Lifelong changes: New eating habits
One of the most difficult things to do after WLS, is to change your eating habits. With the “new” digestive system, your body has been rewired to process food differently. But for that to give you good results, you need to reprogram your brain also. That is the hardest part to do.
Days after WLS you will be ready for anything, you will be full of positive energy and happy to get this finally going. You will be reading all the food labels, you will even weight your food to do everything right by the book…. But then time goes by, you enter your 3rd month, then your 6th, and you start to do things differently:
You discover that those Nachos are not harming you, that little burger is not asking for revenge after you ate it. And, you are loosing weight anyways, so it’s not a big deal... no? Well, yes it is! You have to change your habits, completely or you will fail faster than you think.
Top 5 Healthy Eating Habits
- Food labels make it easy to find fat and calorie counts. Start reading the labels and you’ll stick to your diet plan.
- Don’t deprive yourself. You can still enjoy your favorite foods as long as you control portion size.
- When you’re dieting, tell other people what you’re trying to do. It helps to build support and accountability.
- If you reach your goal weight, keep eating right and exercising in order to maintain it.
- Rather than eating foods that have the same texture and color, spice it up by choosing ones that differ in those areas. The variety will help keep meals interesting and easier for you to maintain your diet.
Changes to Success
After three months, expect to eat three small meals and three small, healthy snacks a day. Your meals typically include lean sources of protein (such as poultry without skin or low-fat cottage cheese) fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Limit or avoid high-sugar, high-fat foods, which provide many calories but few nutrients.
The changes in your digestive system restrict how much you can eat and drink with each meal. To avoid problems and to ensure you're getting all the nutrients you need, closely follow these guidelines:
- Eat small amounts. Just after surgery, your stomach holds only about 1 ounce of food. Though your stomach stretches over time to hold more food, you won't be able to eat more than 1 to 1 1/2 cups of food with each meal. Eating too much food adds extra calories and can cause pain, nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramps. Make sure you eat only the recommended amounts and stop eating before you feel full.
- Eat and drink slowly. Eating or drinking too quickly, especially high-sugar foods such as soda or ice cream, can cause dumping syndrome — when foods and liquids enter your small intestine rapidly and in larger amounts than normal, causing nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness and sweating. To prevent dumping syndrome, eat your food and sip your beverages slowly. Take at least 30 minutes to eat your meals and 30 to 60 minutes to drink 1 cup of liquid.
- Chew food thoroughly. The new opening that leads from your stomach into your intestine is very small and large pieces of food can easily block the opening. Blockages prevent food from leaving your stomach and could cause vomiting. Take small bites of food and chew them to a pureed consistency. If you can't chew the food thoroughly, don't swallow it.
- Drink most of your fluids between meals. Drinking beverages with your meals may cause pain, nausea and vomiting as well as dumping syndrome. Also, too many liquids at mealtime may leave you feeling overly full and prevent you from eating enough nutrient-rich foods. Expect to drink about 6 to 8 cups of fluids a day to prevent dehydration.
- Try new foods one at a time. After surgery, certain foods may cause nausea, pain, vomiting or may block the opening of the stomach. To find out which foods are OK to eat and which cause you trouble, try one new food at a time. Foods that commonly cause trouble include dry tough meats, bread, raw vegetables and carbonated beverages.
- Take recommended vitamin and mineral supplements. After surgery, your body has difficulty absorbing certain nutrients because most of your stomach and the first part of your small intestine are bypassed. To prevent a vitamin or mineral deficiency, take vitamin and mineral supplements regularly. These may include a multivitamin-multimineral, calcium, vitamin B-12 and possibly an iron supplement.