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The pre-op surgical diet that we have to do before bariatric surgery is, I think, one of the most unifying things in the bariatric surgery process. No matter what surgery you are having gastric bypass, gastric sleeve or duoduenal switch you have to do the pre-op diet. In New Zealand the typical pre-op diet is Optifast shakes and as many green, non starchy vegetables as you like.
I had to do the pre-op diet for two weeks which seems to be the minimum but I have heard of some people having to do it for longer. A couple of people I know have had to do it two or three times over because of their surgery date getting moved for whatever reason. Basically whatever happens you need to do the pre-op diet for a couple of weeks before your surgery date.
The main reason it has to be done is to help shrink your liver for surgery. By putting you on this diet the surgical team are trying to get as much fat as possible out of your liver because they have to move it during surgery and the smaller it is the less risk there is involved in moving it. Having a strictly calorie controlled, high in protein and low in fat and sugar diet does this very well and makes surgery safer.
For me the pre-op diet was the absolute hardest bit of this whole process. I was still hungry and honestly could have eaten my own arm off after a few days on the diet. It made me tired, cranky and I was hungry, so freaking hungry. There were two things that kept me on track with the diet my absolute desperation to have the surgery and the support of my husband.
I knew that if I strayed from the diet and didn’t shrink my liver enough there was a possibility that they could get in to do the surgery and not do it if my liver had not shrunk enough. I would not allow myself to get that close to having the surgery only for it to be taken away at the last hurdle. The rate I was losing weight on the pre-op diet was also quite motivating, when I could forget how hungry I was.
Day 11 of my 14 day pre-op diet is a day I will never forget. I lost the plot. Completely. I had a tantrum of epic proportions and if it wasn’t for my husband stopping me I would have gone and got something I shouldn’t have had and eaten it. For some reason I was particularly fixated on Doritos. It doesn’t make any sense because I usually didn’t like them that much.
My top five tips for getting through the pre-op diet without falling off the wagon are:
- Keep your eye on the prize. You have come so far you cannot let it slip from your reach now.
- Have an ultimate cheerleader on your side. You need someone who is going to keep your best interests in mind and not give in to you because you are having a tantrum.
- Count the days down. It’s an oldie but a goodie.
- Tell yourself you can do this and believe yourself when you say this. I know you can do it, I did so I absolutely know you can. The things you say to yourself and believe are going to by and large dictate your outcome so be your own biggest cheerleader.
- Get rid of anything you have a particular weakness for. Out of sight, out of mind. If you can’t easily get to something you really want it’s going to be so much harder for you to mess this up. Other people in the house may have to live without it for a couple of weeks but they will get over it.
If you’re struggling with Optifast I have a post about how to make it more palatable. The pre-op diet is a very crucial part of the process. You need to follow the guidelines from your surgical team to get your body as ready and primed for surgery as possible. How long did you have to do the pre-op diet for? Do you agree it with me that it was the worst part of the process or did you get through it okay? Comment below I’d love to know how you found it.