These guidelines are provided to help you prepare for surgery. It’s important to start developing new eating and exercise habits before surgery to help with the transition after surgery. Following these guidelines will give you the best chance for long-term results. You can read through the guidelines below.
Congratulations on your decision to have bariatric surgery! Our team is looking forward to helping you reach your health goals. Before your first visit, please watch the following video.
Balancing calories in and calories out
“Calories in” refers to the food and drink you consume and your body absorbs. “Calories out” refers to the calories that are used up. Calories come from all basic food types including fats, carbohydrates, protein and alcohol.
Your body burns calories every minute of every day, so the more active you are, the more calories you burn. If you consume more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. Most adults burn at least 1,500 calories per day, without even trying. So, if you only eat 1,500 calories, you will lose weight.
Of all foods, fats contain the most calories with nine calories per 1 gram of fat. Our bodies are designed to desire high-calorie foods. Since fats are so packed with calories, you can drastically reduce your calorie intake by reducing the fats you eat.
Carbohydrates include sugars (simple carbohydrates) and starches (complex carbohydrates). Carbohydrates have four calories per 1 gram of carbohydrate, which is half of what fats have. However, they can add up quick. Also, you may not feel as full for as long on meals that are mostly carbohydrate compared to meals that have protein and fat in them.
Protein, like carbohydrates, has four calories per 1 gram of protein. However, protein is more than just calories. Proteins are the building blocks for your muscles and organs that keep your body healthy. An adult needs at least 60-70 grams of protein each day. Protein comes from meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy products. Vegetable sources of protein come from beans (soy, pinto, red beans and lentils), tofu, nuts (which are fatty) and whole grains (oatmeal, whole wheat and brown rice). Meals with protein in them tend to help people feel full longer than carbohydrate-only meals or snacks.
Water is essential. When you are trying to lose weight, your body needs large amounts of water to break down waste products. You should try to drink 64 ounces (8 cups) of water or other low-calorie fluid (unsweet tea, non-fat milk, Crystal Light, etc.) per day.
Vitamins and minerals
Different foods have different amounts of vitamins and minerals, which is why it’s important to eat a variety of foods. When you’re losing weight, it’s important to make sure you are getting enough vitamins. After bariatric surgery, people may not absorb all the vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, iron, vitamin B12, as well as they did before having surgery. To help with this, taking a multivitamin with iron is part of our pre-op program, or you can start taking the recommended post-op vitamins for your planned procedure before surgery. This gets you in the habit and lets you get an idea for which ones you like.
Begin walking 30 minutes at a time, three times per week. If you are unable to walk due to breathing troubles, joint pain or other limitations, talk with our staff and we’ll discuss other alternatives with you. The goal is to work up to walking five times per week, then adding in more strenuous activity, such as cycling, jogging, swimming and light weight training.
Lifestyle changes and eating guidelines
Many people are in the mindset that they “live to eat,” but we want to change that to “eat to live.” While eating is enjoyable and necessary, eating more than your body needs is harmful. This kind of lifestyle change is difficult with or without surgery, but following these guidelines can help.
- Monitor your calories in. Your goal is 1,500 calories per day. Read all labels and measure the food you eat.
- Eat a low-fat diet. This means fewer than 30% of your calories should come from fat.
- Keep a food journal. Write down everything you eat for one week, then calculate the calories. Each time you plan to visit with the physician or nutritionist, keep a food journal the week leading up to the visit.
- Eat three meals per day and don’t skip meals. Skipping meals can make you overeat at your next meal and does not help you lose weight. Some bariatric surgery patients need to eat more than three meals per day, and this is OK as long as they are small meals of nutritious foods and you are not snacking continuously.
- Do not eat between meals unless it’s fresh fruit, vegetables or a small portion of a non-fat snack.
- Avoid fast food restaurants. If you do go to one, don’t order the combo meals. Your body doesn’t need fries and a sugary drink.
- Don’t eat while you drive, work or watch television.
- Don’t eat or snack after 9 p.m. Instead, wake up hungry and have a healthy breakfast.
Attend all office visits
Our physicians, medical staff and office staff want to help you be successful on your journey to good health. We need you to be an active participant in that process. One way you can do this is to attend all scheduled office visits. This helps us chart your progress and make adjustments as needed to help you reach your goals in the most efficient and effective ways. It also allows us to document your efforts for insurance purposes.