(Updated Sept. 20, 2022)
There are options when it comes to a long-term diet after gastric bypass surgery — or after any of our weight-loss surgery options, for that matter. Your doctor will go over any restrictions and recommendations with you. The important thing to remember is that bariatric surgery is just one step — albeit an important one — in the lifelong process of maintaining a healthy weight.
We’ll dive into this topic at length, including a section on how to set your kitchen up for post-weight-loss success. But let’s get a few basics out of the way.
First, your specific post-weight-loss surgery diet will be tailored and customized just for you by the expert staff at Olde Del Mar Surgical. There are some similarities in all post-bariatric-surgery diets and meal plans.
- Drink water slowly to stay hydrated.
- Eat small meals.
- Avoid solid foods at first. Soft foods or pureed foods are necessary post-op.
- Monitor your protein intake. (Consider approved protein shakes).
- Avoid foods high in sugar. (Avoid fat and sugar, generally).
- Take about 30 minutes or more when eating foods post-op.
Weight-loss surgery will help you lose weight. But even months after surgery, patients must trust in their doctor’s advice and pay attention to their eating habits.
A weight-loss journey begins once a patient has decided to undergo bariatric surgery. What follows is just as important as the surgery itself. In fact, it’s more important. As Olde Del Mar Surgical’s Chief of Surgery Dr. Sunil Bhoyrul emphasizes, it’s not so much about the surgery or the weight loss or the specific diet and exercise; it’s about building a foundation of healthy habits for a lifetime.
Gastric Bypass Surgery and Long-Term Diet
Gastric bypass is a type of bariatric surgery that is usually considered a combination of restriction — meaning a reduction in food intake — and malabsorption — meaning the absorption of nutrients is reduced.
However, more recent research has revealed that gastric bypass also forces the body to undergo what’s known as a metabolic reset. This is a change in the production of gut hormones that regulate the body’s metabolic function.
Another way to think of it is resetting the body’s weight thermostat. It has to do with the hypothalamus, and the process of metabolic reset is considered to be fundamental to the long-term success of patients.
It’s also why gastric bypass (also known as Roux-en-Y) remains one of the most popular of all bariatric procedures.
Because it works.
The Surgery Itself
We perform gastric bypass surgery laparoscopically. This method is minimally invasive, using smaller incisions that allow access to a video camera and surgical tools.
During the procedure, the surgeon isolates a small portion of the stomach and creates a pouch about the size of a deck of cards.
Next, the small intestine below the stomach is cut, creating a new intestinal channel. (This is referred to as the roux limb, and it’s about 100 centimeters long.) This process results in food bypassing the rest of the stomach and the first 30 centimeters or so of the small intestine.
Then, the surgeon will connect the stomach pouch and the roux limb using a hand-sewn technique that reduces the likelihood of complications. It also causes less discomfort than more traditional stapling techniques.
The surgery takes at most two hours. Patients should expect to feel some discomfort.
Within 24 hours of surgery, patients will start with an all-liquid diet.
This brings us right back to the topic at hand.
Long-Term Diet and Gastric Bypass
The paramount post-op goal is for the patient to begin establishing and sustaining healthy weight loss until such time as an ideal weight is achieved. Afterward, we want to make sure that patients can sustain and maintain that healthy, ideal weight.
That’s why the long-term diet after gastric bypass surgery is so important.
Let’s examine how to set up your kitchen for healthy eating after gastric bypass surgery. These recommendations should help anyone looking to eat healthier, but it’s especially important for patients who have undergone gastric bypass.
Organizing your kitchen can have a major impact on sticking with post-gastric-bypass diet plans.
When you set up your kitchen for healthy eating, establishing and maintaining those healthy eating habits is simplified. A cluttered kitchen filled with “red flag” foods can really sabotage one’s diet.
Here are some simple tips for setting your kitchen up for healthy eating and long-term diet after gastric bypass.
1. Shelve the Sweets
Stash away the chips, cookies, and other unhealthy snack foods. Better yet, clear them out of your kitchen altogether.
2. Purchase a kitchen scale
A small, inexpensive digital kitchen scale is a must-have tool for every healthy kitchen. Eyeballing the recommended portion size for lean proteins, such as chicken breast, tuna, and other meats, can be difficult.
Don’t leave your measurements to chance and guesswork. Buy a kitchen scale that has a tare feature that allows you to weigh items directly on your serving plate.
To tare a scale is to effectively cancel or zero out the weight of containers, bowls, plates, and more.
Basically, it ensures that what you’re weighing is the food itself, and not the containers.
3. Have measuring cups and spoons handy
Healthy eating is all about portion size. Make sure you keep one or two measuring cups and a set of measuring spoons handy.
4. Make room in the refrigerator
Healthy foods, including fresh greens, vegetables, lean proteins, and fruits, can take up lots of space in the fridge. Be sure to make room for them! That way, you’ll be more likely to reach for healthy foods since they’re easy to grab when hunger strikes.
5. Sharpen up your knives
Preparing healthy foods often means peeling, slicing, and dicing. You’ll need to have a few good-quality, sharp knives on hand. A paring knife and a chef’s knife are must-haves.
A sturdy vegetable peeler is also handy for prepping carrots, apples, potatoes, and cucumbers.
If you’re really adventurous, consider investing in a mandoline slicer for paper-thin, picture-perfect slices of your favorite meats, cheeses, and veggies.
6. Have a good nonstick pan at the ready
Preparing low-fat proteins, such as chicken breasts, fish fillets, and lean steak, is made easier when one has a high-quality, nonstick frying pan in the kitchen arsenal.
Look for a pan rated for temperatures of 450 degrees or higher; that way, you can use the pan on the stovetop and inside your oven.
Another good tip that has proven useful to many of our bariatric patients: After undergoing gastric bypass (or lap band, gastric sleeve, etc.), you’ll be eating much smaller portion sizes than you did prior to the weight loss procedure. Thus, when setting up a kitchen for healthy eating, consider investing in smaller-sized dinner plates and serving bowls to match your new serving sizes.
So those are some tips on how to prepare for a long-term diet after gastric bypass surgery. To learn more about how Olde Del Mar Surgical can assist you in your weight-loss goals, please don’t wait to get in touch with us.
We have both surgical and nonsurgical weight-loss options, so we can tailor a program that’s just right for you.
We look forward to hearing from you.
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