Article By: Whittany Gibson, RDN
Whittany is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who specializes in bariatric nutrition counseling, providing education and support prior to and following weight loss surgery.
Are you ready to go home after weight loss surgery? Here are the top 10 items you need to make your return home a success! From comfortable clothes to essential kitchen supplies, this list has everything you need to get started in your new life.
1) A positive attitude about weight loss surgery. Weight loss surgery is no laughing matter — the whole process can be challenging! But keep the big picture in mind. Remember why you have chosen this route. Think about what amazing changes are coming your way and how much better you will feel! Stay focused on having a good mindset, and don’t be too strict or too hard on yourself. You are human. This is all new, and you’re relearning how to eat with your new stomach and lifestyle. Along with proper guidance and dietary considerations, the focus on long-term health results means that treating your body well can pay off in spades down the road. No matter the difficulties you may (or may not) face, it’s sure to yield positive outcomes for years to come!
2) Loose, comfortable clothing that won’t put pressure on your incisions. If you’ve undergone surgery, it’s time to loosen up your wardrobe! No more clingy fabrics and tight pants... After surgery, comfort is key. Make sure you keep your incisions happy by focusing on breathable, light fabrics and materials and giving them plenty of room to heal without being restricted or squashed. So whether you prefer dressing up in loungewear or rockin’ those PJs all day long, ensure your post-op wardrobe doesn’t fight against your body’s healing process.
3) Comfortable shoes for walking around. Finding shoes that support regular walking is a tall order. But don’t worry! There are some options out there. Spending a bit of money on comfortable shoes that provide the support you need can pay off in the long run. Not only will proper shoes support regular walks for managing weight loss, but they will also reduce pains and aches from walking too much with the wrong kind of support. It pays to invest wisely in footwear that looks nice and feels right.
4) Your surgery and nutrition information. You’ll likely have countless questions following surgery, and it will be vital to have the resources provided by your program near you at all times for quick reference. You should have at least two things: surgery information for post-op recovery and nutrition information for your post-op diet phases and beyond. It’s best to review all of this information before surgery, so you don’t have to spend too much time digging around for what you need when you need it. Even better, make an organized binder containing all the materials you receive from your program or things that you pick up along the way that can be of help to you.
5) Medications prescribed by your doctor after weight loss surgery. After weight loss surgery, your doctor should take a comprehensive approach and ensure you’re appropriately prescribed for the journey ahead. Pain-relieving medications to heal properly from the physical strain of the operation? Check. Anti-nausea medicine for those days when your stomach is not ready for what you try to feed it? Got it! And, of course, don’t forget the all-important acid blockers to help keep acid production at bay during your recovery. Discuss individual needs with your prescriber and surgeon.
6) A food scale. If you haven’t used a food scale before, now is the time to start. Do you have to use it all the time? Nope! But it sure is nice to have when planning at least your protein intake. Once you visually educate yourself on what 3oz of chicken looks like (or whatever protein you choose), you’ll eventually become comfortable “eyeballing” quantities instead of constantly relying on a food scale.
7) Meal prep containers. This is a big one! Using pre-portioned containers can be a lifesaver for you busy folks. Having 4oz and 8oz containers can help you limit your meal sizes at any time. Bowls and plates you know will not exceed these amounts will take the guesswork out of whether you are staying within recommended serving sizes. Just know what serving sizes are appropriate for your current post-op diet phase.
8) A designated water bottle. Staying hydrated during the day is almost an art form after WLS — and it isn’t a mastery we can achieve overnight. Remembering to sip throughout the day and keep fluid intake separate from meal times can seem like a full-time job. Thankfully, for those who struggle to remember to down enough ounces, a trusty water bottle is there to save the day! A bottle that accompanies you throughout your daily errands (or even gym adventures) is essential in reminding you to take sips here and there. Dehydration is a genuine concern after weight loss surgery; if you’re not on top of your fluid intake, you can quickly fall behind on your goals. Set alarms as reminders and remember that sugar-free or very low sugar clear liquids can count toward your hydration goals. Aim for 64oz clear fluids daily.
9) A reflection journal and logging tool. Cheesy? Absolutely not. Patients that journal their progress and emotions do incredibly well after surgery. They reflect on their days, weeks, or entire journey and can grow from this. It’s proven that awareness is critical to change, and you have to be upfront and honest with yourself through this entire process. Address triggers. Journal your struggles and difficulties. And celebrate your wins and accomplishments, no matter how small. In addition to journaling, tracking calories and exercise is another highly recommended practice to stay true to the course and achieve ultimate success.
10) A sound support system and dependable resources. I can’t say enough about having a strong support network during the entire WLS process, both before and after. Watching videos of others who have been through surgery can be so motivating. Listen to podcasts, speak with your dietitian regularly, and discuss your needs and goals with family and friends. And use social media for motivation, not for meaningless scrolling. Lastly, find your tribe. These people are the ones that will accept your desire to change and support you no matter what.
An understanding of what tools you should have at your fingertips after surgery is invaluable. All of these suggestions come from people who have experienced WLS firsthand, so you can trust these are tried and true. These items will ensure you’re off to a great start to feeling confident and ready for your own surgery experience!
BariMelts provides general recommendations, not to be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor.