Gastric sleeve surgery reduces the amount of space that the body has to store food as well as the size of the food that can go into the body. The surgery is irreversible and will provide lifelong support for keeping weight down. A sleeve-shaped stomach is created in the body reducing the amount of food that can be held from approximately 60 ounces to approximately 4 ounces.
While gastric sleeve surgery can help dramatically reduce the weight carried by an obese individual, there are some things that need to be done in advance for the very best results. Sticking to a pre-op diet before the surgery will help to minimize the risk of complications during and immediately following the procedure.
Two Weeks Prior to Surgery
During the first two weeks before the surgery, it is recommended that the patient switch over to a liquid and soft food diet. This diet should be progressive in nature and will decrease the size of the stomach as well as the connected digestive organs. This will make it easier for the surgeon once they are performing the surgery. While you want to take on a liquid and soft food diet, it is vital that you provide enough nutrients to your body to be healthy.
Nutritious Foods for Liquid/Soft Food Diet
Some of the foods that might be beneficial during the soft food and liquid diet prior to your surgery could include protein drinks, protein supplement mixes, cottage cheese, tofu, low-fat dairy products, Greek yogurt, soups of all types, shakes, and low sugar juices, and water. It is recommended that you have a general diet of two liquid protein meals and a soup meal while staying clear of soups heavy in cream.
Just Prior to Surgery
During the days just before the surgery, all patients should switch to a clear liquid-only diet. This includes broths, water, and other similar non-sugary liquids that are easily digested. The body will be using what it can from these nutrients and will be ready for the surgery at this time.
Staying Healthy on the Pre-Op Diet
It can be challenging to stay healthy on the pre-op diet plan, but it is important that you give your body only the healthiest of foods. The liquid only diet should consist of 800 to 1,000 calories daily. This might seem challenging but can happen very easily. In fact, some patients will go over this amount and then suffer symptoms such as mood swings, headaches, and other difficulties. Caffeine should be avoided as much as possible during this time.
One to Two Weeks Before Surgery
- Breakfast – High Protein Drinks
- Lunch – High Protein Drinks
- Dinner – Salad with some form of protein
- Snacks – Metamucil or protein drink
Three Days Prior to Surgery
Time of meal is irrelevant in this stage and items such as Jell-O, broth, Slim-Fast, Atkins Low carb shakes, protein powder, popsicles, water, caffeine-free tea, sugar-free juice, sports drinks and the like are acceptable. You will need to stop eating or drinking by midnight the night before the surgery.
Avoiding dehydration is an essential part of making sure that you are healthy for the surgery. You will want to be sure that you are getting enough liquid into your body. The 48-64 ounces of water or another low calorie, caffeine-free, sugar-free, and non-carbonated liquid would do to help you get the best condition for your body before the surgery.
There are some liquids that should be avoided such as high sugar liquids, fruit juices, some sports drinks, alcoholic beverages, whole or 2% milk, soda, coffee, and caffeinated tea.
There are some ways that you can make this new diet acceptable and easier during a couple of weeks prior to your surgery.
- Use non-fat plain yogurt when you mix a healthy protein shake. This will make it taste great, be smooth and filling and provide you with an extra protein punch.
- Skim milk ice cubes make a great way to turn your protein shake into a slushy that is fun and refreshing.
- Substituting with soy milk or fat-free Lactaid milk can help when drinking your shakes.
- Adding a teaspoon of instant coffee (make sure it is decaffeinated) can change your basic protein shake into a latte.
- Sipping hot broths from a travel mug can help you get the nutrition you need on the go and make you feel like you aren’t missing out.
- Treat your food like a meal. Sitting down to eat, even if it is a small salad or soup is a good way to stretch out the meal and make you feel as though you are truly eating courses.
- Make sure you are getting enough protein to make you feel fuller and to help the body to be strong enough for the surgery.
- Mix your protein shake with fresh or frozen berries (no sweetener) to give you a fresh and fun taste.
- Freeze the fruit protein shakes so that you have a smooth popsicle to eat as a snack.
Try to approach the pre-op diet as a means to an end and a chance to discover new information about the way your food changes your body. Try to come up with new ways to make soups that are both great-tasting and nutritious. There are many vegetables that can provide you with an amazing tasting soup for whichever season fits and will still give you all you need for your pre-op diet.
In addition to making dietary changes just a couple of weeks before the surgery, it can be beneficial for you to start understanding what will be necessary for you to accomplish going forward after the surgery. Familiarizing yourself with the changes you will need to make for your future can help you to better understand what you will need to do to be successful.
Gastric sleeve surgery is not something that is decided overnight and you will have plenty of warning before you have your surgery. This gives you time to start working on what you are eating so that making the change won’t be so difficult. Start to change your dietary habits well before the surgery. Switch to high protein foods and reduce the amount of sugar that you take in. Avoid carbonation, caffeine, and carbohydrates as much as possible to prepare yourself for your new lifestyle of eating after the surgery. You can meet with a nutritionist to discuss what you will be able to eat after the surgery and consider starting to gradually phase into these things early on.
Meeting with a nutritionist or dietician can also help you to outline some meal options and learn how to select the best foods for your changed body. There is no real reason that you can start to switch over to this healthier style of eating before the surgery. In fact, the healthier you can make your body before the surgery the better the results and the easier the recovery will be for you. In addition, starting to eat as you will after the surgery early on will make it easier for you to pick up with this style of eating after the procedure is complete. It won’t be such a shock to your way of thinking or to your body.