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Life After Weight Loss Surgery: How Do I Re-Learn How to Eat?

Posted on 07/04/2014 at 11:58 PM by Todd Eibes, MD

Weight Loss SurgeryAfter your weight loss surgery you’ll need to make significant changes to your relationship with food.

After your procedure, it is important to remain careful of not only what you eat, but how you eat as well. Eating too much, eating too quickly and neglecting the nutrition your body needs can cause discomfort and make it very difficult to not only lose weight, but to sustain that weight loss long term.

Weight loss surgery will drastically reduce the amount of food you can eat. In the first few months after your surgery you may feel full after only a few bites of food.

Over the next year, while you should be able to eat more, your mind might be telling you to eat more than you will able to. And your system may not be able to tolerate many of the foods that you used to love.

It’s perfectly normal to be a bit nervous about eating after weight loss surgery. You will have to make changes that may not be pleasant or easy. Strengthening your will power and making positive changes to your eating habits takes time.

Having a good support system in place will be a vital part of your weight loss journey. It’s important to your healing process, your ongoing health and your continued weight loss success to strictly follow the guidelines that will be provided to you after surgery.

How often you eat, how much you eat in one sitting, and the types of foods you eat will have to change after weight loss surgery.

To avoid experiencing discomfort you’ll need to adjust your eating habits:

  • Eat more slowly. Allow 30 minutes for each meal and set up a distraction-free eating environment. Avoid eating on the couch in front of the television. Give your entire attention to what and how you’re eating and how your body reacts.
  • Chew more thoroughly. Chew each bite at least 20 to 30 times, especially when eating high-fiber foods. You will not be able to eat steaks or other chunks of meat if they are not ground or chewed thoroughly.
  • Limit serving sizes.
  • Don't eat desserts or other items with sugar listed as one of the first three ingredients.
  • Don't drink carbonated liquids, high-calorie nutritional supplements, milk shakes, or high-fat foods.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Limit snacking between meals.
  • Keep a food diary.
  • Adding new foods slowly. Your body may not be able to tolerate foods you once ate regularly. Pay close attention to how your body reacts when you try a food for the first time after surgery, even if it is something you’ve enjoyed before. Eat it slowly and carefully. If you feel any discomfort, stop eating. That food should probably be avoided.
  • Participate in postoperative nutritional classes.

Protein is a vital nutrient that helps our bodies heal and build muscle, and it becomes especially important after weight loss surgery. Meeting your daily protein goal and ensuring that enough calories are coming from protein sources will help you stay healthy and on track as you lose weight. You will generally need to eat at least 70 grams of protein each day.

Good sources of lean protein include:

  • Poultry
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Fish
  • Beans
  • Soy products

Though water remains crucial to your health after weight loss surgery, the way you drink it may need to change. You should drink between 40 and 64 ounces of water every day to avoid dehydration.

The vast majority of this should come from plain water—sugary, carbonated and caffeinated drinks should be avoided as they can cause gastric distress.

  • Take small sips. Drinking too fast or too much at once can lead to nausea and vomiting.
  • Stop drinking fluids thirty minutes before a meal and wait thirty minutes after eating to start drinking fluids again. Don't drink fluids while eating because they can make you feel full before you have consumed enough food.
  • Keep a water bottle with you. Taking small sips throughout the day will help you reach your hydration goals without putting too much stress on your system.

Your team at the Iowa Weight Loss Specialists will provide you with detailed instructions on what and how to eat after your surgery, and following these guidelines carefully will give you the greatest chances of a successful and comfortable weight loss journey.

If you have any questions about your diet and eating habits after weight loss surgery, do not hesitate to contact us. We will be happy to help you adjust to your new dietary requirements and work to solve any problems you may be experiencing.

If you’re interested in learning more about:

  • Dr. Todd Eibes
  • Iowa Weight Loss Specialists
  • Our West Des Moines location
  • Our weekly informational class
  • Weight loss surgery financing
  • Or would like to schedule a consultation

Please call 515-327-2000 or email us.

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