOALS:Your surgeon will set daily protein goals during your recovery. Protein is crucial to maintaining muscle mass. We are proud of the fact that GENEPRO has been recommended by the staff of various bariatric surgery centers as a protein solution. During the early stage post-surgery, eating things like meat can be incredibly difficult. Nausea and vomiting are commonplace. Patients have had success mixing unflavored GENEPRO with water or their beverage of choice to aid in meeting their protein goals.
#4: BUILD HABITS THAT SET YOU UP FOR SUCCESS:Take note of things like regularly drinking water, taking smaller bites, and eating smaller meals. As you recover, you are going to want to make an effort to maintain these habits. For some people, counting calories may be helpful. If possible, it’s better to avoid alcoholic beverages as well, especially during the early stages.
DIET TIPS DURING THE POST-RECOVERY PHASE
#5: BUILD A BALANCED DIET.After a few weeks (length depends on the type of surgery), you will havetechnicallymade a recovery. Some people think of this as the “honeymoon” phase. However, your body has not yet truly recovered. Also, at this point, you will have achieved some of your weight loss goals, but it’s far from over. As you regain your appetite, it’s tempting to eat french fries and burgers, but the key is balance, balance, balance. Follow the guidelines of your surgeon, but you can keep this general idea in mind of aiming for: 1/3 starches, 1/3 proteins, and 1/3 veggies/fruits. It will help to continue keeping the bite sizes small (think chicken noodle soup instead of a whole fried chicken!).
#6: INCREASE MUSCLE MASS.Although not a diet tip per se, exercise is key to building muscle mass that will enable long-term weight loss. No need to go overboard. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise a day. It’s okay if it’s just walking. The idea here is not to worry about burning calories, but instead: maintaining/building muscle! At this point, you’ll be getting more of the protein you need from foods, but you can supplement with GENEPRO as needed.
DIET TIPS FOR LONG-TERM WEIGHT-LOSS SUCCESS
#7: EXPERIMENTATION.As you continue making your recovery, it will be wise to experiment with different types of foods. Remember, your body has fundamentally changed from the surgery. Some foods you may tolerate better than others. Try different types of meats and starches to see which ones settle the best. Focus on foods that are low in fat, sugar, and excess calories. Humans are naturally designed to benefit from a diverse diet. Also, this experimentation phase will help you build a solid foundation for a long-term diet that keeps the weight off.
#8: STAY MOTIVATED.Imagine yourself 1 year after surgery. How about 5 years after surgery? How would you look and feel? In the long-term, creating a good diet and being consistent is important, but in our opinion you don’t need to worry about creating a strict diet plan and even counting calories. If you make it too hard on yourself, it’s easier to revert back to old habits. Rather than worrying about the specifics of your diet, think instead about the habits that you’ve built up to get to where you are. That means eating small & balanced meals, drinking water, and exercising.
Remind yourself why you decided to get weight loss surgery in the first place. Don’t give in to temptation and don’t make excuses for yourself. For example, if you’re at thanksgiving dinner, don’t choose to eat something just because “it’s a holiday”. That can be a slippery slope. But also, don’t forget to remind yourself of all of your past successes (it’s too easy to dwell on past mistakes and forget about past wins).
In the long run, you have to believe that you are a different person than you were before. You have a different relationship with food. Maybe food isn’t such a dominant force in your life anymore. Maybe it’s secondary to other important things in your life and you don’t think about it much. Or maybe you’ll find yourself enjoying food more than ever before with your new diet, trying out new healthy things.
Remember, it’s not going to be easy. But if you create guidelines and rules for yourself and follow them, you will create habits that will last a lifetime. Plus, it won’t be as bad as you think. We believe that you’re going to truly love your new life ahead of you!