Dietitians with the Nutrition Services Department at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth provide a variety of nutrition counseling services to bariatric surgery patients.
Once it is determined that bariatric surgery is right for you, your physician may ask you to meet with one of our experienced registered dietitians. Your dietitian will provide you with healthy eating guidelines to follow post-surgery, assist in developing a customized meal plan and answer any questions you may have about the types of food you may eat after surgery.
Take the Technique with You Wherever You Go
When educating a patient for the first time, there is usually an unspoken sense of "Oh my goodness, is she serious thinking I'm going to remember ALL of this?!?!?" I can only imagine how overwhelmed patients feel when hearing the nutrition guidelines for the first, second, or third time. Understandably so, patients tend to feel anxious about having surgery, plus having to remember so much thereafter. But I've notice a constant among all of the food do's and don'ts — The Technique!
"The Technique" is essentially going back to basics — those nutrition guidelines I try to instill in patients from day one. When trying to remember the technique it is most important to understand WHY those specific guidelines are in place. Understanding the reason why will probably help you to remember — it does for me.
So, just EATAP:
- Eat your protein first at every meal. Why? It creates a "plug" at the base of your pouch (funnel), which will help you to feel full more quickly and will help your pouch to stay full longer between meals.
- Avoid liquids 30 minutes before, during and 30 minutes after every meal. Why? Eating and drinking together liquefies what's been eaten, causing the pouch to empty too quickly. When this happens, you are risk for feeling hunger too soon after your meal, and allows you to be able to eat more than you actually should. Liquids with meals can trigger vomiting, cause dumping syndrome and/or deny your body the chance to absorb vital nutrients from food.
- Take small bites and chew each bite 20 to 30 times. Why? Taking small bites will help you to keep track of how well it's chewed before it's swallowed. Chewing well is important to break each piece of food down as much as possible in your mouth, because your pouch cannot do the work for you. Chewing well will also prevent overeating and chest discomfort.
- Allow no more than 20-30 minutes at each meal. Why? It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to recognize your pouch is full. By eating slowly, it will help you to recognize the point of being done (BEFORE chest discomfort starts).
- Provide three solid meals and one or two high-protein snacks per day. Why? Eating only once or twice a day slows the metabolism down significantly. Also, by skipping meals you are more likely to over eat by eating too fast, taking big bites, or not chew your food well enough (which all lead to vomiting — yikes!)
You can rely on the technique, because it's constant — it doesn't change like our food choices do. Honestly? One of the best things you can do during the holidays, going to restaurants or celebrating special occasions is to remember the technique. AND you can take it with you wherever you go... to Wendy's, to the airport, to Grandma Rose's house. I want to reassure my patients that in any situation, in any place — the technique is in your noggin to help you. It's very user-friendly, and it will help see you through your lifelong weight loss journey.