General Dietary Information for Weight Loss Surgery
Having weight loss surgery will help you lose weight but you do need to commit to changing the way you eat. Surgery is just the first step in your weight loss journey.
Pre surgery diet
Prior to having the operation we recommend that you follow our pre-operative very low calorie diet (also commonly known as the liver reducing diet) to minimise risk and to prepare you for the lifestyle change required after the surgery. We have a food-based, calorie and portion controlled diet option or a meal replacement (Optifast) option. Our dietitian will be happy to support you through this period of preparation.
It is very important that you follow the diet that is recommended, as this allows your body to heal and to gradually get used to having food again. It also takes some time to get used to the new portion sizes that you can eat. Gradually moving from one consistency of food to another helps your brain catch up to the fact that your stomach is smaller.
What does the post-surgery diet consist of?
You will be given more detailed information when you see the team. In summary, you start on liquids for one week, progressing to sloppy/pureed and soft foods over the next 4-5 weeks, and then eventually back to normal textures by about 6 weeks after surgery.
What is meant by the different consistencies?
- Fluids - any liquid that has not got lumps in it e.g. milk, drinking yoghurt, soups with no bits, supplement fluids such as Optifast or Complan
- Sloppy/pureed foods – food should be the consistency of smooth, mashed potatoe.g. Weetbix with lots of milk added, soup put through a blender so it is smooth, meat pureed with sauces and gravy’s, pureed/mashed fruit (discard skins, pips and seeds),
- Soft food–foods that are mashable with a fork e.g. well cooked vegetables, flaked fish with sauce, slightly mashed pulses and beans, poached eggs.
Although this may seem daunting, in reality it is a lot easier than it sounds, as you probably won’t feel hungry following your surgery.
How often should I eat?
In the first 6 weeks try to eat little and often – three small meals and three snacks, spreading your food throughout the day.Rather strangely, it is easy to forget to eat at all, so trying to have a routine that prompts you to have something regularly is a good idea. If you go too long without eating it can make you feel lightheaded.
What are the tips regarding eating?
The most important thing is to eat slowly and take your time chewing your food well. We are generally not very good at doing this as we rush our meals and often don’t concentrate on eating. If you do this after weight loss surgery, you find it hard to pinpoint the moment when you have eaten enough and that can lead to feelings of sickness and discomfort.
Will my diet be balanced?
Your diet after surgery is very limited regarding the quantity of food that you can eat as well as the types of food. This can make it difficult to achieve a totally balanced diet in the first few weeks. However over time you will find it easier to eat a variety of foods. It is important that you are conscious of the types of food that you choose to eat. We suggest that you concentrate on eating sufficient protein. Our dietitian will be happy to help you with suggestions on how to do this.
In addition to choosing nutrient dense foods, it is often also recommended to take dietary supplementation after surgery to achieve a balanced intake. Supplements can range from a basic multivitamin for the non-malabsorptive procedures, like the Gastric Band, and includes iron, folic acid, calcium and vitamin D for the procedures that involve some malabsorption such as the bypass and sleeve gastrectomy. Supplementation is required life long after surgery.
After six weeks what then?
After weight loss surgery, although your portions are smaller, the aim is to eat tasty and nutritious foods. We often take in wasted calories from food that we don’t particularly enjoy or eat out of habit. With your new lifestyle, every mouthful of food should be enjoyable and full of nutrients. The aim is to not think of foods in terms of calories and fat but rather looking at protein, iron, calcium and other nutrients. This really is a time of experimenting and perhaps trying foods that you may not have had before.
Tips for long-term lifestyle change
- Be mindful- Keep a food dairy, sometimes this helps you to get into a habit of being aware of what you eat- especially if you lead a busy social and working life.
- Always be positive about the good changes you make to the way you live, even if they are only small.
- Try to manage stress in ways that do not harm your lifestyle, such as seeking comfort in food. Exercise is a great stress reliever, but you may also look into other forms of stress relief such as reading, self pampering, discussion with family or friends or taking up a hobby like artistic painting.
- Don’t focus on the scales- what else is improving as a result of the changes you are making? Keep a list and remember to keep your goals realistic and achievable