The next six months is a vital period in which you will relearn how to eat. As you retrain your mindset towards food and eating, you will start to feel the life changing health benefits of good nutrition and portion control.
Your ability to follow a strictly controlled diet will determine how successful your surgey over the next decade of your life. Immediately after surgery, your dietician will give you with a 'post-op' diet sheet with important information about which foods are safe to eat during recovery. However, once your recovery period is over, and you're physically capable of digesting three solid meals a day, including snacks, you will be firmly back in full control of your diet and the foods you choose to eat.
We are most in need of reliable dietary guidance and support from within the community at the end of the recovery period. It is normal at this stage, when we are feeling physcially robust, to experience strong, psychological impulses to increase our portion sizes and revert back to eating foods which do not serve our weight loss goals. This is usually the case because the mind is telling the body it is now safe to eat until our stomachs are content. But for WLS patients, who need to learn a whole new definition of hunger satisfaction after meals, following our mental impulses can lead us back to old temptations and poor eating habits.
What experiences can I expect after surgery?
You will notice your greatest weight loss occurring in the first four to nine months following surgery, which then starts to slow down. Towards the end of this period it is normal to experience occasional stalls in your weight loss, but don't worry! A plateau is often just your body’s way of telling you that you must exercise more and focus on portion and calorie control. After experiencing rapid weight loss early on, plateaus can also serve as a reminder that surgery is not a quick fix. So if your weight loss stalls, seek tips and advice from within the GG community on how to kick start it again, and follow the dietary and exercise guidance that works for you.
What kind of changes should I make to the way I eat?
As WLS patients, becoming mindful of our eating habits is the most powerful transformation we can achieve. Changing 'how' we eat is just as important as changing 'what' we eat. It is helpful to perceive our bariatric surgery as a tool that enables us to make steady adjustments to our habits and lifestyle. For instance, surgery restricts the capacity of the stomach to hold food and drink. This results in the patient having to eat more slowly and chew food more thoroughly in order to prevent discomfort. The effects of surgery gives the patient the opportunity to experience satisfaction after eating smaller amounts of food.
Will I always have to count calories, even after surgery?
In the two to six months after surgery most patients should be consuming between 900 to 1,000 calories. Count your calories to begin with, but don’t become fixated by them. The danger of not monitoring your calorie intake is that you could be making healthy food choices, but still consuming way too many calories to gain the full benefits of your operation. All too often we are unaware of the number of calories we consume in a day. Understanding portion control and managing the amount we eat is a crucial component to achieving success after surgery.
GG's guidance: know the common mistakes!
- By not reading the food packaging label you can unintentionally consume more calories than planned.
- Habitual eating (mindless snacking throughout the day) or eating directly from the packet often causes us to eat more than our bodies need.
Also, keep these tips in mind as you get started:
- Keeping a food journal will help you become more aware of what you’re eating and how much you really consume in a day.
- Eating protein first will limit the room you have left over for carbohydrates (which too much of can stall your WLS progress).
Please seek and follow the specific guidelines from your bariatric team. Guidelines vary for individual patient needs and surgeries.