Planning for Success: Eating Pre- and Post-Op

Laying out a plan of attack for eating before and after surgery.

Laying out a plan of attack for eating before and after surgery.

If you know me, then you know that I am a planner.  Always have been, always will be.  When the thing I have to tackle is a major life event, planning is critical to the success of the event.  I look at my upcoming surgery as something that needed to be planned from the get-go.  From the initial surgical consult down to my pre-op testing (starts this week, yay!), everything about this has been carefully planned and orchestrated.  The eating I’ll be doing for the rest of my life is not excluded from this planning.

A few weeks ago before I had my second surgeon’s appointment, I visited with the dietician he recommended I see.  There was no question in my mind that I would make a visit to a dietician, because I wanted to learn as much as I possibly could about how my eating habits were going to change after surgery.  While reading online at the OH VSG forum has been helpful, every person’s surgeon has a different plan for their patients.  Some of them are designed such that the patient can eat crackers and rice (!!!!) immediately post-surgery–something my surgeon explictly explained was a no-no.  And then some programs allow only high-protein drinks, shakes and snacks immediately post-surgery (my surgeon’s plan is more like this).   I didn’t want to be left to my own devices to figure out what I was supposed to eat or not eat, so I wanted to have a plan of my own in hand before go time on July 8th.

After meeting with her and getting a post-op eating plan (and a ton of samples, hooray!), I sat down with her plan and my surgeon’s plan and did a side-by-side comparison.  The two plans have a bit of disparity, as his plan has me eating more protein (which I want to be sure to do) and fewer carbs while hers has me introducing carbs as early on as the first week.   In fact, she said “you can have mashed potatoes as long as they can pass through a strainer.”  I was a bit shocked at this, since potatoes are one of the starchiest things you can eat.  Not too much protein there!  I mean, I know I can add protein powder to things, but potatoes?  Really?

I want to take full advantage of this six month weight loss “honeymoon” that everyone talks about–the first six months are the ones in which the most weight tends to be lost post-VSG–and I don’t think that consumption of too many carbs will help me in that effort.  While I know that carbs are a necessary part of my diet no matter what stage I’m at, it’s important to remember that the carbs I want to consume (veggies like broccoli, zucchini, cabbage, Brussels Sprouts, artichokes, etc) are things I won’t be able to eat immediately following surgery.

I laid out the two plans next to one another and picked and chose the best aspects of each.  I used his plan in terms of nutrition (high protein, low carbs) and hers in terms of food quantity and texture (increased texture as you move further away from surgery).  I printed off blank calendars for the next 4 months and labeled each week with how I planned to eat and what was okay to eat during that time.  The plan is to put them on the fridge so that both my husband and I know what I am able to consume.  I have put myself on liquids a little longer than my dietician has recommended because I have a feeling that I will be having a hiatal hernia repaired during surgery, and I want as much time as possible to heal and to allow my stomach to work as little as possible digesting foods at that time.

I’ve got myself moving to soft foods by one month post-op, which is good, since I’ll be going to a wedding out of town in August.  By the time school begins near the end of August, I’ll be back on soft solid foods, so things like flaky white fish, turkey, dark meat chicken and pork.  I’m seriously considering eschewing beef for a while, because unless it is grass-fed organic beef, it really doesn’t sit well in my stomach now as it is.

I decided that this week, I’d replace one of my meals with a protein shake to help me ease into the transition of my assigned pre-op diet of 3-5  shakes (3 as a meal, 2 as a snack) and 1 meal.  You see, I’ve never been one to drink my meals in any shape or form, so moving to a diet that is exclusively liquids has to be done in stages for me or the shock of it will set me up for failure and discouragement.  I figure by the time I’m post-op I’ll be a pro at drinking my food so hopefully post-op won’t be too bad.  We’ll see how this all goes.

I also need to plan a typical day to see when I’ll be taking vitamins, calcium supplements and drinking my meals.  My dietician did tell me something that’s stuck with me:  “For the first few weeks after your surgery, drinking is going to be your job, because you don’t want to get dehydrated.”  I definitely know the dangers of dehydration having been dehydrated before…keeping hydrated is serious business.  I keep seeing others post about schedules they keep for their supplements and drinking, so I want to make my own as well.  Additionally, I’ll have to make one for when school starts back up.  I may just make one that fits into a typical school day so that the transition is not so tough.

I realize that now I’m planning all this stuff, and things could end up very differently.  I just really hope that by starting out a little sooner than I’m supposed to helps me more than it hurts me, and that I lose more weight than my surgeon is expecting me to (he wants at least 5% gone by surgery day).  I want to make his job as easy as I can, so anything I can do to make the surgery go smoothly for both of us is a step in the right direction.

4 responses to “Planning for Success: Eating Pre- and Post-Op

  1. Just a word from your friendly friend…pork is still iffy for me…I’m not sure why…but it just is. It’s iffy for a lot of folks with re-routed guts…so there’s that. Beef, too…but as long as you stick with tender cuts, you might not have a problem (I don’t…much). Protein drinks…some are good…some are horrid. I stay away from the fruity ones, because they all taste fakey, to me…if I want fruit, I add frozen fruit and whiz it up. I love my Magic Bullet blender…it’s one of the best investments I made…hand to God!

  2. I figured I’d introduce meats one at a time to see what I can tolerate. Thankfully my surgery doesn’t re-route my gut in any way, just makes my stomach smaller. But there are still some food intolerances that can come with the VSG, so my surgeon says. I’m not such a fan of fake fruity drinks or sweet things, but I also can’t have any fruits at first either. I’ll probably be drinking a lot of chicken broth and tea with added protein powder, which is just fine by me.

  3. All the best for your surgery. And I am sure you will be eating right and achieve your goals.

  4. Thanks Angie. I appreciate the well-wishes and support. 🙂

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