Dietary Information for Weight Loss Surgery
In simple terms, weight loss surgery works by suppressing hunger and resetting hunger and metabolic hormones. This allows the body to comfortably lose weight while the person implements changes to diet and lifestyle.
In the long term, weight can be regained if the amount of calories eaten is constantly greater than the body's metabolic need. Therefore, the long term success of any weight loss surgery depends on permanent diet and lifestyle changes.
Pre surgery diet
Your surgeon, nurse and dietitian will discuss with you the pre-operative very low calorie diet (VLCD). An enlarged, fatty liver is a common finding in people with a high Body Mass Index (BMI) and the liver sits very close to the stomach. The purpose of the strict VLCD is to reduce the liver size for greater ease and therefore safety of surgery. Your dietitian will help tailor the diet to your needs. It is usually started two weeks prior to surgery and often consists of Optifast meal replacement and low-starch vegetables.
Post surgery diet
Following your surgery it takes somewhere between 4 and 6 weeks to get from liquids, to purees, to soft and then finally to solid foods. It is very important that you follow the recommended diet and portion sizes, as this allows your body to heal. The quantity and types of food are really limited, especially in the early weeks following surgery. Prioritize lean proteins and vegetables and over time it will become easier to incorporate a wider variety of foods into your diet. Eating slowly, mindfully and adjusting to your new stomach is a learning experience. You will be provided with extensive resources, meal ideas and regular support from your specialised dietitian to guide you through this transition.
After six weeks what then?
At this stage, most people are likely to be on mainly solid food. Compared to pre-surgery meals, your portions will be really tiny, so make every mouthful count. Try to eat a wide variety of nutrient rich, delicious food. Keep your choices healthy.
Make sure you don’t eat for too long. Sometimes, because meals look so small, people try and eat a bigger meal over a longer period. We encourage you to spend only around 15 minutes eating your meal.
Throughout this early part of the post operative journey it is really important to stay engaged with your nursing and dietetic team to make it as easy as possible and to get the most weight loss out of your surgery.