Each Monday I sit down and find a topic that I believe will be useful to the weight loss surgery community. I search for ideas that I believe will educate clients and help them to navigate the waters post-bariatric surgery. This week I want to bring to you some ideas of what to prioritize after surgery and what “not to do” after surgery. It’s just a gentle reminder of how to reach our goals, both short and long term.
Let’s start with the importance of protein. In order to heal faster and prevent muscle loss, it’s important to consume sufficient protein. Protein shakes are fine in the beginning but I like to see people transition pretty quickly to whole, live, fresh, natural food. Instead of reaching for a protein shake for breakfast, prepare some scrambled eggs. Instead of having a shake for lunch, prepare a chicken salad at home with an olive oil vinaigrette. It’s better for your health and your wallet.
Make sure to stay hydrated. A lot of my clients don’t feel hungry or thirsty post surgery so I make sure to stress the importance of H20. You need to drink a minimum of 8 glasses of water per day and when you are very newly operated, it can be difficult. I want you to be very focused on how much water you are drinking. Keep track of it and put an app on your phone which reminds you to drink up.
Nutrient deficiencies can occur in post-bariatric surgery clients. Let’s try to prevent them before they occur. Please take your bariatric vitamins. I believe that food comes first and supplements are like a good insurance policy. You cannot supplement your way out of a bad diet but we can add to our good diet by taking high-quality bariatric vitamins.
Keeping a log or a journal after surgery is a really good way to get to know your new anatomy. It can help you figure out food sensitivities and understand better what works and what doesn’t work for you. You can go back to the early days and see what you were eating when the pounds were falling off. You can also track your exercise, water intake, your feelings, and your sleep schedule. It gets you to slow down and spend a few moments with yourself.
All of my clients have the advantage that they are able to communicate with me whenever they feel the need. I am an RHN, registered holistic nutritionist, who specializes in post-bariatric nutrition. If you have a nutritionist or a dietician included in your weight loss surgery plan, use them. Stay close to them. Reach out to them and let them know any concerns that you have. Share your food log with them. Make regular appointments with them. They are an important part of your journey and they can help you to reach your weight loss goals through good nutritional habits.
Now let’s move to the next section which is what NOT to do as a post-bariatric client.
Don’t speed through your post-op guidelines. What I mean to say is that I don’t want you going from soups to stews overnight. There is a progression that needs to be respected in order to allow sufficient time for your newly operated stomach to heal. You will get to the stage where you can eat everything but don’t rush it. Time passes quickly and you will get there before you know it. In the beginning, go slowly, and follow your guidelines. Your tummy will thank you for it.
Don’t allow old habits to creep back into your new healthy lifestyle. You have worked so hard to have your surgery and to lose weight. If you go back to those habits of drinking your calories or eating refined and processed carbohydrates (slider foods), you are setting yourself up for a weight re-gain. Try to incorporate your new healthy habits in a way where they become your lifestyle. You are in this for the long haul and those french fries are not worth the damage they can cause if you begin to eat them again on a regular basis.
Don’t compare yourself to others who have had weight loss surgery. We are all at a different starting point, different age, different gender, different metabolism. This is your personal journey and if your scale is moving in the right direction, you are winning. Don’t be looking over your shoulder at others who are losing weight at a different rate.
Bariatric surgery isn’t a race and there is no finish line. It is a lifelong journey to improved health markers. Enjoy the trip. If you’ve had a few bad days, get back on track again. Sit down and make a plan. You have a new opportunity each and every day. Grab a hold of it.
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About the Author: Sheri Burke is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Bariatric Surgery Coordinator at International Patient Facilitators in Tijuana and Cancun, Mexico. She has worked with bariatric surgery clients for over 10 years and especially enjoys providing nutritional guidance to pre and post bariatric clients. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two teens and cooking up a nutritional storm in the kitchen.
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