How does bariatric surgery work ? Why do patients lose weight quickly? Let’s chat a bit about why it works and how to get the best results post surgery and what you can do to ensure success.
This type of surgery has a few different aspects to it and one of them is “restriction”. The post bariatric patient eats and feels full very quickly. This is a wonderful thing because it resets the body and gets it used to eating smaller portions. It is a system that is like a portion control device but we need to protect our pouch and take care of it to ensure that it continues to work well in the future.
The bariatric pouch needs to be cared for as this isn’t something you can abuse over and over and expect it to still work for you. Yes, it is true that the bariatric pouch is going to stretch a bit and with time you will be able to enjoy larger portions. Post surgery the inflammation will decrease and you will feel your pouch relax a bit more. This is a time when your pouch takes on its more “normal” size. It will never increase to the size it was prior to surgery but it will relax and stretch out a bit. The surgery tool is still largely intact but there are things we can do to help it continue to do its job long-term.
There are specific foods that are easier to eat post bariatric surgery. These foods are considered “slider foods” and we can eat a lot of them without feeling restriction in the pouch. Slider foods “slip” through the pouch because they are mostly refined, processed carbohydrates and the pouch doesn’t need to do anything to break them down. Think of foods such as crackers, pretzels, chips, popcorn, chocolate, ice-cream, cookies etc. They are easy to over-eat and they don’t make us feel full and satisfied. Now think of a chicken breast. See how dense that sort of food feels in the pouch ? Those are the types of foods which sit in the pouch and continue to keep us full for a long period of time.
So many of us grab onto a concept post surgery and it goes like this … if I eat greek yogurt, I can eat a lot of it and I can even add yummy things into it like fruit and honey. The yogurt is very easy on the stomach and if I eat it slowly, I can eat for a longer period of time and it never makes me feel overly full. On the other hand, that chicken breast is super heavy and after eating a few bites of it, my stomach is on lock down and I cannot eat another bite. Most of us have disordered thinking when it comes to food and we want to continue eating for the pleasure of just eating. This is what a food addict does so in order to break that habit, we need to first understand it and then admit it to ourselves.
There are certain things that we can do post bariatric surgery that will sabotage our weight loss results. We can eat the soft, slider foods and gravitate away from the solid proteins that make us really full. We can eat “other” foods before our protein such as mashed potatoes, creamed vegetables etc. We can drink at the same time as we eat. We can eat really fast and not listen to our satiety scale. Sure, there are other things that we can also do to sabotage but these are the ones that are most common among the weight loss surgery community.
The bariatric pouch rules are in place for a reason. We can fight against them but why do we want to do that? Let’s just do the following things in order to help our tool, our pouch, work as it should.
- Eat solid proteins like eggs, chicken, beef, fish, seafood etc.
- Eat two bites of solid protein before eating a bite of anything else.
- Do not drink for 30 minutes after your last bite of food.
- Eat solid protein and vegetables.
- Chew each and every bite of food and then wait a few seconds between each bite.
In order to reach your weight loss goals and maintain long term, it is crucial to make lifestyle changes along with having your bariatric surgery. The honeymoon period will wear off after a year but that gives us sufficient time to get good habits in place.
Need help getting back on track ? I have the perfect toolkit for you. It provides you with a protein packed, convenient meal plan to make the transition back to bariatric eating.
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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