We could end this blog here, but it’s very important to stress that bariatric surgery will not limit your options when dining out or socializing post-surgery. In fact, in many ways, it’s more flexible than many of the fad and extreme diets that we have tried before, most of which will no longer “work” once you stop eating within their extreme limitations.
Bariatric surgery certainly limits the amount of food you can eat and can affect how we feel when we consume fats, excess sugar, and carbonation (think dumping syndrome after gastric bypass). But with those parameters in place, your social life not only remains intact, but becomes infinitely better. This only improves as you feel better about yourself and the empowerment you gain as you see the changes in your body and in your outlook.
There are different phases along the journey to bariatric surgery. If you are just getting started and insurance requires you complete a medical weight loss plan, you will be encouraged to change your eating patterns to enhance your surgical success. This new way of eating also prepares you mentally with the discipline and understanding that post-surgery life will be a challenge.
Once you’ve met your medical weight loss requirement, you will enter the pre-surgery diet phase. This is the short period (2 weeks) leading up to your actual procedure and is a restrictive meal plan that allows your liver to shrink before undergoing surgery.
Once surgery is complete, you enter the recovery phase which is the post-surgery clear liquid diet, followed by a liquid diet and then the soft-solids diet. We want to take as much pressure off our system as it heals and readjusts.
And then comes “Real Life”
We’ve healed, we are feeling great, and now we must be mindful of how our new system works. While few foods are considered “off-limits,” moderation will be more than ever important. You cannot overwhelm your system, stuff it full of empty calories, or binge on a whim. Your body will be mad at you, and it will tell you. You’ll feel discomfort, bloating, have diarrhea, and may experience dumping syndrome. While not dangerous, it is extremely uncomfortable and a built-in reminder that this is not the way you are meant to nourish yourself. Choices then slowly become automatic. You learn and understand that your body works best and feels best when you moderate.
So, when it comes to eating out, there are no “bad places and “or” restricted foods.” But you will need to live within a new framework that you’ve worked so hard to own. You will continue to learn that high-fat and high-sugar food choices not only do not agree with you but can stall your progress. You will hydrate with lots of water because you will notice a difference in your skin, alertness, and general wellness when you do. But these can’t be told to you, they must be lived. And by adopting the recommended guidelines at each phase of your progress, they become easier and more understood and one day become natural choices in your day to day.
If this seems intimidating, believe us when we say that it isn’t. At first, you might be worried about what’s right or wrong, but soon it will become second nature. Remember that you have our practice as a resource and cheering you on while helping you through any challenges…from day one.