Your bariatric surgery is on the horizon, and you’re counting down the days. You know that with a significantly smaller post-surgery stomach, your diet will have to change permanently. Now’s the time to live it up, right?
Nope – actually, your mentality should be the opposite. Your pre-surgery diet plays a huge role in preventing complications from surgery and for setting yourself up for successful, long-term weight loss.
Here are 3 reasons why establishing good eating habits before surgery will give you the best results:
1) It reduces the likelihood of surgical complications
The more you weigh prior to surgery, the more likely you are to develop complications from surgery. Lowering your BMI will reduce your risk.
2) It equips your body to heal faster
When you feed your body with healthy food, it gives your body the energy and nutrition it needs to heal after your operation. Feeding your body the right food will help it function properly and recover quickly.
3) It gives you momentum to make necessary lifestyle changes
Gradually getting into a routine prior to surgery will put less of a shock on your body when your stomach is suddenly 85% smaller. And you’ll have the momentum to keep up these lifestyle changes long term, which is the ultimate factor in how much weight you lose.
6 Pre-Bariatric Surgery Diet Tips
Let’s face it, change is hard. Changing your eating habits is not going to be easy. Here are some tips for setting yourself up for success:
1. Set goals: Aim to lose a percentage of your weight
Every pound that you lose will make surgery safer, because it reduces your risk of complications. In fact, losing around 10% of your body weight prior to surgery significantly reduces your risk of developing complications.
2. Commit to a diet
Talk to your surgeon to develop a diet and strategy, and stick with it. In many cases, insurance companies actually require patients to be on a diet prior to surgery. Demonstrate to yourself and those around you that you have what it takes to commit to a lifestyle change.
3. Reduce calories
After surgery, your stomach will be 80-90% smaller, so you won’t be able to eat as much as before. Getting into the habit of eating less prior to surgery will get your body used to taking in fewer calories. Cut back on high-calorie foods and replace them with low-calorie foods. It may help to keep track of what you eat with a food journal.
4) Eat a high protein, low carb diet
Eating protein helps your body use more fat as an energy source instead of lean muscle, reduces bleeding and promotes healing. It also shrinks your liver, which reduces risk of accidental damage to it during surgery. Lean meats, beans and lentils are great sources of protein. Cut down refined carbs and sugary foods as much as you can.
5) Have the right attitude
This transition is going to be challenging both physically and mentally, so it is key to have the right attitude. It may help to think of the months leading up to surgery as a test. You are training yourself to have discipline and change your relationship to food. Or, you may always keep your motivation for losing weight in mind as you make food decisions: Why is losing weight important so important to you? What are your personal goals? Let your motivations fuel and empower you. Remember to stay positive and understand that change doesn’t happen overnight.
6) Have a support system
This means choosing a bariatric surgeon who can give you guidance, and who also has a nutritionist or dietitian on staff who you can reach out to for help. These professionals can talk with you about your diet history and understand what kind of eater you are, which will help you set goals and create the best strategies for you to reach them. Having a supportive network of family and friends can also go a long way in helping you succeed.
Taking care of yourself before surgery will help you reduce the risk of surgical complications, get used to your post-surgery diet, and lose more weight long term. If you aim to get your body as healthy as possible before surgery, you can set yourself up for success.