You may have seen my first post about reading food…
Optifast is a very necessary evil of having any kind of bariatric surgery in New Zealand. Before my gastric bypass I had to go on the Optifast shake diet for 2 weeks to shrink my liver and get my body ready for surgery. The length of time you have to do Optifast beforehand depends on the surgeon, type of surgery and your pre surgery weight but one thing is for sure you will have to do a stint on it beforehand.
As well as that, for the first few weeks while I was on a fluid diet I was having three to four Optifast a day. The shakes are nutritionally complete so that is why they are the preferred option by the health professionals when you are surviving on them. I had them right up until about six months after my surgery, although only one a day just to ensure I was meeting my protein goal each day. Most people have a love/hate relationship with Optifast and by the time all the necessary bits are over can’t wait to ditch them.
There were a few things I figured out to make Optifast slightly more palatable and I thought I would share them here for anyone who is coming up to their stint on Optifast. I also asked for suggestions in one of the private surgery groups that I’m in on Facebook so thanks to you awesome people who helped me and contributed ideas for this post, you know who you are!
- Blend it with ice or make it with the coldest water you can.
This is a very popular way to make it slightly less ick tasting. I used to add seven ice cubes (no more and no less) an optifast sachet and then enough water to cover this in a small plastic jug and then whizz it with my stick blender. With the coffee flavour Optifast I could almost kid myself that I was drinking a frappuchino, almost.
- Adding decaf coffee to enhance the flavour.
I could barely get the vanilla flavour down prior to surgery and did not even go there after my surgery. This was one of the suggestions from my awesome friends but it was suggested a few times and if I had of known this then I would definitely have tried it. I think it would also be nice in the chocolate flavour to turn it into a mocha of sorts.
- Add a sugar-free flavouring of some sort.
Adding a bit of caramel essence to the coffee or vanilla flavour or a bit of raspberry essence to the vanilla one can give them a bit of a lift and help to mask the flavour a bit. This was another suggestion I haven’t tried myself but again it was suggested a few times so why not give it a go. Another way to flavour them without adding a heap of sugar is by using the Fresh As flavour powders that you can get from shops like Farro. The passionfruit one in the vanilla flavour is amazing apparently. The Torani sugar-free flavouring syrups are also another great way to flavour them without adding any unnecessary sugar.
- Cocoa powder and Cinnamon.
Both of these are low-calorie ways to give certain flavours a bit of a lift. I tried cinnamon in the vanilla one myself but it didn’t do enough for me to make it nicer. You could also put a little bit of artificial sweetener in as well as the cocoa or cinnamon if it helps too.
The importance of the Optifast part of the process especially in the lead up and initially after cannot be understated. I could tolerate the chocolate one the whole way through but only ever had the vanilla one beforehand. I tried a few of the other flavours but my favourite was definitely the coffee flavour. I didn’t go nuts with the coffee flavour one though and would only have one of that flavour a day because it does have about as much caffeine in it as a normal cup of coffee. I’m working on a post now about caffeine after bypass so keep an eye out for that where I will explain it further.
Did you struggle with the delightful flavours of Optifast? Let me know in the comments below if you had any brilliant ways of making it slightly more palatable I’d love to know if there’s anything you do that I haven’t suggested here.