A THREE-PRONGED APPROACH TO MAKING YOUR WEIGHT LOSS SURGERY A SUCCESS:
(1) HEALTHY EATING, (2) REGULAR EXERCISE, AND (3) LONG-TERM SUPPORT
Facing life after weight loss surgery can be daunting. If you’ve done your homework, you already know that regardless of the type of surgery you opt for, successful weight loss after surgery still requires significant changes to your daily life that may seem impossible right now. After all, you’ve already tried, unsuccessfully, to lose weight through diet and exercise, so why should dieting and exercising be any easier or any more successful after weight loss surgery?
Weight loss surgery is not the “easy way out”, it’s true. Metabolic and bariatric surgery does require you to commit to extensive changes in your eating habits and exercise routines that may be difficult for some individuals to maintain. But obesity surgery also sparks real changes in your metabolism and anatomy that make healthy eating choices easier, and once the weight begins to come off, exercise becomes easier as well! When coupled with help from a qualified team of weight loss experts, you may find that new, healthy habits take hold even before you realize it!
Board Certified surgeon Dr. Wiljon Beltre at The Center for Metabolic and Obesity Surgery in Altamonte Springs, Florida, offers a proven three-pronged approach for long-term weight loss success after surgery:
- Healthy eating habits: Traditional dieting often means going hungry and constantly fighting cravings. However, the anatomical changes to your body after surgery make you feel full quickly and in some cases control your hunger too. Yes, you will need to avoid unhealthy food choices, but because the body no longer tolerates these foods well, most patients find they simply don’t want them. So restrictions that seem difficult now are much easier than you might believe.
- Exercise: Yes, committing to exercise seems impossible now, because obesity and related illnesses sap your strength and your energy. But once weight loss has begun and health problems begin to resolve, exercise becomes easier than ever before, and as you realize how wonderful it makes you feel, sticking to a good exercise routine becomes easier and easier.
- Long-Term Support: Scientific studies now conclusive demonstrate that long-term, successful weight loss is nearly impossible for most individuals without support, advice, and medical intervention, even after weight loss surgery. In fact, your chances of achieving your weight loss goals after surgery increase dramatically if you participate in regularly-scheduled follow-up visits with your surgeon and participate in regular support group meetings.
HEALTHY EATING HABITS: WHAT YOU SHOULD EAT
Allowing the body to heal from surgery and enacting long-term dietary changes requires a phased approach starting the first day after surgery and continuing for several months. These guidelines are intended to be a broad overview for informational purposes only; our certified nutritionist will work directly with you to provide more detailed instructions tailored to your unique circumstances. Moreover, the exact timeline of the progression of the phases will vary for each individual patient depending on their specific procedure, unique anatomy, and medical requirements; your scheduled follow-up visits with Dr. Beltre will help determine when you are ready to move on to the next phase.
Phase 1: Clear Liquid Diet (1 week): Starting the first day after your surgery, you will begin sipping clear liquids such as clear broth and sugar free juices or drink mixes, avoiding caffeinated or carbonated beverages. The goal is to consume 4-8 ounces per hour without vomiting, for a total of at least 64 ounces per day. Once you return home, you will add two chewable multivitamin with iron, calcium, and B-12. You can expect to begin your vitamin regime with 2 supplements per day, but this number will increase as your diet expands, especially for patients who have undergone malabsorptive procedures.
Stage 2: Full Liquid Diet (1 week): Once you can tolerate clear liquids easily, you may begin adding high-protein liquids such as protein powders mixed with non-fat milk or almond milk. All foods should be sugar free and fat free. Examples include creamed soups, yogurt, pudding, applesauce, and V8.
Stage 3: Transition from pureed to soft foods (1 week): About three weeks after your surgery, you may be ready to begin introducing pureed and eventually soft foods back into your diet. You will need to introduce new foods slowly, one at a time, in order to give your body sufficient time to adjust and to develop a sense of what foods your body can tolerate. Again, stick to sugar free and fat free foods; sweeten with Splenda when necessary. Examples of acceptable soft foods include: canned fruits, baked or mashed potatoes (no butter), eggs, hummus, soft cooked vegetables (avoid celery and asparagus), low fat cheeses like cottage or ricotta, oatmeal, smoothies (be careful of sugar!), and lean meats.
Stage 4: Soft to Regular Diet (beginning around Week 4): Starting about a month after surgery, you will most likely be ready to begin moving towards your new, healthy diet. You can begin slowly introducing new foods one at a time to identify problematic foods and to build up tolerance, always avoiding sugars, fats, fibrous vegetables, tough meats such as steak and pork chops, and fruits with membranes (oranges, pineapple, grapes, etc), and beans if they cause too much gas and abdominal discomfort.
Vitamin Supplements: All metabolic and bariatric surgery patients must be willing commit to life-long monitoring for vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and will most likely be required to take regular vitamin supplements. This is especially critical for patients who have undergone malabsorptive procedures such as gastric bypass and BPD/DS, because the body’s ability to absorb certain vitamins and minerals has been compromised. Calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin B complexes, and Iron are especially critical and must be taken in high doses, usually requiring multiple pills per day. Chewable supplements will likely start immediately after surgery; after six weeks, you may switch to pill supplements if you would like.
