Your weight loss journey begins before you have bariatric surgery with dietary changes to jumpstart weight loss. Once you have your bariatric procedure, your doctor will put on a very restrictive diet. For example, you will not be able to eat high carb foods–which may not be surprising. However, it may surprise you that some foods you can't eat are considered highly nutritious.
Bariatric surgery helps you lose weight; still, it is not the cure-all for obesity. Understanding what happens during the operation and why you should avoid eating certain foods (like high carb foods) will help increase your chance of success.
What Is Bariatric Surgery?
Bariatric surgery describes surgical procedures performed on patients who suffer from obesity. It is referred to as weight loss surgery since the goal is to limit a patient's food intake by altering the digestive system to achieve weight loss.
How Bariatric Surgery Works
If successful, bariatric surgery will help eliminate or minimize the risk of obesity-related diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure. The surgery will either be restrictive or restrictive and malabsorptive. Restrictive describes the portion of the operation that limits the amount of food you can eat at one sitting. Malabsorptive describes the part of the surgery that limits your ability to absorb calories and nutrients.
Common Types of Bariatric Surgeries
There are four common types of weight loss surgeries: Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (gastric bypass), Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (lap-band), Sleeve gastrectomy (gastric sleeve), and Duodenal switch with biliopancreatic diversion (duodenal switch).
The gastric bypass surgery is a restrictive and malabsorptive surgical technique. The surgeon makes a pouch at the upper of the abdomen which to limit the amount of food you can eat. Then part of the small intestine is cut and attached to the newly created pouch, therefore, limiting the number of calories and nutrients you absorb.
Like the gastric bypass, the surgery, the gastric bypass is restrictive because it limits the amount of food you can eat and drink in one sitting. The surgeon makes a small incision and places a band with an inflatable balloon around the top part of the abdomen. The surgeon places a port near the band allowing the doctor to adjust the size of the band in the future.
The gastric sleeve, like the gastric bypass, restricts the amount of food you can eat but it does not alter the number of nutrients and calories the body absorbs. The gastric sleeve involves the permanent removal of most of the patient's abdomen and is irreversible.
The duodenal switch is the most complicated surgery of the four bariatric surgeries and also results in the most weight loss. It involves two separate procedures. The first closely resembles the gastric sleeve operation—the surgeon removes most of the stomach but leaves the valve that releases food to the small intestine and the initial part of the small intestine (the duodenum) intact. In the second part of the surgery, the surgeon closes off the middle section of the small intestine and then connects the lower portion to the duodenum.
What Should You Eat During Recovery
Your body may change what foods it accepts post surgery. Some changes may be temporary while your body may never have the ability to tolerate some foods you ate before the surgery. Right after the surgery, your dietician (or doctor) will have you on a medically supervised diet. You will need to be on a phased or graduated diet to give your digestive system a chance to heal. Not following the diet can lead to some severe consequences.
Phase 1: Liquid Foods
Your stomach is extremely vulnerable right after your surgery. Your stomach and intestine will need time to heal. Ingesting anything but liquids put you at risk of disrupting the healing process. Expect to be on a liquid diet at least two or three weeks post surgery.
Phase 2: Puree Foods
Once your body can tolerate liquids consistently, your doctor will then move you to a pureed food diet. The food you eat at this stage should be smooth and thick with the consistency of mashed potatoes or milkshakes. How and when you eat are also critical. You will need to eat anywhere from three to six small meals each day. You must eat your food very slowly; for example, 4 to 6 tablespoons of food (one serving) should take about 30 minutes to eat.
Phase 3: Soft Foods
Your soft foods phase is the final stage before introducing you to solid foods. Soft foods include foods that require little or no chewing, easy to swallow, and gentle on the stomach. At this stage, you are eating up to 1/2 cup of food three to five times a day. Chew your food thoroughly and eat slowly.
Phase 4: Solid Foods
About two months post-surgery, your doctor will introduce solid foods to your diet. Your meal variations depend on how well you tolerate solid foods. Since you do not know which foods may cause discomfort, you should introduce new foods one at a time.
Eat three times a day with each meal consisting of no more than 1 1/2 cups of food. Your medical team will work with on increasing the frequency or the amount of food you eat. Remember to stop eating when you're full.
Your New Lifestyle
Gastric bypass changes the way your digestive system processes food and require permanent lifestyle changes.
Your doctor or dietician may have you do some or all of the following:
5 High Carb Foods to Avoid
Learning to eat after bariatric surgery is in part challenging since not all high carb foods are bad for you. There are three types of carbs: sugar, starches, and fiber. High carb foods from sugars are simple carbs while carbohydrates from starches or fiber are complex carbs.
You will want to avoid high carb foods whether they have a high nutritional value. High carb foods lurk in food that has little or no nutritional benefits, some high-fat foods, alcohol, high-starch carbs, and high-fiber carbs.
1. Avoid Food With Empty Calories
Avoid foods that have no nutritional benefits. Your stomach is reduced to a fraction of its size. If you eat or drink empty calories, your body will have a hard time healing. Furthermore, it increases your chance of suffering from malnourishment. Some high carb foods that serve up empty calories include sodas, juices, candy, chips, pastries, and crackers.
2. Avoid With Avoid High-Fat Foods
Some foods that are high in fat are also high carb foods. Watch the calories in foods like milk, ice cream, and yogurt. Your doctor may allow you to eat some low-sugar/low-fat versions of this food. Ask your doctor or dietician about any foods you think may fit in this category before adding it to your diet.
3. Avoid Alcohol
Bariatric surgery may permanently lower your ability to tolerate alcohol. You should also avoid alcohol because it is an empty calorie food and it can have high carbs. Some alcohol drinks that may fit in the high carbs food drinks are beer, wine, and mixed drinks (e.g., strawberry daiquiri).
4. Avoid High-Starch Carbohydrates
Starchy foods are one of the high carb foods that could cause some risks to your procedure. Some foods we love like bread and pasta become pasty and sticky when chewed. The stickiness is noticeable because you cannot drink with your meals and you may have problems swallowing starchy foods.
5. Avoid High-Fiber Vegetables
Usually, high-fiber vegetables are good for you to eat because most of them are very nutritious. One of the reasons why they are bad for you (post-bariatric surgery) is the same reason why they are good for you. This is that high-fiber vegetables are difficult to digest. High carb foods like broccoli, corn, and celery linger in the stomach.
The Risks of Noncompliance to Dietary Restrictions
Following your post-operative diet is not only critical for healing, but it is also vital to your long-term success. While the surgery assists you in losing weight, it won't cure obesity—your lifestyle will.
There are consequences for eating foods you should avoid. You may experience dumping syndrome if you do not comply with your dietary restrictions. Dumping syndrome is when the food enters the small intestines too quickly. Symptoms include feeling bloated, nauseous and dizzy. You also get stomach pains and diarrhea.
Other consequences for not avoiding high carb foods include nausea, vitamin deficiency, difficulty swallowing, and blockage. Talk to your doctor or dietician before adding new foods to your diet.
Medical researchers are continually discovering new ways to combat obesity. Eliminating obesity will reduce occurrences of conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and some cancers which will ultimately decrease morbidity due to these issues. Bariatric surgery has given many patients hope and courage to lose weight. Bariatric surgery is a magic bullet; however, you are the one who controls its success.