Healthy Eating after Bariatric Surgery

After bariatric surgery, the way you eat will never be the same again.  You will chew differently, eat smaller quantities and even feel different sensations of fullness than you did before.  Food may even taste different to you and you may lose your desire for some foods that you used to love. Learning new ways to eat will take time so let’s start by looking at some general guidelines for eating that you will follow from this point forward.

Plan Your Meals

Planning meals is one of the most important skills you can master after weight loss surgery. It’s important to know what you’re going to eat ahead of time. Carry protein supplements and healthy snacks with you and get into the habit of eating on a schedule even if you don’t feel particularly hungry at the time.  It is still okay to enjoy eating and look forward to the taste and sensations of good food.  However, plan your meals to include the foods that are important to you and stay clear of convenience foods and spontaneity in your diet.

Focus on Protein

You need to consume a minimum 60 to 80 grams of lean protein daily. To begin with you will get most of your protein from bariatric protein shakes. Over time you will increase the amount of protein coming from lean meat and fish. Focusing on protein means always eating your protein first and recording protein intake to ensure you are reaching at least your minimum daily requirements to stay healthy. 

Continue Controlling Carbs

Carbohydrates are a cheap and easy component of a typical American diet and as such have achieved more importance than they deserve.  Carbohydrates are in vegetables, fruits, grains almost everything wheat except meat and fish. It is almost impossible to avoid carbohydrates but it is very possible to limit and avoid sugars, pasta, processed grains, starchy vegetables and refined products.  Getting to know your way around a nutrition label is the best way to understand how carbohydrates are included in packaged foods and help you to maintain control of them

Hydrate Well, Hydrate Often

After surgery drinking a minimum of 64oz of fluid will be quite challenging. With the restriction on your intake from your surgery, chugging a bottle of water when you are thirsty is a thing of the past.   Instead you must carry water with you wherever you go and sip from it throughout the day.  Measure your fluid intake to ensure you are getting enough.  Avoid soda, sport drinks, sugar-added drinks, alcohol and carbonated beverages. Lightly flavored water early and often is the new rule for maintaining proper hydration.

Stop drinking 15 minutes before a meal and resume 30 minutes after.  Water while eating can push food through the band if you have a gastric band or fill you up too quickly so you don’t get enough nutrients if you have a sleeve.  In both cases it can lead to nausea and vomiting so follow the no drinking while eating rule.

Keep a Food Journal

As you learn new eating behaviors, keeping a food journal can save you a lot of discomfort. You won’t be keeping the journal for the rest of your life so don’t look on it as an ongoing chore. Instead consider its time saving benefits. Knowing if you have eaten enough protein or had enough fluid for the day will maintain your health and help you heal faster and not develop nutritional deficiencies.

As you progress your diet and try new foods, knowing exactly what you ate a few hours before you get an upset stomach can help you avoid repeating the experience.  Having an accurate record to show a nutritionist if your weight loss is too slow or your weight starts to creep up will help them locate the problem quickly and provide you a solution.

The longer you remain committed to your food journal, the longer you’ll remain mindful of the foods you eat in the course of your days. Once your eating habits are ingrained you can reduce your reliance on a food journal.

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