Your long-term success after weight loss surgery requires a commitment to proper eating habits, taking vitamins and mineral supplements, and monitoring nutrient levels in your blood for the rest of your life. Your nutritional team can help you understand what you need to change and can help you through this process.
Before Weight Loss Surgery
Your First Nutritional Assessment
You'll be asked to complete a nutrition survey and food diary before you attend your first appointment. This allows us to tailor our discussion to your nutritional needs and challenges. We also give you an overview of nutritional expectations for the whole process, including before and after surgery, so you know what to expect. If we think you will benefit from a one-on-one session, we schedule it for four to six weeks after your initial appointment. You can also request a four to six-week follow-up appointment with the dietitian if you would like additional help with preparing nutritionally for weight loss surgery.
Before Surgery Is Scheduled
You will need to adopt new eating habits -- including the ability to follow a structured, scheduled plan -- before surgery is scheduled. We’ll cover these steps and more in the first assessment and the weeks leading up to your surgery.
Changing Your Eating Habits
Since your eating patterns may need to undergo substantial changes after surgery, we want you to start practicing now for the way you will eat after surgery. A structured, scheduled meal plan means you no longer skip meals. It also involves eating smaller, more frequent meals (every three-to-four hours) as well as chewing food well and slowly. You will be encouraged to keep a food journal and use a tracking mechanism (such as an app on your smartphone) to record what and how much you eat, the beverages you drink, and the physical activity in which you engage. This information must be submitted to us in a timely manner before surgery is scheduled, as it is part of your medical review and may be required by your insurance company.
Eliminating Alcoholic Beverages
Alcohol consumption is not recommended for at least one year following surgery. You may need to start reducing your alcohol consumption in preparation for surgery.
Getting a Grip on Social, Emotional Eating
There are many psychological, social, and emotional challenges that are closely intertwined with eating. Our behavioral health experts address these issues with you and give you the tools to help you adopt positive changes.
Eating Right Before Surgery
You will be required to follow a liver-shrinking diet for one to two weeks before your surgery date. This will make your liver smaller and keep it out of the way, which allows for safer surgery.
Attend your pre-surgical evaluation, doctor appointments, and monthly support meetings near where you work or live. Attend a free information session online to learn more about obesity and weight loss surgery.
Eating After Weight Loss Surgery
First Weeks Following Surgery
You will follow a modified full-liquid diet in the first two to three weeks following surgery. After your first post-surgical visit, you will advance to soft-solid food. You will be on soft-solid foods for three months.
You will be able to eat harder-to-digest foods -- such as nuts, dried fruit, and asparagus -- starting at three months post-surgery. The volume of food you eat will gradually increase at each stage of your diet progression.
Foods that Aren’t Tolerated After Surgery
Eating sugary, starchy foods can lead to dumping syndrome following gastric bypass surgery. Likewise, you may have to avoid eating high-fat foods as well as hard-to-digest foods like dry chicken breast, broccoli stalks, cauliflower, and mushrooms. Lactose intolerance can also become an issue for some people following specific weight loss surgeries. We will discuss with you which foods should be avoided for each surgery, and why.
View our calendar of monthly support groups. They give you the opportunity to learn new coping mechanisms and meet with people going through similar experiences.
Many weight loss procedures affect how your body absorbs vitamins and minerals. Lifelong nutritional supplements are necessary to ensure you don’t experience any issues with malnutrition. The exact combination of nutritional supplementation you need depends on the surgery you undergo. We don’t require you to use a particular brand of nutritional supplements or shakes. We give you choices so you can find the ones that work for your budget and your tolerance.
Follow-Up Nutritional Visits and Monthly Support Groups
You'll see a dietitian several times in the months following your surgery, at your one-year follow-up, and annually for the rest of your life (as part of your regular checkup). However, we are also available to help you face challenges such as cravings that return, or if you find yourself slipping back into old eating habits. We encourage you to attend our monthly groups, where we discuss healthy recipes and how to handle difficult situations such as holidays and everyday stress. We are here to help you be successful.
Duke Regional Hospital is accredited by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery for its high standards of care in weight loss surgery.