Dietary Considerations after Bariatric Surgery
A common theme that runs through recovery after each and every bariatric procedure is protein. After you have undergone a gastric sleeve, the food and drink you consume will help determine the speed of your recovery and also the long-term ability for you to lose weight.
Protein is a very important mineral that performs many vital functions including:
- Speeding healing and recovery.
- Making you feel fuller for longer.
- Leveling out the blood sugar spikes that contribute of type-II diabetes.
- Helping minimize or avoid hair loss after surgery.
Protein comes in many forms including meat, fish, tofu and beans. It can also be consumed in the form of a protein bar or milkshake. No matter how you get your protein, two basic rules are that 1) protein should be a complete (containing all 9 amino acids) and secondly that the average patient should consume between 60 and 75 grams of protein per day depending on your particular diet.
It may be hard to reach that level of protein, especially in the first few months after surgery. For that reason, we recommend protein shakes as part of the early postoperative diet protocol. However, it as time goes on, you will learn new ways to consume enough protein to stay healthy and at the same time lose weight.
Raw Diet Considerations
With the rise in obesity and the consequent proliferation of alternative diets, the raw diet has been touted as a very healthy way to eat and lose weight. While there is research that shows the cooking process eliminating many important nutrients in certain foods, eating a raw diet is not always ideal for a post bariatric surgery patient. Before considering such a diet, consider the following three common issues:
Is the diet sustainable? Sustainability is the key point of any diet. More extreme diets, such as an all raw food diet, can often lead to quitting especially if you quit cooked foods all at once. After quitting a diet, you may regain most of the weight you lost – sometimes put on even more than before. If a raw diet is truly something that you wish to undertake, make sure that the diet is well-balanced and that you do not consume too few calories.
Another consideration is the possibility of food poisoning. Raw dairy products, meats and even some raw vegetables can lead to an increased risk of foodborne illnesses which, for those with a compromised immune system, can be very serious if not deadly. Elderly patients as well as those considering pregnancy should be particularly wary of this. Make sure that you speak to your physician before you begin a raw food diet to ensure that your body can handle the increased risk of contracting a foodborne pathogen
Your dietary options, especially animal proteins, may be limited significantly. Lean meats like pork and chicken cannot be consumed raw. Further, many of us do not have access to sources of animal protein reliable enough to eat raw.
Raw diets are a very interesting concept that, in moderation, could offer a benefit to your health. Rather than a full raw diet, you may wish to consider a modification where raw components make up just a part of your overall dietary plan. We hope that you find the diet that is best for you, however we also stress the importance of following your post-bariatric surgery guidelines as they are critical to a successful and healthy lifestyle transition. After surgery, please contact your primary care physician or our office if you have any questions or concerns about a raw diet and its suitability within your lifestyle.
Food Journaling for Effective Weight Loss
Food and exercise journals are one of the most important components of a successful post-bariatric-surgery transformation. Simply put, we have found that patients who keep a journal are more likely to hit their weight loss targets than those who don’t. Understanding what foods we consume on a daily basis and how we burn them off can be very telling, especially during times where we are unsure about the causes of our weight fluctuations. It goes without saying that the post-bariatric-surgery diet and exercise program will be healthier than our lifestyle before surgery. However, to reach our goals, it is important that we understand our new lifestyle.
A food journal does not have to be very complicated – it can be as simple as using a sheet of blank or graph paper. Split it into the days of the week and note down what and how much you ate at each meal. It is also helpful to jot down the mood you were in before you ate and how you felt afterwards. Adding the exercise you perform throughout the day is also important.
The idea here is to find a pattern in your lifestyle choices and how each of those choices affects your day-to day. For example, if you know that eating too much bread during the day makes you tired and unproductive at work, and you’ve written this cause-and-effect in your journal repeatedly, you know that it’s time to scale back. Similarly, if you think a nibble or a few extra snacks here and there don’t matter, you’ll soon see on paper that they certainly can add up. The amount of useful information you can collect through journaling is virtually limitless.
The post bariatric diet is an ongoing work in progress. There will be times where you may lose or gain weight without exactly knowing the cause. These are times when speaking to your bariatric surgeon is essential to understanding why your weight fluctuations are occurring. Having a food journal can offer your surgeon some perspective on your lifestyle and how it can be modified to stabilize your weight.
For those who enjoy technology, there are many web and smartphone applications that can accurately track your caloric intake and exercise. They may also keep an archive of your caloric consumption and expenditure. Utilizing one of these applications can make tracking your progress and weight loss easy and even enjoyable.
No matter how you wish to track your diet and exercise habits, just be sure to do it honestly and regularly. The result will be enlightening and may contribute to your weight loss success.