Are you in the process of qualifying, or have you already qualified for bariatric surgery? At either of these points, your surgeon may give you lifestyle guidelines to implement before surgery.
Before you have surgery, the surgeon's goals are to decrease abdominal fat and fat in or around the liver to prevent complications during surgery. A diet change before surgery prevents complications, but it can also give insight to what life will be like post-surgery.
It’s important to note that these lifestyle changes help promote a long, healthy life generally and are therefore applicable to everyone, though they are essential for surgery patients.
Changes your surgeon and registered dietitian may have you make before surgery include:
Decrease or eliminate saturated fat. Saturated fats are found in animal products like beef, butter, chicken, milk, and cheese. Saturated fat is also found in coconut/coconut oil. Often, you will not need to eliminate your favorite foods; you may simply have to make modifications while shopping. Instead of whole milk, choose skim milk or plant-based milk. When shopping for beef products, look for lean cuts (at least 90% lean). When shopping for chicken, purchase light meat instead and remove the skin (or buy skinless). With seafood, you can be much less restrictive. Salmon, tuna, mackerel, and other fish are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acid decreases triglycerides and promotes overall heart health.
Decrease or eliminate refined carbohydrates. White bread, white rice, refined sugar, and sweets containing white flour and sugar are all refined carbohydrates. Refined carbohydrates are classified as simple sugars. Simple sugars digest faster than starches, like potatoes, or complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains. This means you will feel hungry again faster. Simple sugars are also more likely to break down and become stored in the body as fat, as you do not need all the sugar to make energy.
Eliminate high-sugar beverages, caffeine, and alcohol. High-sugar beverages are also classified as simple sugars. Caffeine and alcohol should be decreased before surgery to prepare you for post-surgery life; alcohol intake after surgery may cause dumping syndrome. Alcohol should not only be avoided for this reason, but also because your alcohol tolerance will drastically decrease after surgery.
Practice mindful eating. Be aware of your eating experience. Before eating, identify how hungry you are. When you are eating, eat slowly and take time to chew each bite. This improves the eating experience and helps prevent eating past the point of fullness. Once you have eaten, wait 15-30 minutes before getting more food because it takes time for the stomach to signal to the brain that it is satisfied.
Find movement you enjoy. If performing moderate physical activity, exercise for 30-60 minutes, 5 times per week. If you have access to a gym, lift weights 2-3 times per week. Exercise is necessary to support overall health. Importantly, it also promotes fat loss and helps one maintain lean body mass.
Consume protein shakes or protein powder. Post-surgery, consuming enough protein is very important. Because of this, patients are often told before surgery to consume anywhere between 60-100 grams of protein per day. Your registered dietitian can help you determine your specific protein needs. To meet these needs, you may want to use protein powders. When looking for a protein powder, choose a supplement with 20-30 grams of protein, less than 5 grams of sugar, and less than or equal to 200 calories. Protein powders that meet these guidelines include Celebrate Vitamins High Protein Meal Replacement Protein Powder, which includes 24-27 grams of protein, ReBuild Protein plus Probiotic, which includes 20 grams of protein, and Celebrate Natural Vegan Protein, which includes 20 grams of pea protein.
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