Tips from the Experts on Preparing for Your New Life
Once you have committed to having bariatric surgery, now is the perfect time to begin your preparation for your new life.
“Before you have a child,” Jessica Crandall says, “if you organize a nursery, the transition will be so much smoother when your child is born. Likewise, if you start prepping your brain and body for your upcoming lifelong transition of bariatric surgery, all will progress more smoothly for you.”
Jessica is a registered dietician nutritionist and the national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Going on the pre-op diet as prescribed by your medical team,” she says, “helps you with a bit of weight loss, reduces your liver size and demonstrates compliance and your commitment to your new lifestyle after surgery.”
Registered dietician Lori Rosenthal, who specializes in weight loss and bariatric issues, adds that, amazing as bariatric surgeries can be in helping people lose weight, they aren’t magic. “You also need to find foods and routines that you like, so you stick with them.”
It can be tempting, for some people, to try to “fix” everything all at once. Lori suggests that, instead, you focus on three things at a time that you can do to prepare for surgery. Some of these will include:
- Eat three small meals a day.
- Include protein in each meal.
- Pre-plan your meals by creating a grocery list for the food you’ll eat, and stick to that list.
- Don’t just say, “I’ll eat healthy.” Be more specific.
- Incorporate mindfulness in eating. That could include 20 to 25 chews per bite, as you pace yourself and enjoy your food more.
- Drink more water.
- Add gentle exercise into your routine.
Role of liquid protein supplements
Surgeons often require that some weight loss occurs, pre-surgery. It could be a set amount of pounds, say, ten or twenty – or it could be a percentage of body weight. Reasons cited include that losing even ten to fifteen pounds before bariatric surgery can decrease the risk of complications.
To lose this weight, calorie intake is reduced, and some surgeons put their patients on liquid protein supplements to ensure adequate nutrition. Some even put patients on a full liquid protein diet for two weeks before surgery to prepare them for the upcoming transition and to potentially shorten operating time. It’s crucial that you understand the nutritional requirements and dietary changes that you must incorporate both before and after your weight loss surgery.
When does pre-bariatric prep begin?
Pre-bariatric diets typically start two to three months before the surgery is planned. Depending upon your overall health, plus your weight and body composition, your surgeon will probably put you on a diet with 800 to 1,200 calories per day, including 70 to 120 grams of daily protein, with lowered intake of carbohydrates and fat, most specifically saturated fats and refined sugars. Goals of this diet include:
- Reducing body fat, most specifically abdominal body fat; because this is where the surgery will be performed, reduced fat in this area is beneficial to your safety
- Protecting lean body mass; when you ensure sufficient protein intake, your body does not need to use lean muscle tissue to burn as energy
- Preparing your body for post-surgery recovery, providing you with beneficial nutrients, vitamins and minerals
- Preparing you for the post-surgery diet; because this is how you will be eating for the rest of your life, it’s beneficial to follow the post-surgery plan in preparation
Where to Get Pre-WLS Nutrition Items
Bariatric Choice provides the protein diet supplements that your surgeon will be recommending throughout this process, along with the bariatric vitamins and minerals needed to receive enough nutrients. Many of our products come in portion-controlled packages to ensure the correct portion size, including the optimal amount of high-quality protein.
Make sure to consult with your surgeon and/or dietician before beginning a pre-surgery diet. A March 2014 study reports that a survey of 28 different bariatric centers used a combined total of 49 different diet plans, so it’s important that you are clear on which one your surgeon recommends for you.