Eating after weight loss surgery is one of the most popular topics that patients discuss at consultations, but many people don’t realise that your diet doesn’t have to drastically change after a weight loss procedure. As long as you stick to some guidelines, you can generally eat everything that you used to eat before – just less of it!
All of the weight loss procedures including the gastric band, gastric sleeve, gastric bypass and ESG (non-surgical sleeve) work mainly by limiting the amount of food that you can eat. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that the food that you eat is rich in the nutrients that your body needs.
Let’s take the gastric sleeve for example. With a sleeve, around 80% of your stomach is removed. The food you eat will still enter and exit the stomach in the same place as it did before but you won’t be able to each as much. It’s this reduced capacity of the stomach that encourages weight loss and changes in gut hormones that helps to suppress the appetite.
After your procedure, it’s imperative that you stick to the phased approach before getting back to normal eating to allow the stomach tissues to heal properly. The general rule is that immediately after surgery, you should have 2 weeks of liquids followed by 2 weeks of soft/pureed food before returning to solids. Liquids can include meal replacement shakes or soups and purees must include very soft foods such as overcooked veg, runny scrambled eggs or semolina.
Keep it balanced and healthy
Reducing the size of our plates means that we need to make sure everything on there is nutritious, healthy and tasty. As you’ll be eating less, every mouthful matters! Make sure the foods that you eat are high in protein and low in sugar. We encourage you to eat vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lean meat and fish.
It’s important to eat slowly and chew your food properly to ensure we avoid a ‘stuck episode’, mostly associated with the gastric band. This means that the food is too large to pass through the band into the main part of the stomach. Also, when we eat slower, we give the body more time to tell us that we’re full, ensuring we don’t overeat.
Heather Fry BSc (Hons) Dietetics
Heather has over 9 years of experience in the field of bariatrics and knows everything there is to know about maintaining the right diet to get the most from your procedure. Here, she has provided some examples of tasty and balanced meals to try post bariatric surgery.
Breakfast for pureed stage
Curried chicken and potato
Chicken and vegetable stir fry
Physical vs emotional hunger
Weight loss surgery is very effective at controlling the physical feelings of hunger. However, in the beginning, perhaps the most difficult skill to learn is how to tell the difference between physical and emotional hunger.
Emotional hunger is the sense of wanting or needing to eat regardless of whether we are actually hungry or not. This can be due to boredom, or simply just being sociable. We’re often asked the question, “will it seem rude to eat less than everyone else?”. At first, you may find this more tricky to overcome, but once you establish the boundaries between physical and emotional hunger, you’re well on your way to success.
Take it slow
It’s really about finding a way to slow down your eating enough that you stop eating when you are no longer hungry, rather than when you are full. What’s the difference, you may ask? Well, there is a point before we are full when we are satisfied and no longer hungry. The thing is that we generally eat large mouthfuls and eat them so quickly that we pass the ‘no longer hungry’ phase and go straight to ‘full’.
A great way to recognise the ‘no longer hungry’ stage is to use an egg timer when eating your meals. Studies have shown that this increases weight loss results. Here’s how it works:
- First, take a morsel of food (morsel, not mouthful – a morsel is generally regarded as being the size of a 20p piece)
- Chew carefully for 15-20 seconds
- Wait 30 seconds (turn the 30-second egg timer over)
- Take the next morsel
- Continue to repeat the process until you are no longer hungry
Georgina used to suffer from Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH), a rare condition in which fluid in the skull places pressure on the brain, if she didn’t do anything about it, she could have gone blind.
Her gastric bypass procedure has allowed her to lose over 7 stone and her IIH has been reversed. She’s now able to live a happier and healthier life whilst maintaining her incredible weight loss. The pictures above were taken in March 2021.
Her story is amazing, and what’s more, she’s still eating all the things that she loves, just less of it! She shared with us some of the delicious meals that she’s been cooking over lockdown(s).
Other than being more careful in what you put on your plate, and regulating how you consume your foods, there are really no other ‘rules’ to be successful – apart from getting sufficient exercise, of course.
If you’re thinking of taking back control of your weight, why not speak to our team to discuss the surgical and non-surgical options available to you? Or fill in the form below to get a quote for a happier and healthier life.