Post-operatively you will experience a variety of changes. Most of these changes will occur all at once. There is no adequate way to prepare you for what it is going to feel like when you wake up to a stomach that will hold only 2-4 ounces of volume. Perhaps the closet analogy is the sensation one gets after eating Thanksgiving dinner. However, the amount of food or fluid it takes to give you that sensation occurs only after a few sips of liquid, or bites of food.
Overtime, the gastric pouch/sleeve matures. It will never return to the size of the pre-operative stomach. When your pouch/sleeve is at its smallest size, this is the opportune time to learn and develop the eating and drinking patterns that must stay with you for life.
Carbonated Beverages, Caffeine, and Sweeteners
The surgeons at Rocky Mountain Associated Physicians (RMAP) strongly advise against the consumption of carbonated beverages. They are often high in sugar and caffeine. Carbonation distends even normal size stomachs and postpones the sensation of fullness. Even de-caffeinated and sugar-free varieties can have weight loss sabotaging effects as they increase cravings for sweets.
Caffeine is a known diuretic. Post-operatively maintaining proper hydration is essential to good health. Caffeine will need to be avoided. Artificial and natural sweeteners are known to increase cravings and cause hunger in-between meals. Consume these additives in moderation and dilute pre-mixed drinks, or flavored water.
Drinks containing alcohol are often carbonated and always high in sugar. They are of no nutritional value. The absorption of alcohol significantly changes after surgery. It is absorbed faster and intoxication occurs sooner. If you do drink alcohol after bariatric surgery, keep in mind that you will reach the legal limit of blood alcohol levels much sooner than you did in the past. The surgeons at RMAP suggest that patients refrain from drinking alcohol. Talk to your surgeon/provider about safe ways to consume alcohol.
Water should be your beverage of choice now and after bariatric surgery. Water flushes toxins out of your body. Prior to surgery and after, you should be drinking at minimum at least 64 ounces of water a day. After surgery, drinking enough water and at appropriate times, is essential to long-term weight loss.
After bariatric surgery, you are given dietary and fitness guidelines that you must implement and follow for the rest of your life. Your dietary instructions will be to consume 70% protein and 30% vegetables while avoiding additional carbohydrates (bread, rice, pasta). Diet and fitness will be essential to long-term success.
Bariatric surgery is a huge commitment. If you go into this with an attitude that you can cheat the surgery and find ways to prepare the foods you have always eaten, then you have already failed and long-term success will be limited. Decide now that you will follow the directions of your surgeon/provider with the right attitude and take charge of the life you want. Talk to your surgeon/provider about any concerns you have from the beginning. Make sure you feel comfortable with the commitment you are making.
Support Groups and Classes
Attending support groups and classes are a great way to interact with others who have undergone bariatric surgery. Support groups and classes provide interaction and support with other patients. In these meetings, the sharing of personal experiences helps provide support both emotionally and physically. Support group and education will help you ensure your long-term success.
The surgeons at RMAP require that all patients invest real dollars into an educational program. Utilize your program, websites, classes, and support groups to continually assist and remind you of the lifestyle of health that is essential for your success.
Remember that bariatric surgery is only a tool. When utilized correctly, it is an effective means of losing weight and keeping it off. Most patients are surprised to discover that even after surgery they have to be aware of what they are eating, drinking, and engage in exercise to maintain long-term weight loss.
The surgeons and staff at RMAP will help you to be a long-term success, but the ultimate decision is yours and yours alone to make. The decision to undergo the life changing surgery should never be taken lightly. Begin your preparation both mentally and physically now! This will minimize your risks and improve your long-term success.