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.
If you've had weight loss surgery, you've probably heard loads of advice from people on what to do and what not to do. It can be overwhelming, right? But don't worry! We've got you covered with the top dos and don'ts to make sure your tool is effective and long-lasting. These tips are super helpful and easy to follow, so if you're going to listen to any advice, make sure it's this! Let’s jump in!
1) DON’T skip meals. One of the worst things you can do after WLS is skip meals. Given the tiny size of your new stomach, that space is so valuable. What you choose to consume, when you consume it, is so important each time. Not eating small and frequent meals can result in low energy, blood sugar drops, and not meeting your nutrition goals, affecting your nutrition and weight loss success.
DO eat small & frequent meals. To get adequate calories, protein, and overall nutrition throughout the day, you must practice structured and (optimally) scheduled meal patterns. Doing so will keep that weight loss going in the direction you need it – down! So plan, ensure you’re getting what you need daily, and don't skip your bariatric vitamins, which play a critical role in preventing deficiencies for life!
2) DON’T eat mindlessly. Mindless eating is another common habit that can lead to weight gain or lack of weight loss. When you eat mindlessly, you're not paying attention to what you eat or how much you eat. This can easily happen when you fall into old, poor habits like eating in front of the TV, while driving, or in social settings. Before you know it, you’re snacking on not-so-healthy choices, and we all know it all adds up if you’re unaware.
DO eat in areas without distraction. Have a plan for what you’re eating for the day, and plan where you will be eating it. This helps you to listen to your stomach with no distractions, helping you realize when you’re ready for the next bite or when you’re one bite away from being satisfied. This will also help to create a healthier relationship with your food.
3) DON’T put yourself last. Your body needs you to step up to the plate. That means not filling your day with obligations and things that are not really necessary. I’m guilty of it. I’ve put more on my plate in one given day to where I had zero energy to pour into my own cup — big mistake. Prioritize your self-care first, then fill in the gaps with high priorities only. The rest can wait. Ask for help and communicate your needs with others. YOU and your health are what is essential.
DO be a little selfish. I don’t mean that in a bratty sense. I mean, pay attention to yourself and practice self-care. Check-in with yourself regularly and ask how you’re feeling. Overworked? Tired? Peaceful? Balanced? What is it you need? Whatever it is, do it. And be unapologetic. You can’t be a help to others if you don’t help yourself first. Everyone else (including you) will get a better version of you.
4) DON’T skip out on exercise. Exercise is a non-negotiable after WLS. Your body needs you to do it. Your mind needs you to do it. Your success with WLS depends on it. Without it, overall your physical and mental health suffers. Exercise is a large part of what your body needs in order to lose and maintain your weight loss. Exercise helps to keep your heart strong, helps fight disease, and supports bone health. Moreover, it supports your WLS tool by helping to burn fat! I don’t know about you, but I don’t need any more reasons other than those.
DO exercise 150 minutes per week. Making time for exercise can be tough, but with just 150 minutes of cardio and two to three days of strength training exercises each week, you can make a big difference in your health. And don't worry, it's not as daunting as it seems! Whether you’re beginner or advanced, there’s something for everyone; in the pool or on land, at home or in the gym, solo or in a group. The options are endless! Find what excites and motivates you, start small, and work your way up to more challenging activities as you become stronger.
5) DON’T wing it. Healthy habits aren't made by just winging it. Winging it means you have left your day up to whatever gets thrown your way, and we all know how that works out. You end up hitting the snooze button, skipping meals, not being prepared for dinner (so you get takeout), not stopping by the gym on the way home, or not meeting your daily fluid goals. Whew! That’s a lot of “nots”. How do you feel about your progress at the end of the day when that happens? Not good.
DO be intentional. Set an intention each night for the next day; for meals, exercise, daily goals, meditation, and taking care of YOU first. And when the morning comes, stick to your intentions and plans. Keep the promises you make to yourself, and soon you’ll feel too motivated to do it any other way – because you’ll see and feel the results!
Overall, simply being mindful, intentional, and taking time to prioritize our own health is key. Don’t get too caught up in the whole “dos and don’ts”, but do understand the big picture. Small changes come with big rewards – when we take better care of ourselves, we create a ripple effect of positive energy in our lives. And lastly, don’t forget that you are worth the effort! Love your health enough to make the wise decisions about nutrition and exercise. Look after yourself, and you’ll be well on your way to happy, healthy living.
BariMelts provides general recommendations, not to be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor.