Dietitan Dr Karolina Bauraite cautioned that some people regain up to 25 percent of the weight they lost within 10 years of surgery. Thus, it is key for patients to build a healthy relationship with food following the operation. Immediately after surgery, patients go through four dietary stages: liquids, purées, soft foods, and then solid foods. “After the first month after surgery, bariatric patients are recommended to choose soft foods, such as thick soups, and stews,” said Dr Bauraite.
Patients must also learn to “chew the food well”, but the “real work starts in the second month”.
This is when a person needs to make adjustments to their lifestyle; they must create new eating habits and stick to them for the rest of their lives.
Common mistakes patients make following surgery:
- Rushing through meals
- Not drinking enough water
- Not chewing well enough
- Not consuming enough proteins
- Returning to dry, solid foods too soon.
Dr Bauraite recommends that patients go over the post-operative diet (the four stages) slowly.
READ MORE: Testosterone deficiency syndrome – feeling dreadfully unhappy might not be depression
How long to spend on each stage
The NHS recommends that a “typical plan” involves the first few days consuming only water and fluids, such as thin soup.
Then for four weeks afterwards, runny food is allowed, such as yoghurt or puréed food.
Then from week four to week six, soft foods can be added into the mix, such as mashed potato.
Then from six weeks onwards, you can “gradually” return to a healthy, balanced diet.
Dr Bauraite advised that each meal should take at least half hour to eat, and people should not eat or drink anything 30 minutes before and after meals.
People should adhere to eating three main meals per day, and one to two pre-planned snacks, the dietitian added.
Dr Bauraite also says that if you are already full, there is no reason to finish your meal.
“The meals should be balanced and contain protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats,” she said.
Who gets weight loss surgery?
Weight loss surgery is available on the NHS when:
- You have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more
- You’ve attempted diets and exercise without success
- You agree to longer-term follow-up appointments after surgery.
The most common types of weight loss surgery are: the gastric band, the gastric bypass, and the sleeve gastrectomy.
A gastric band is placed around the stomach, so you do not need to eat as much to feel full.
Meanwhile, a gastric bypass is when the top part of the stomach is joined to the small intestine.
This will make you feel fuller much sooner, and you would not absorb as many calories from food.
Then the sleeve gastrectomy is when some of the stomach is removed, so you are unable to eat as much as you once did, and you’d feel fuller much sooner.
“All these operations can lead to significant weight loss within a few years, but each has advantages and disadvantages,” the NHS added.
In addition to following a healthy balanced diet following surgery, you will need to exercise regularly and attend follow-up appointments with your doctor.
Dr Karolina Bauraite is a bariatric dietitian at Nordbariatric Clinic.