Bariatric surgery acts as a very helpful tool to help you along your weight loss journey.
The first 12 months after surgery is when you typically see the best results. However, maintaining long term weight loss requires more effort than relying on surgery alone. It also requires positive lifestyle changes to your diet, eating behaviours and exercise.
Continue reading to discover some helpful tips, tools and strategies to help you get back on track after weight loss surgery.
Why do Patients Gain Weight after Bariatric Surgery?
Weight gain after bariatric surgery may happen for a few different reasons.
- Food quality. Consuming energy-dense foods such as processed foods, fried foods, or foods high in fat, sugar and carbohydrates can result in weight gain.
- Liquid choices. Alcohol, fruit juices, energy drinks and soft drinks are very high in calories and are rapidly absorbed by the body. This prevents you from feeling satiated, thus making it easy to have large quantities.
- Irregular meal patterns. Grazing refers to snacking on small portions of food over an extended period of time, which makes it hard to keep track of how much you actually eat. It also prevents you from being in touch with your hunger and fullness cues.
- Physical inactivity. Being physically active helps prevent weight regain as the body burns more fuel and uses more energy.
- Stretching of the new stomach. The stomach is an organ that can stretch overtime if you are consistently eating or drinking beyond feeling ‘satisfied’. Once your new pouch stretches, you require more food to feel satisfied at mealtimes.
- Resuming unhealthy habits e.g., emotional or stress eating
Other environmental reasons may include lack of access to healthy food options at home or at work, lack of support from your health professional team and lack of education about maintaining weight loss after the first year.
Post Bariatric Surgery: Tips to Get Back on Track
- Re-define your short-term and long-term goals.
- Identify your strengths and challenges. For example, what do you believe to be the main reason for your weight regain? What are some of your strengths that will help you on this journey?
- Connect with your health professional team to help you get back on track. This could be your GP, dietitian, psychologist and/or exercise physiologist.
- Getting your nutrition and eating habits right. Here are some tips on how to do so:
Eat slowly and mindfully.
- Try using small cutlery and small plates/bowls to eat your meals from.
- Chew until the food is of a pureed consistency in your mouth, before swallowing.
- Avoid multitasking at mealtimes. Set aside 20-30 minutes to have your main meals.
- Focus on each mouthful. Focus on the aroma, taste, texture, and appearance.
Prioritise protein and vegetables / salads at main meals.
- Protein and fibre help you feel fuller for longer; thus, you eat less at mealtimes.
Avoid grazing and aim for regular meals and snacks throughout the day.
- Aim for at least 3 main meals per day, with 2-3 snacks depending on your appetite and energy requirements.
- Choose calorie-free fluids, and keep your liquid calories to a minimum.
- Find a movement that works for you. This may be walking, swimming, joining a local gym or doing some strength training in the comfort of your own home.
Stay organised and meal prep where required.
- Try to plan your meals ahead of time, rather than leaving it to the last minute. Making a weekly shopping list and writing down your weekly meals ahead of time may help with this.