HEALTHY EATING HABITS: HOW YOU SHOULD EAT
After weight loss surgery, how you eat becomes just as important as what you eat! Taking into account your specific anatomical alterations, it is critical to remember that your new stomach pouch is very small and easily filled. Overeating can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, discomfort, weight gain for patients with gastric band, and dumping syndrome for gastric bypass and BPD patients. So it is critical that you eat and drink correctly and stop eating at the first sign of fullness!
- Drink plenty of sugar free beverages, but only between meals. Due to the smaller pouch size, it is important not to drink during meals: avoid all beverages for 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after eating. However, dehydration can be a real danger, so it is critical to sip sugar-free, caffeine free, and non-carbonated beverages slowly throughout the day (except when eating). Your goal should be to consume 48-64 ounces of fluid per day.
- Always eat protein first. Because portion size is very small and you will feel full quickly, it is important to begin your meal with protein. You must also limit fats and avoid refined sugars and starchy foods such as while rice, pasta, and bread. These foods may be difficult for your system to tolerate; moreover, they are nutritionally less appropriate than low-fat proteins, so filling up on them first will limit the amount of high-quality, more nutritious foods you can eat.
- Eat slowly. Eating slowly will enable you to recognize the signs of fullness before you overeat; it will also help ensure that you chew your food thoroughly before swallowing. All meals should take about 30 minutes to complete. This is especially important for gastric bypass and BPD patients, as eating or drinking too quickly can lead to “dumping syndrome”, in which too much food enters the intestines too quickly, leading to nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and diarrhea.
- Cut food into very small chunks and chew thoroughly. Large chunks of food can block the small passages created by your surgery, leading to abdominal pain, vomiting, and nausea. It is critical that food be cut into very small bite-sized pieces, and then chewed to the consisteny of a puree before swallowing.
- Eat three small meals per day, and unless you have the gastric band, you may also include two snacks. Individuals with gastric band must avoid snacking, and strictly limit eating to three- or-four small meals per day to ensure weight loss.
- EXERCISE: WALK, WALK, WALK!!!
Exercise is one of the three cornerstones of success for any weight loss surgery, and you must begin your commitment to an exercise routine even before you have your surgery. Regular, sustained exercise—usually defined as aerobic/cardio activity that elevates the heart rate to a target heart rate for 30+ minutes—will increase your metabolism, burn more calories, and encourage your body to lose fat. Moreover, it will make you feel better! Start slowly by walking short distances, even just around the house, and take breaks when you need them. Once you have healed from your procedure and your weight loss has begun, you will find the exercise becomes easier: as you get smaller and healthier, you get faster and more in shape and the exercise gets easier. Once it has begun, you will find the process feeds on itself: just as the old saying goes, “success breeds success”! Be sure to start every workout with resistance training using resistance bands or hand weight to jump start your metabolism. We recommend that you exercise at least 30 minutes 5 days per week, at minimum.
PARTICIPATION IN LONG-TERM SUPPORT NETWORK:
Scientific studies now conclusively show that patients who participate in long-term medical follow-up and regular support group meetings achieve more successful weight loss and are more successful at maintaining their ideal weight. The lifestyle changes required by weight loss surgery can be extensive, and developing good eating and exercise habits can be difficult. We have found that patients who participate in support groups and other support networks have an easier time making and following through on developing positive lifestyle habits and achieve better long-term success. For more information on the support groups offered through The Center for Metabolic and Obesity Surgery, click here.
CONTACT THE CENTER FOR METABOLIC AND OBESITY SURGERY
At The Center for Metabolic and Obesity Surgery, located in Altamonte Springs, Florida, we offer a proven, multifaceted approach to metabolic and bariatric surgery that will empower you to achieve your weight loss goals, improve your health and appearance, and rebuild your self-confidence. Led by esteemed, Board Certified surgeon Dr. Wiljon Beltre, one of the only fellowship-trained bariatric surgeons in Central Florida, we specialize in the latest cutting-edge procedures for safe, effective surgical weight loss coupled with a dedicated support team of caring, experienced specialists who will stand by your side to support you throughout your entire weight loss journey. Significant weight loss is not easy, but with the help of with our confidential consultation and education process, the surgical skill and experience of our medical team, and the advice and guidance of our ongoing support network, we can help you achieve the lasting weight loss success you have been dreaming about.
If you are tired of the endless rounds of fad dieting and fruitless exercise regimens and think you may be ready for significant weight loss with weight loss surgery, or if you would like more information on all of the metabolic and bariatric surgery options and the type of long-term lifestyle changes they require, contact The Center for Metabolic and Obesity Surgery today for a free, individual consultation. We look forward to helping you start your weight loss journey today! Call 407-830-6868 or Click Here to Schedule a Consultation.