Pre-op Worries: Cooking for other people following bariatric surgery

I always really enjoyed cooking and baking and before my surgery baking, especially, was one of my biggest hobbies. When I decided to have my gastric bypass surgery I knew my relationship with food had to change and I wondered how much it was going to impact on my favourite hobby. Would I even still enjoy doing it if I couldn’t eat it afterwards?

The toughest time I had to get through around cooking and being restricted in what I could eat was the two weeks of my liquid diet before my surgery. I was having green, non starchy vegetables at dinner time but my husband needed a complete meal and I had to accommodate him too. At this point I struggled some days and, because I was feeling quite hungry most of the time, it was hard.

One way I reduced the amount I was having to cook was by making enough for my husband for two or three meals at a time and then I wasn’t having to cook every single day. We all know that reheated food generally doesn’t appear anywhere near as appealing as when it’s first cooked so the days I reheated stuff it didn’t worry me in the slightest.

Then there was the period immediately after surgery when I was on the liquid diet for three weeks and the stages immediately following that. The few weeks immediately following my gastric bypass were hard. Not because I was hungry and wanted to eat but because this was when the true seperation of myself from food happened. Emotionally it was one of the toughest times which is compounded by the fact that your body is still healing and you’re tired.

During this time I really struggled to cook and often made my husband do it himself if I really couldn’t face it. I did manage to bake my husband a birthday cake and cupcakes to take to work during this period and it didn’t upset or bother me as much as having to cook dinner. I think because cake and cupcakes were so firmly on my no list at that point is why it didn’t bother me in the slightest.

Coming up to and immediately after my surgery I was very focused on the different food stages I was going to have to go through. I was so invested in knowing as much as I could about them. This was really important at the time but looking back now these stages seemed to fly by and they really were a means to an end. They were the guide I had to help me find my new normal after my physiology had been modified in a very permanent way. My relationship to and with food and cooking was different at different stages of the process. Some days were hard and some days I didn’t even think about it.

Now that I’m more than two years out I have to say things have settled down really nicely. I’m happy to be able to say that I still really enjoy cooking and baking. I tend to cook more in a way that suits my dietary requirements now and if I can’t have the whole combination of what I’m making for everyone I make sure I can at least have some of the elements of what I’m making. I would like to think I cook in a healthier and more balanced way now.

I think baking was what I was most worried about not enjoying after my gastric bypass. I think I really underestimated how much I enjoy the creative side of baking, especially my cake decorating, and that actually, for me, eating it was a small part of the enjoyment I get out of baking. I like searching for recipes and ideas, getting the tools and ingredients that I need together and then watching my (sometimes overly ambitious) plans come to life. While I will still have a taste to make sure what I’ve produced doesn’t taste like dirt I don’t feel like I’m missing out majorly by not being able to stuff my face with it once I’ve finished.

I think initially it’s a really good idea to have some alternative plans for cooking if it’s one of your main responsibilities in your household. During the pre-op diet and for the first month or two after it just might be too much some days for you to make a meal for your family or household members if you’re having a rough day. I taught my husband a few basic meals before I had my surgery so he could fend for himself if he needed to. I usually have some dinner sized portions of things in the freezer that we could pull out if we needed to.

Being prepared for the fact you might not be feeling up to it somedays means that you can focus on yourself and not feel like you’re letting everyone else down. It’s really important to put yourself first and look after yourself so that you get the best chance for a great outcome after bariatric surgery.

Did you have a particular interest in or really enjoy cooking and baking before your surgery? Are you coming up to bariatric surgery and worrying that this might change your relationship with food and that you’re about to lose a hobby? Comment below and let me know I’d like to see you feel/felt about it and how you got through.

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There are 2 comments for this article
  1. Ange at 9:10 pm

    Thanks Melissa another enjoyable read. I had my surgery on Friday and everything is going well. I am finding sense of small is stronger. I have to admit my husband use to be a chef so he can easily take care of meals if I’m not up to it. I’m very lucky ?. I can’t wait for next 4-6wks to flyby but I do understand it’s a means to an end.

    • Melissa Peaks Author at 9:32 pm

      Hi Ange, I’m really pleased to hear you are doing well after your surgery! Now that you say it I remember my sense of smell was stronger too straight after surgery. Make the most of it lovely lady, you deserve a bit of a rest and it will do your recovery some good. I look back now at the stages I really didn’t enjoy and they seem so insignificant!

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