#41 5 Nutrition Steps to Prepare for Bariatric Surgery

bariatric surgery success podcast beyond bariatric surgery podcast

HOST: Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Dr. Susan Mitchell 

Congratulations, you’ve made a big decision to have bariatric surgery and begin a new journey for your health. Way to go. Bariatric surgery is a terrific tool to help you lose weight. But keep in mind from the very beginning that it’s not the sole answer. Surgery is just one of the spokes in the wheel to success. Hand in hand with surgery is your lifestyle and the willingness to make changes that become part of the way you live from now on. Begin to prepare for surgery with these five steps to get you in the best place possible from a nutrition standpoint. 

Hi, I’m registered dietitian nutritionist Dr. Susan Mitchell. You’re listening to the Bariatric Surgery Success podcast episode number 41. Recently in the podcast 3 Surprising Health Benefits of Chocolate, we talked about how surgery doesn’t change your brain or desires for certain foods. Part of successfully incorporating the occasional chocolate in your eating plan is understanding and practicing mindful eating or being aware of what you eat, why you eat it and how much you’re eating. So if you haven’t grabbed my Freebie, 6 Tips to Eat Mindfully, be sure and do that now. I’ll put the link in the show notes but you can also find it on my homepage Breaking Down Nutrition

Link for Mindfulness Freebie:  https://bit.ly/3mMS3wM 

Depending on where you have surgery, your surgical center may have a pre-surgery nutrition evaluation with a dietitian and maybe a pre-surgery diet and supplement schedule. Be sure and follow these guidelines closely and whatever else they suggest or require. Additionally let’s look at five steps you can do now. Remember that these changes to your behavior and lifestyle not only benefit weight loss but can substantially improve related health issues such as diabetes or non alcoholic fatty liver disease or fat in the liver.

1. Start now to become aware of how much you eat and get a good estimate of the number of calories you consume each day. How to do this? I love using an app on my phone/online or both whichever is easier for you. There are many to chose from. Three of my favorites are NutritionIX, Lose It! and My Fitness Pal. I’ll put the links to these three in the show notes. Ok, so your thinking, really, what a pain in the patootie. I hear you but will tell you, once you start (if you’re honest with yourself), a food record kept for a week or two, ongoing if you want, is a real eye-opener. The caveat here is being honest with yourself. We have a tendency to log what we feel good about and not the real stuff right? Don’t miss this. Log the real stuff, what you really eat and how much. To make lasting lifestyle tweaks you want to see patterns. For example, do you snack at night most every night in front of the TV? Do you eat when you’re stressed? Do you reach for goodies when you’re upset? If you log what you eat along with what’s going on when you eat it, you’ll start to see trends. These trends are the key to your journey and behavior changes. Why does this matter? Finding your patterns and then working to make behavior changes will help prevent that dreaded weight regain that you hear about and hate.

Food Record Apps: 




2. Start cutting back now on beverages with added sugars such as soda. If beverages with added sugars are a part of your lifestyle, you may notice weight loss when you cut down. Significantly increase the amount of water you drink daily as you cut back on the sweetened beverages. Dehydration following surgery is a common issue so get used to drinking a lot of water now. OK, you get sick of plain water. I hear that often. Instead of flavored carbonated water which you’ll be cutting out before and after surgery, add slices of orange, lemon, lime, cucumber or pieces of fresh basil to add flavor. How much should you drink? Aim for 64 ounces a day or almost 2 liters.

3. Start to pay attention to portion sizes. When you start a food log, you look at what you eat, how you feel when you eat it and also at how much you eat. This is where mindfulness or mindful eating comes into play. Change doesn’t happen overnight. You’ve likely been eating a certain way for a long time so remember one small step at a time that becomes a new behavior or lifestyle for you. Don’t expect perfection or you’ll set yourself up for failure as you’ll feel like you can never do this. You can, you can do it. It takes time and that’s OK. It took time to get where you are and this is the beginning of a new journey not an overnight unrealistic success story. Don’t expect it. What to do. One of my strategies is to use a salad plate instead of a dinner plate as well as a small glass. Food on a small plate looks like a lot and reduces the feeling of deprivation. Same with the glass. So put the dinner plates away now and begin to watch portions. Make them smaller. 

4. Start on bariatric supplements. You’ll likely receive a list of vitamin and mineral supplements to take. In the past, we didn’t have good bariatric products so regular over the counter supplements were suggested. Today, there are numerous high quality bariatric supplements to meet your needs. Consider starting a good bariatric multi vitamin-mineral supplement. You may need additional calcium, vitamin D, iron and vitamin B-12 so have this discussion with your health care team. If you missed it, listen to podcast number #33 5 Things to Know about Vitamin D, Bariatric Surgery and Your Bones The podcast will give you more information on how much vitamin D you need.

5. Start to be picky about your food choices. Cut back on foods that are highly refined meaning they’re typically low in fiber and/or high in added sugars and fat such as sweets, candy, cakes and cookies along with chips, bagels, white rice and white bread. Choose more fresh fruits and veggies, nuts and seeds, whole grains and lean protein choices such as beans, salmon, tuna and turkey or chicken. Remember there are no good or bad foods only more healthful choices. When foods are labeled good and bad, you start to feel good and bad about yourself because of what you chose to eat.  Listen closely. Food does not make you good or bad, remember that. It’s just food and you can make smart choices.

Don’t forget to join me in the NEW private FB group, the Bariatric Surgery Success community. You’ll see the link to join in the weekly newsletter or you can join right now from the website. You’ll see the JOIN button on the homepage. And if you’re not receiving the newsletter, sign up while you’re on the homepage. You’ll be the first to know about new podcast episodes, freebies and other resources. Have a good week and I’ll see you in the Facebook group.




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