Article written by Nancy D. Brown
This is the second in a series that will help you deal with bariatric weight-loss surgery and travel.
Part 2: Bariatric lifestyle & nutrition
Part 3: Bariatric support groups & travel
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, I am a travel writer. You should not consider my bariatric journey as professional medical advice. Consult with your doctor to see if this life changing decision is right for you.
Lifestyle & nutrition post Bariatric surgery
To be honest, meeting with the dietitian at John Muir Medical Center was not fun. In fact, reality and the lifestyle I would be leaving behind came crashing down all around me. Yet I knew the dietitian was there to lend support in my weight-loss journey and help guide me and provide accurate nutrition information in a realistic light. Now I view my dietitian as a resource for sharing healthy eating tips.
As a luxury food, wine and travel writer, I typically go on two trips per month in search of story ideas and writing assignments. These “dream vacations” as some of my friends refer to them, often involve luxury spa treatments, gourmet meals and active outdoor adventures. My experiences are often once-in-a-lifetime holidays for the typical traveler. Most people eat like they are on vacation once a year. Unfortunately, I eat like I’m on vacation once a week and it shows in my waistline and my body mass index.
The USDA Food Guidance System was established to improve the nutrition and well-being of Americans. The My Plate graphic illustrates the five food groups that are the building blocks for a healthy diet. Healthy eating and proper nutrition is especially important with bariatric weight-loss patients.
“We strongly emphasize that this surgery is only a tool for weight loss. The patient is responsible for making many of these dietary changes on a daily basis, not only to achieve their desired weight loss goals, but to also maintain their overall health for years to come,” said Sarah Bailey, RD, Clinical Dietitian, John Muir Health.
- Overall, patients are encouraged to consume 3 protein-focused meals per day, with minimal sugar and carbohydrate intake as able.
- Eat slowly: Chew foods 15-20 times before swallowing, don’t rush through meals. Meals should last ~30 minutes.
- Protein recommendations: Consume 3 protein-focused meals per day. Consult your dietitian to find out your daily protein needs. Protein supplements will be beneficial in reaching your protein goals.
- Protein supplement criteria:
<25g total carbohydrates/serving
- Fluids recommendations: Drink at least 64oz of sugar-free, non-carbonated fluids per day. Consume ~1oz every 10-15 minutes throughout the day. SIP, do not gulp and do not use a straw. AVOID carbonated, sweetened, alcoholic, and caffeinated beverages.
- No beverages with meals: Avoid fluids 30 minutes after meals to avoid overfilling stomach.
- Exercise: Overall goal is to work up to exercising at least 30-45 minutes 4-5x/week for health and weight management benefits.
- Vitamins & Mineral recommendations: Vitamin and mineral supplementation is recommended long-term, chewable or liquid forms may be better tolerated. Below is a list of what my nutritionist recommends – consult your dietitian for your personal guidelines;
-Complete multivitamin with iron
-Calcium citrate 1200-1500mg/day (best to do 500mg doses 3x/day)
-Vitamin D 3000 IU/day
-B12 1000mcg 1x/week
Relationship with food
“The question is not whether we will die, but how we live,” author Joan Borysenko.
Unlike addictions to drugs or alcohol, we need food to live. So it follows that the bariatric weight loss patient needs to learn to live with food. If we understand our food addiction, hopefully we will be more mindful of our food recovery, seek out healthy foods and try to avoid emotional eating.
Bariatric weight loss support
So what caused my shift in favor of bariatric surgery? After two consultations with bariatric surgeons, three bariatric nutrition appointments and attending three bariatric weight loss support group meetings over a three month time period, I began to fully understand the bariatric weight loss process. I listened, I learned and I asked questions. While your experience may be different than mine, I found that every post surgery patient I spoke with was thankful for their decision to have had bariatric weight loss surgery.