How to Plan Your Meals After Weight Loss Surgery
Weight loss surgery is a life changing experience that is also a lifetime commitment. Because of that, it's important to think about life after weight loss surgery. You’ll need to adjust your eating habits to lose weight and keep it off.
Weight loss surgery patients who have the most success rely on meal planning. While every individual who undergoes bariatric surgery will have slightly different dietary needs, we have put together some essential tips to help you plan your meals after surgery.
Diet Changes Before AND After Weight Loss Surgery
Planning Before Weight Loss Surgery
If you are Dr. Howard’s patient, he and his Registered Dietitian will spend time before scheduling a weight loss surgery to discuss the adjustments that you’ll need to make. One of the main points is your diet and knowing what you can and cannot eat both before surgery and after surgery. You need to be prepared for what life will be like after the surgery is complete when it comes to eating.
The dietitian is also likely to have you start a meal plan before surgery to reduce the amount of fat in your liver, which can reduce surgical complications. Eating a healthy diet before surgery will also give you some indication of the types of foods that would be good for you as you go through the weight loss process.
Meal Planning After Weight Loss Surgery
In the days, weeks and months after your surgery, your entire life will seemingly revolve around food. You will need to make sure you meet any requirements your doctor has for the calories and nutrients you need. However, you will not be able to handle a meal of the size you had before surgery.
Planning ahead for what you will eat at each meal and snack helps you stay focused and avoid just grabbing whatever is handy. It also makes sure you’re getting the nutrition you need while staying on the path to weight loss.
Stages of Your Diet After Weight Loss Surgery
It will take some time to get back to eating solid food after weight loss surgery. And when you do, your food options may be different based than you used to eat. There are a few stages of meal intake after surgery:
- Liquid Diet - In the early days after surgery, you will be on a liquid diet. At this point, the goal will be to get an adequate amount of hydration and nutrition in your body while allowing your digestive system to heal itself.
- Pureed Diet - The next step will involve eating pureed foods. These pureed items may include food from all food groups. However, you will need to avoid certain things such as seeds, nuts, overly fatty foods, and spicy seasonings.
- Soft Diet - After your body has begun handling pureed foods well and healing has already started, you will move to soft, easy-to-chew foods.
- Solid Food - Eventually, you will be able to eat solid food once again. Beginning to eat solid foods is a crucial step because you don’t want to overdo it with food that is too hard to digest or meals that are too large, rich, or fatty.
What You Should Not Eat After Weight Loss Surgery
The most important thing after your surgery is to avoid foods that over-tax the digestive system. Some foods that are particularly bothersome after gastric bypass include:
- Highly-fibrous vegetables like celery, broccoli, and cabbage
- Corn or popcorn
- Carbonated beverages
- Tough meats
- Fried food
Some of these foods, such as bread, can often be re-added in small amounts to your food options after several months. It will always be important to watch portions and avoid foods that make you feel bad.
For the lap band many tough foods and bread foods can get stuck. For the sleeve, most foods are eventually tolerated well, but the above foods still need to wait until after complete healing of the stomach.
Foods that You Should Eat After Weight Loss Surgery
You must eat an overall highly-nutritive protein rich diet after bariatric surgery. Doing so will keep you energized and let your body heal itself while still promoting weight loss. A few of the foods you will likely enjoy after weight loss surgery (when your doctor says it is okay, of course) include the following:
- Lower-fiber vegetables including lettuce, tomato and squash
- Lean protein such as poultry, eggs and fish
- Healthy grains like rice and oats
Putting Together your Post-Weight Loss Surgery Meal Plan
Once you have re-added most foods to your diet, it is time to build a meal plan. You will create a meal plan for each day. Take the number of calories that your doctor wants you to eat each day and divide it into meals that are comfortable for you and work into your daily plan. For instance, MedlinePlus.gov recommends six smaller meals a day after weight loss surgery so that you don’t end up feeling really hungry, and tempted to make poor food choices, during the day.
Utilizing protein shakes or smoothies is a great way to start the day – giving you an abundance of nutrition without overdoing the calories.
Once you have your week-long plan, you can go to the grocery store with your list to purchase what you’ll need.
Additional Dietary Tips After Weight Loss Surgery
These tips will also serve you well as you get onto a meal plan after surgery.
- Eat and drink at a leisurely pace. Slower eating will help you digest easier and you won’t feel overfull after just a few bits.
- Eat small bites of food that you chew thoroughly. This aids digestion.
- Avoid drinking liquids with your meal. It fills your stomach and keeps you from eating enough healthy food.
- Portion control is always vital and the portions may be different than what you’re used to. Talk to your doctor or nutritionist about the right portion sizes for you. They may be different from what’s listed on a package.
- If a particular food makes you feel sick or doesn’t work well with your body, avoid it in the future.
- Do not eat high-fat or overly-sweet foods as these are most likely to cause you problems.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your digestive system working well.
- Take vitamins or supplements as directed.
As you move forward after your surgery, you may have days that eating seems like more of a chore than a joy. Just realize that with some adjustments to the way you approach eating, you will find it easier to lose weight, and your entire mindset about food will change. One day you will be able to enjoy certain foods that you love without worrying that you’re going to overeat and hurt yourself or cause weight gain. Following a healthy meal plan is a lifestyle change that will improve every aspect of your life.
If you’re ready to learn more about whether weight loss surgery is right for you, schedule an appointment with Dr. Howard, located in The Woodlands, serving patients in the Greater Houston area and throughout Texas.
Categories: Weight Loss