Surgery will help you lose weight, of course. You’ll lose plenty of excess weight during the first year after your operation. But you’ll have to change your eating and exercise patterns to ensure that weight stays off. And you’ll need to alter your eating anyway to prevent pain and vomiting, protect your surgical procedure (e.g., staple line), and prevent food from blocking the opening from the stomach to the gastrointestinal tract.
Here are the guidelines for your new way of eating.
Eat slowly and chew foods until they are mushy.
- Allow 30 – 60 minutes for each meal
- Aim for 30 chews for each bite, chewing thoroughly to mush
- Explain to people why you must eat slowly
- Take small bites. Try a baby spoon. Cut food in the size of a “pea” to make it easier to chew
- Savor each bite, noting its taste, flavor, and texture
- Sit down and be focused on eating, not other activities where you can become distracted
Stop eating as soon as you feel full.
If you eat too much you’ll get sick. Because the amount of space in your stomach is so small, do not eat and drink at the same time.
At first, you’ll only be able to eat 1/4 cup of solid food (2 to 3 tablespoons of each item on your plate). Over time, the amount of food your stomach can hold will increase from 1/2 to 1 cup per meal. Your new, tiny stomach will not hold more than 1 cup of food at a time.
How to tell when you’ve had enough?
- Pressure or fullness in the center below your rib cage
- Pain in your shoulder or upper chest
When you get the feeling of fullness, stop eating, even if you have not finished your meal.
Set aside three meals a day when you only eat solid foods.
This will help you eat nutritious meals rather than endless snacking. Snacking could prevent you from losing weight. It could even cause you to gain weight.
Sip slowly in between meals all day.
- We all need liquids to stay hydrated. We suggest you drink water, skim, low fat or soy milk (up to 24 ounces per day), low calorie beverages, or tea.
- Don’t drink anything for 30 minutes before or after each meal. Your stomach isn’t big enough for both food and liquids!
- Sip beverages slowly. Carry a bottle of water at all times.
- Avoid high calorie drinks like milkshakes, soda, fruit juices/fruit drinks, beer, alcohol, meal substitutes. They can sabotage your weight loss efforts by adding calories without making you feel full.
- Avoid carbonated beverages. They can cause bloating.
Eat a balanced diet
You’re not going to be eating much, so what you eat needs to be high quality and packed with nutrients—the biggest nutritional bang for the calories. You’ll also need to take a multivitamin every day to make up for the nutrients no longer being absorbed in the bypassed areas of your stomach and intestines. Your long-term diet will be low in fat and sugar and high in protein.
What happens if I don’t follow the diet?
Weight loss surgery is successful 80% of the time. The number one reason it fails the other 20% of the time: not following the post-surgery diet. You must be disciplined and committed to sticking to the program. That includes changing eating behaviors and exercise habits.
If this feels overwhelming to you, turn to a support group for strength.