The decision to have bariatric surgery is a major one. As most of us know, losing weight can be quite a struggle! For those who suffer from obesity, they are embarking on a new chapter in their life, one that is healthier, more active, and allows them to do things that they have never before done! It is exciting, but it also comes with additional decisions.
There are strict guidelines to follow each and every day so that the weight is not gained back. It is easy to fall back into old habits, so someone who has had bariatric surgery must have a plan for healthy choices that they plan to follow forever. From early in the morning until late at night, each choice must be carefully considered in order to ensure that it supports life after bariatric surgery. It is important to remember that while bariatric surgery assists with weight loss, it is ultimately the permanent lifestyle changes that are made afterward that contribute to one's overall health.
Immediately Following Bariatric Surgery
After a person has undergone bariatric surgery, pureed foods and liquids are consumed for the first few weeks. The size of the stomach has been greatly reduced, and only a small amount of food, just a few tablespoons, are able to be eaten at a time. Softer, gentle foods are gradually added to the diet, and then regular foods can be consumed. It is important to drink enough water throughout the day, about 30 minutes after eating.
Typically, your doctor will recommend exactly how much and when you should drink. You'll also have to take vitamin and mineral supplements on a daily basis to treat or prevent any possible nutritional deficiencies. After surgery, you will be drinking high protein liquids as well. The following tips can help immediately following bariatric surgery:
- Take small sips of water rather than drinking quickly.
- Avoid caffeine, sugar, and carbonated drinks, as these can irritate your stomach.
- Consume at least 60 grams of protein daily.
What is Next for a Healthy Lifestyle?
During the weight loss phase, you will be eating about 600-800 calories a day. At this point, you'll be slowly adding high fiber foods back into your diet. Your doctor will advise you as to when you are ready to consume pureed or soft foods. These foods are easy to digest and high in protein, such as lean, pureed meats, cottage cheese, and eggs. Some important points to remember are the following:
- Don't drink any liquids 15 minutes before eating, as this can cause you to feel full too quickly.
- Consume foods in the following order: protein, vegetables, and finally, carbohydrates.
- Eat as slowly as possible. Put your utensil down after each bite, and chew slowly before moving on.
Maintaining Your Healthy Lifestyle After Bariatric Surgery
You'll need to know how to keep making healthy choices for the rest of your life! The goal is to adopt a new lifestyle and to stick with it. The last thing you want to do is to fall off the wagon and regain the weight that you worked so hard to lose. There are several things that you'll have to incorporate into your daily routine.
- Keep a Food Journal - it is good practice to keep track of everything that you eat and drink. Keep a food journal where you write down all of your meals, as well as how you feel before, during, and after eating. This is one of the best tools to help you stay on track!
- Don't Consume Empty Calories - drinking sodas or sugary drinks that have no nutritional benefits will slow down your progress. Make sure everything that you eat or drink has proper nutrition and does not hinder your weight loss.
- Eat Plenty of Protein - protein is the key to feeling satisfied at mealtimes! It builds muscle mass and helps keep you satisfied in between meals.
- Don't Eat Mindlessly - sit down at the table, and turn off the television! Mindless eating leads to consuming too many calories. You want to remember not to eat on the go, or grab "convenience" foods if you are busy. Plan each food choice ahead of time so that you are always prepared.
- Trade Simple Carbohydrates for Healthier Alternatives - white bread, sugar, pasta, and white rice are all simple carbs that cause a spike in blood sugar levels, causing you to feel hungry soon after eating. Reach for alternatives instead, such as whole grains.
Your Exercise Regimen for a Healthy Lifestyle
Exercise is a key part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle! Ask your doctor how soon after surgery it is safe to begin exercising. Remember, you are not expected to take on too much too soon! Start with a simple routine, such as a short walk down the street, or 10 minutes a day on the treadmill. You'll be pleasantly surprised at your progress. As you continue to build your strength and shed pounds, find an activity that you enjoy. This will make it easier to exercise as often as possible. You may find that bike riding is what appeals to you, or other low impact exercises like yoga or lifting light weights may be what you prefer. Find what you like, and continue working at it each day!
Find the Support That You Need
One of the most important things that you can do is to never try to go at it alone! Find a support group, so you can interact with others who are on the same journey that you are toward a healthy lifestyle. Talk to your friends and family members as much as possible, and let them give you support and encouragement along the way. Life after bariatric surgery can be much easier if you share your experience with those around you.