What to Eat to Prepare for Bariatric Surgery
When you're preparing for bariatric surgery, your diet before the surgery is every bit as important as your diet after the surgery. What does that look like? What do you need to change in your diet as you prepare for the big surgery? With this guide, you can get a better idea of what you need to eat to prepare for bariatric surgery.
1. Start using protein powders and shakes.
Both before and after your surgery, protein powders and shakes will become an important staple of your diet. Increasing protein will help improve healing immediately after your surgery. Equally importantly, consuming the right amount of protein will prevent you from losing lean muscle mass both before and after your surgery. You want to lose fat and inches, but you don't want to give up lean muscle!
You want to choose a protein powder that is sugar free and made of a type of protein your body tolerates easily (if you're lactose intolerant, for example, you may want to look into pea or rice protein instead of whey). Pass on so-called protein powders that are really high-calorie, sugar-filled treats; instead, look for a powder that has a high protein count.
2. Avoid foods that are high in fat.
Now is the time to start moving high-fat foods out of your diet. This includes fatty meats, fried foods, whole milk products, and butter. This is a great time to expand your use of lean meats, low-fat cheeses, and other lower-fat alternatives, which can help prevent dumping syndrome following bariatric surgery. Some foods you may want to avoid:
- Fatty cuts of beef
- Fast food
- Fried foods, including chicken and fries
- Heavy cream
- Cream-based salad dressings
3. Stay away from foods and drinks high in sugar.
Foods and drinks that are high in sugar are also high in calories--and relatively low in nutritional value. Fruits can provide the sweet taste you're looking for in a more natural, healthier way that's better for your overall diet. Most people recognize candy, cakes, and cookies as high-sugar items that need to be removed from their diets both before and after bariatric surgery. Equally important, however, are the things that you drink! Beverages like soda, sweet teas, and many coffee drinks are even higher in sugar than baked goods and candies. When you drink your sugar, you're also less likely to realize how much you're consuming--and less likely to be satisfied by what you do consume.
4. Skip the high-carbohydrate foods.
White bread and white pasta are the biggest culprits when it comes to high-carbohydrate foods that offer little nutritional value. They're a great way to inexpensively fill out a dish and help fill people up, but they also make it hard to control both your blood sugar and your weight. High-carb foods o
ften convert straight to sugar when they hit your bloodstream. You may also want to avoid:
- White potatoes, including potato chips, fries, and mashed potatoes
- Sweetened yogurt (try sweetening your own low-fat yogurt with fruit instead)
Also, keep an eye on your gluten-free baked goods. While they do avoid white flour, many of them are very high in carbohydrates, which can restrict your weight loss goals.
5. Check your vices.
As your bariatric surgery approaches, it's time to take a close look at your vices--most notably, smoking and alcohol consumption. Many people keep smoking because they fear that if they stop, they will eat in an effort to restrict those cravings. Now, however, is the time to give it up once and for all. Alcohol is also not recommended either pre- or post-surgery. Alcohol is high in calories and carries no nutritional value. Post-surgery, when every bit of space in your stomach counts, excess alcohol consumption can leave you struggling to get the nutrient-dense foods your body needs to recover and keep it fueled. Post-surgery, you may also notice that alcohol absorption increases significantly. If you're used to drinking large quantities of alcohol on a regular basis before your surgery, you may find that this post-surgery change leads to serious intoxication very quickly.
6. Avoid using over the counter medications.
As you begin preparing for your surgery, make sure you aren't using over the counter medications that could interfere with your healing. You may need to avoid any medications that could potentially be corrosive to the gastric lining, which becomes more essential after surgery--nor do you want to cause any damage to it in the weeks leading up to surgery. Talk with your doctor about which medications you can use safely and which ones you should avoid. Typical recommendations include avoiding:
- Ibuprofen (including Advil and Motrin)
- Naproxen (Aleve)
- Acetaminophen (including Tylenol and Excedrin)
7. Strictly avoid binge eating.
Binge eating can contribute substantially obesity, which may have caused you to consider bariatric surgery in the first place. If you fall prone to binge eating, especially as a result of binge eating disorder, it's important to address that concern before you go in for gastric bypass surgery. To help avoid binge eating, try some of these strategies:
- Check the calorie counts of your foods and snacks. Sometimes, just seeing how much you're eating can make a big difference in what you are willing to consume.
- Take out a specific portion of your snacks and treats, then put the rest away. Measure your portions carefully, rather than simply assuming that you know how much is going into your snack.
- Eat regularly throughout the day. If you let yourself get too hungry, you will be more likely to overeat later.
Bariatric surgery can change your life, decreasing your weight and helping you to avoid many of the conditions associated with obesity. At the same time, you must change your life--and your eating habits--in order to experience the full advantages of that surgery. Are you ready to learn more or to start planning for your bariatric surgery? Contact us today to learn more about what we can offer.