My 10 Post-op Golden Rules

Literally everything in my life in regards to food has changed post gastric bypass surgery. There are things I have had to give up and will never eat again and obviously because I have a markedly smaller stomach than before, I have much smaller portions. There are some other new habits I have had to adopt to make sure my gastric bypass is successful and to make sure I take care of my new physiology.

  1. Take small bites

I have a tiny tummy now and sitting just above it is a siliastic ring. The purpose of the ring is to make it much, much harder to stretch the stomach back out post surgery. This is one of the reasons why I now have to have small bites of things. If I eat to fast things get a bit ugly and I am in pain for a while until things pass. I make this easier for myself by using smaller cutlery.

  1. Chew, chew, chew

The vast majority of my stomach has been taken out of action and I have been left with a very small pouch. As well as that the main acid producing part of my stomach has been taken out of action. This means I need to chew every mouthful about 30 times (or as I affectionately call it ‘to death’) before swallowing to make sure my system can break it down and process it properly. The chewing lots goes hand in hand with the small bites really and helps to stretch out time between mouthfuls.

  1. Have a break from fluids before and after eating

I can’t have fluids for 30 minutes before and after eating. The main point of this is that I have such little volume in my stomach now that if it was half full with water at meal times I would never get all of my protein in. There is a bit more to this though and I will be writing a whole post specifically relating to it soon. This is the one rule that took me ages to adjust to and that still frustrates me from time to time.

  1. Don’t take more than 30 minutes per meal

My capacity restriction is only helpful to a point. If I was to graze over a meal say for an hour or so I could technically get twice as much in. You also tend to eat much more when you eat in a relaxed fashion over a longer period of time. So as an occasional one off it’s ok but it not an appropriate eating style long term and too often. Also if I was to take forever to eat I would seriously cut into the already limited time I have for fluids .

  1. No snacks allowed

I specifically have three meals a day. I can comfortably get my protein in in those three meals so there is no need for me to snack. Also snack time tends to be the easiest time to make poor food decisions and it can be a bit of a slippery slope and create new habits that can be hard to break. Also if you were snacking a couple of times a day that again would cut too much into fluid times and would make that challenging.

  1. Vitamins EVERY day

Malabsorption can be a big issue post bariatric surgery depending on what procedure you have and for gastric bypass patients it is a daily concern. I have vitamins morning and night and have to keep this up for the rest of my life. Because of the physiological changes and the impact that has on malapsorption I need to take 200 percent of my daily vitamin needs and all kidding aside if I didn’t I would die. This can be looked at one of the downsides to a gastric bypass in particular.

  1. Stop eating as soon as you feel full

Having such a small tummy there is a very fine line (literally a teaspoon or two) between I feel okay and I’m full. What I saw as a benefit prior to having surgery is if you eat too much after surgery you will throw up. It’s a good physiological limit that I now can’t ignore. I have always been really careful and haven’t pushed myself in this respect because especially initially I was really scared of rupturing the newly sealed lines.

  1. Say Yeah, Nah to straws

When you use a straw you tend to take in lots more air that drinking normally out of a cup so it’s not recommended. I stuck to this religously after surgery for about the first year and gave myself a huge fright the first time after surgery when I realised I was inadvertently using one. I will occassionally use one now but it usually just leads to lots of little burps so it’s not much fun I have to say.

  1. Focus your eating on protein

I know I have gone on about this quite a bit on here but protein is really important to focus on food wise for post gastric bypass patients. The first thing I work out about any meal is the protein portion of it and then let the rest come together around that. The goal of 60-80 grams of protein a day is not set for fun or to torture us it’s to make sure we stay healthy and feel good.

  1. Limit alcohol

For the first year after surgery there is a very strict rule not to drink any alcohol for a multitude of reasons. One of the most important is that it’s filled with empty calories and has absolutely no nutritional value. It is also quite common for women, in particular, to develop alcoholism after surgery so that is something to be aware of. Even after the first year it is important to always be mindful of your behaviour around alcohol but I will save that for another post!

I’m really interested in your reaction to these rules that I have made the commitment to live by for the rest of my life. I am a person who thrives on structure and direction and one of the big advantages I saw for myself prior to surgery were these rules and how that would positively impact on my ability to maintain my weight. I’m so used to all of these now that they are automatic for me and just a part of my everyday life. If you’re considering or have had a gastric bypass which ones stick out as the ones you think will be hardest to live with? Let me know in the comments below.

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There are 7 comments for this article
  1. Pauline at 2:21 pm

    Having had a lapband in the past, I would say I am familiar with nearly every single one of these, very familiar!

    With the band gone… i can honestly say, I really miss all the restrictions…! Once you get used to them they work well. I was never hungry, I never had cravings for sweet things, I changed completely from quantity to quality! If I was going to have something, it HAD to be yummy and Pretty! I got right into cooking, and the joy of sharing it with others.

    The amount of food that I can get in without the band, at the moment is crazy… and I am constantly hungry. Obviously will power has to play its part, but I don’t think I have ever felt ‘full’ since the band came out.
    So.. bring it on I say! I cant wait.

    The ‘new’ bits for me will be the daily vitamins, which doesn’t phase me too much, I take them every day anyway, so that shouldnt be too much of a change…
    I think the one that will be hardest for me is number 10! Im quite a social person, and I REALLY enjoy a couple of glasses of wine with my friends, as a fairly regular occurrence!

    I have also read that with the bypass the alcohol is absorbed a lot quicker into the bloodstream, so the effects of alcohol that used to take 3 or 4 glasses, is likely to happen after 1 glass. (This is not the reason I like to have a drink by the way, so Im not saying that like its a woohoo!)

    Im sure I will survive socialising without alcohol! But from my own unique perspective, knowing what to expect from changing how and when I eat, I think it will be the biggest adjustment. I was never advised off alcohol with the band, so this is a new one for me.

  2. Donna Drummond at 10:41 am

    I have a question re straws. I have read everywhere that they are a no-no. What about sipper bottles that have a “drinking spout” then. I have several water bottles that have straws but I could remove them.

    I find them easier to drink from as opposed to a glass. I know that sounds silly but I tend to get water down my throat far more easily. May just be a case of mind over matter.

    • Melissa Peaks Author at 11:21 am

      I avoid drink bottles with straws as well. It can make it quite difficult to find a drink bottle that’s suitable and you like to be honest. The reason why they are a bit of a no-no is that you swallow more air when you use a straw and it ends up in your tummy impacting on how much fluid you can get in there. It tens to make you burp more too because your tummy can’t handle big amounts of air in it. It is mind over matter and I’m sure if you make an effort to get used to not using them it won’t take you too long. I do use them occasionally but tend to avoid them where possible.

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