Your Guide to Weight-Loss Success After Bariatric Surgery
By Teresa Garvey, MS, RD, CSOWM, Registered Dietitian
Virtua Food Farmacy
When you decide you want to live a healthier life, and you make the decision to have bariatric surgery, you’re making a serious commitment to yourself and to changing what you eat, how you eat, and how you think about food.
Bariatric surgery is a tool to help you jumpstart weight loss. But, what you do in your first year will help you maximize your weight loss. The amount of weight you lose—and how fast you lose it—depends on what weight-loss surgery you have and your commitment to following the program. Your level of weight loss also depends on your age, gender, starting body mass index (BMI), and your ability to adhere to lifestyle changes necessary to make surgery a success.
These tips can help you reach your weight-loss and health goals and achieve long-term weight-loss success.
Changing what you eat
Staying hydrated, drinking water, and consuming protein are a vital part of your diet and recovery after bariatric surgery. Drinking water is important for keeping cells, hair, and skin hydrated and for eliminating waste. You should plan to drink at least 2 to 3 quarts (64 to 96 ounces) of non-carbonated water/liquid per day.
Protein helps promote satiety (feeling of being full after eating). It should be included in all of your meals after surgery as it provides many important benefits to weight-loss surgery patients, including:
- Aids in proper wound healing after surgery
- Helps keep your skin, hair, bones, and nails healthy
- Helps form hormones, enzymes, and immune system antibodies that help your body function effectively
- Helps your body burn fat instead of muscle for healthier weight loss
- Supports your metabolism so you lose weight quicker
- Helps curb hunger between meals
Since bariatric surgery reduces the capacity of the stomach to a very small volume, high-protein foods always should be eaten FIRST or you may become too full to eat them.
If you keep track of your fluid and protein intake in a journal, it will help to ensure you stay hydrated and healthy as you’re establishing new habits and losing weight. It also helps to know what healthy foods to keep on hand so you have all the building blocks to create nourishing meals and snacks.
Changing how you eat
Weight-loss success after bariatric surgery hinges on making lifestyle changes that support your success.
One lifestyle challenge is breaking or changing food habits. You need to evaluate or question the habits that might interfere with your success and plan for how you’ll manage them:
- Do you live with family members who have very different eating habits from you?
- Are you conditioned to eat foods at certain times, like popcorn in the movie theater, ice cream on the couch while watching TV, or nachos during football games?
- Does your job or lifestyle keep you on the run most of the day?
- Do you eat when you’re stressed, sad, or bored?
- Do you crave foods even if you’ve just eaten, like sweets or crunchy snacks?
Now, reflect on these habits and come up with a list of solutions that can help set you up for success.
One helpful strategy is to be intentional with your daily schedule from the beginning—starting with a journal:
- At the end of your day, roadmap what your next day looks like.
- Account for meetings, appointments, phone calls, kids’ practices and games, and special events.
- Now schedule in your meals and snacks and write down what you’ll be eating so you’re not tempted to grab fast food or unhealthy snacks.
- Each day, evaluate your day to see where you succeeded and where you struggled and write down how you were feeling when you ate so you can identify habits or trends that may affect your success.
- Bring your journal to your dietitian appointments so you can get feedback and recommendations customized to your lifestyle and challenges.
Changing how you think about food
As you change your diet and behaviors, it’s also important to emphasize that, while your food choices have changed, what you’re eating can STILL be as delicious as it is nourishing.
- Learn to eat foods in their whole, natural form.
- Use the acronym FOG to guide you—is it from a Farm, Ocean, or from the Ground in its natural state? If so, these are your healthiest, most nutritious food choices.
- Cook your food so it tastes good to you. Use spices, vinegars, mustards, broths, and herbs to add flavor without adding calories.
- Choose lean proteins that will be easy to chew, such as lean ground turkey, chicken, or beef. Add flavor and moisture by cooking it with vegetable, chicken, or beef broth (or bone broth for added protein).
These bariatric cookbooks are recommended as they’re loaded with easy and delicious recipes that can help you lose weight while eating meals you savor and enjoy:
The Easy 5-ingredient Bariatric Cookbook: 100 Postsurgery Recipes for Lifelong Health
By Megan Wolf
The Complete Bariatric Cookbook and Meal Plan: Recipes and Guidance for Life
By Megan Moore
Eating Well after Weight Loss Surgery: Over 150 Delicious Low-Fat High-Protein Recipes
By Patt Levine
The Gastric Sleeve Bariatric Cookbook: Easy meal Plans and Recipes to Eat Well & Keep The Weight Off
By Sarah Kent
Fresh Start Bariatric Cookbook: Healthy Recipes to Enjoy Favorite Foods After Weight-Loss Surgery
By Sarah Kent
It’s also important to fill your social feeds with family, friends, and experts whose posts and comments support your success instead of breeding temptation, anxiety, or negativity.
These Instagrammers provide valuable tips, visuals, inspiration, and recipes to help keep you motivated:
You CAN succeed at weight loss after bariatric surgery, and Virtua provides the right team and tools needed to help you jumpstart a healthy lifestyle and achieve lasting weight-loss success.
Learn more about Virtua’s bariatric weight-loss surgery program, or call 888-847-8823 to schedule a consultation with a Virtua bariatric surgeon.
Updated June 29, 2021