Preparations For Life After Bariatric Surgery

Kirsty at RealSelf on 7 Oct 2010 at 11:05am

So, you’ve taken the huge step of deciding to have bariatric surgery. You’re coming up on your procedure date and, most importantly, the second part of a life long journey: Changing your lifestyle. What do you do first? What is most important? What tools are you going to need?

Below you will find a list of 8 things that will help prepare you for life after bariatric surgery.

Make Sure You’re Informed
This is a huge decision, which is going to have a life-long altering effect on you and the way you live your life.

Make sure you read everything that the doctor gives you, listen to everything they say and take notes if you need to. Ask them as many questions as possible until you’re satisfied.

Go online and talk to people who have already had the procedure, join a site such as RealSelf.com and read reviews, ask doctors questions and interact with others in the same position.

The more educated you are, the more you know about what to expect and what is expected of you, the better prepared you will be.

Mental Preparation
It may sound simple but you’re going to be experiencing a lot of changes in a relatively short period of time. Your body, face and features will change, and if you’ve been large most of your adult life, you may not recognize the person that looks back at you in the mirror.

Talk to your doctor to find out exactly what you can expect. Find a support group through your doctor/hospital/church or an online bariatric forum and speak to people who have had the surgery or are going through the process with you. Also, talk to your family, make sure they’re supportive of you and that they also know what to expect post-surgery.

Re-Learn How to Eat
After you have your surgery you won’t be able to take huge bites, gulp your liquid or eat fast. Your pouch is going to be very small and won’t be able to take the eating regime that your currently have. You will need to take small bites, chewing them until the food is in tiny pieces. You’ll need to eat slowly; this you will learn with the smaller bites and longer chewing process. You also need to sip your liquid slowly.

You should start this process before surgery so that you’re prepared for your first post-surgery intake of food and liquid.

Drop High Sugar, High Fat Foods
You're not going to be able to eat these things after surgery. If, like a lot of bariatric surgery patients, you’re susceptible to "dumping syndrome" then you will learn very fast that your body can’t tolerate these foods anymore. If you’re lucky enough not to suffer from "dumping syndrome" then continuing to eat these foods will stop you from losing weight.

You should start pre-surgery by swapping out high fat items for lower fat alternatives. You can swap your sugar for sweetener: Same sweet taste, less calories. Have a look around for healthy eating recipes and try them out so you have a few basic ideas for your post-surgery meals.

Start Exercising
Exercise is going to be a big part of your life post-surgery. Of course the surgery itself will restrict the amount of food you can eat, which in turn will start you losing weight. However, you will soon plateau if you don’t work some sort of exercise into your daily routine.

Start exercising pre-surgery, even if it’s walking around your back yard for 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes at night. You’ll soon get your fitness level up and be able to take on more challenging exercise. Any form of excursion, over and above your current routine, will help you.

Start taking Daily Vitamins and Minerals
Not only does bariatric surgery restrict the amount of nutrients your body absorbs from food, it also allows you to eat less, which in turn restricts the amount of nutrient-rich food you start out with.

Start taking a daily vitamin and mineral pill. You can usually get one-a-day vitamin pills, which have 100% of most of your daily requirements. Speak to your local pharmacy and see what is best for you.

Starting to take these pre-surgery will help get you into a routine and will also help your body prepare for the changes ahead.

Research the Different Products You May Need
There are going to be a lot of changes in your life after having your bariatric surgery. You are going to be using new products like protein powders, vitamins and low fat foods. There are tons of these products available so research them, try them out and find out what you like and what you don’t.

You may want to think about buying certain items such as scales to weigh your food and small bowls or Tupperware to make exact portions for freezing.

You should also ensure you have some smaller-sized clothing ready. You are going to lose a large volume of weight in a short period of time. You may want to have a few shirts and trousers handy to ensure you have “transition” clothing.

Prepare for Some Small Disappointments
Although you will lose a lot of weight after bariatric surgery, there are times when your weight will plateau for a while or you may put on a pound or two. This happens with a lot of people and can occur for a number of reasons such as: A drop in exercise levels, a rise in food consumption (or the wrong types of food), your body settling to the changes that are occurring, or something as simple as having a menstrual period.

The important thing to remember is not to panic. You won’t lose something every single week. If the plateau or weight gain goes on for more than a few weeks then look at your routine and consumption, try and find where changes may have occurred and talk to your doctor.