Changing Your Diet Before Bariatric Surgery

Did you know that March is National Nutrition Month? National Nutrition Month is a campaign started by the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics (formerly American Dietetic Association) in 1973 to promote awareness of nutrition. The goal of National Nutrition Month is to provide the public with information regarding making well-informed food choices and promoting healthy eating habits and physical activity.  Themes for National Nutrition Month have changed over the past 33 years, but the focus—balancing healthy eating and physical activity to promote a healthy lifestyle—remains constant.

When working to make healthier food choices, it is often helpful to make changes gradually rather than trying to change a lifetime of habits all at once. Small changes are less overwhelming and often easier to maintain than large changes. Plus, multiple small changes gradually add up to become large changes. And these are maintainable changes.

Bariatric surgery is another tool to help you reach your health goals. Like any tool, you must utilize it appropriately to see the best results. Preparation for bariatric surgery also requires that you put your best fork forward. Work to implement one or two small changes to your diet and lifestyle at a time. As you achieve one change, begin working to incorporate another change to improve your lifestyle. By doing this, you are gradually changing your habits and lifestyle and preparing yourself for life after surgery. People who begin making these changes before their surgery tend to have an easier transition to life after surgery and tend to maintain their weight loss better than those who wait until surgery to make lifestyle changes.

If you are considering bariatric surgery, begin working to make diet and lifestyle changes now! These changes are also good ideas for those not considering bariatric surgery. Some changes to consider are increasing your fluid intakes, decreasing/avoiding caffeine, decreasing/avoiding carbonation, avoid skipping meals, stop grazing between meals, avoid drinking liquids with meals, decrease your frequency of eating out, and include protein foods with your meals and snacks. The question now becomes, how do I do this practically? Here are a few suggestions:

  • To decrease caffeine intake, try half-regular, half-decaffeinated coffee, then gradually work your way to all decaffeinated beverages.
  • Measure your fluid intake. If you aren’t consuming 80 oz. of sugar-free, decaffeinated fluids daily, increase by 8 oz. (1 cup) each week until you reach 80 oz. daily.
  • To decrease intake of carbonated beverages, decrease by 8 oz. (1 cup) a week until you work carbonation out of your diet.
  • Eat 3-5 small meals daily, including protein with each.

If you have already had bariatric surgery, make sure you continue to put your best fork forward each day in effort to make the most of both your surgery and your lifestyle changes to achieve maximum results! If you feel you haven’t been putting your best fork forward, it is not too late to start. Begin making small changes to improve your diet today! If you need help making these changes, please schedule a dietitian appointment to discuss how you can put your best fork forward!

Brittonni Perry, RDN, LD, is a bariatric nutrition specialist with Prisma Health Bariatric Solutions. 


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