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What Your Doctor Didn’t Tell You Before Weight Loss Surgery : Food Edition


You’re Starving, or Not

For some WLS patients, hunger goes away. For others, hunger is reduced enough so that you can keep it in check, even if you were constantly hungry before WLS. Some patients, though, still need to fight hunger. It is still a struggle to pass up certain foods and to keep portions small.

Your Head Gets Hungry

“Head hunger” is when you think you are hungry, but you are really just bored, the food looks good, or you feel like eating for some other reason. It is important to learn to recognize head hunger so that you know when it is not time to eat, but it is also important to realize that it may not be time to eat every time you are physically hungry. That is because you are losing weight, which means you are eating less than you burn, which means…your body is hungry.

Pizza and Ice Cream Taste Great

Often, your sense of taste changes after weight loss surgery. You may be one of the lucky patients who stops loving junk food. Pizza and French fries may be too greasy and salty for your new taste buds, and ice cream and muffins may be too sweet.

On the other hand, your taste buds may be just as enamored with the food groups of sweet, salty, starchy, and greasy. You may need to work just as hard as you did pre-op to keep pizza, ice cream, fried chicken, and bagels from overwhelming your diet.

Salads May Not Work

Your game plan for weight loss may include a huge salad once or twice a day. It is filling, healthy, and low-calorie – the perfect weight loss combo. The problem is that many weight loss surgery patients can no longer stomach salads for months or longer after surgery. Instead of lettuce, a protein, and some dressing, consider building your meals with cooked vegetables, a protein, and a small amount of healthy fat such as avocado or peanut butter.

Creativity Is the Name of the Game

Many other healthy foods may be off-limits because your tastes change or they are too stringy or they make you sick. You will have to be flexible to find healthy substitutes for them. Here are some common trouble foods and some alternatives.

  • Popcorn: try Protein Cereal as a quick snack.

  • Celery: opt for Bean Crisps

  • Lean beef and poultry: try fish, veggie burgers and other soy and bean products, and lentils.

  • Cheese: try peanut butter or hummus.

The good news is that most WLS patients tend not to develop aversions to vegetables, so pile your plate high!

What Happened to Water?

Water is the one calorie-free and free from cost food that is actually a nutrient…and it may have tasted great before surgery. Afterwards, not so much. Some patients have trouble drinking plain water after surgery. It just does not taste good anymore. Now that diet soft drinks and carbonated flavored water are off limits, you have fewer choices for hydration – but they are there.

  • Flavored water without bubbles.

  • Decaffeinated low-acid coffee and tea.

  • Ice water with lemon or lime.

Malnutrition Happens

Malnourishment may be far from your mind when your goal is weight loss, but it happens quite often. It can be a deficiency of protein, but also of vitamins and minerals. You will have to get enough protein every day and take your nutritional supplements every day, probably for life.

Sit Near the Bathroom

You just never know when you may need one when you sit down to eat a meal. Dumping syndrome strikes fast and without warning. By the way, you also cannot predict how full you will get and when you will be able to finish your entire plate.

You can make your weight loss surgery journey a tad easier by aware of what to expect, and there may be a few things your doctor does not tell you about.

  • Like 6


Thanks for this article! The doctors truly do not tell you ANY of these things that our bodies go through. I, myself had the gastric bypass surgery recently and have to be very careful of WHAT I am wearing. Sometimes, I have to wear Depends as a precaution. Such an embarrassment to eat a small amount of Protein and vegetable. Leave the dinner table and diarrhea hit you before you make it to the bathroom, especially, when others are sharing! I may have shared too much. BUT, I needed you to know that THIS is an exceptional idea of a Forum YOU put together 😃! Great job!!

  • Like 4

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Thanks for the realism! I have pondered the wisdom of having those on hand and now I will definitely get some. I also plan to carry around a handled bucket in case I vomit. Seems like "Be Prepared" is the mantra and planning for all contingencies possible will make this adventure doable. My VSG is coming up 7/17/18 and I'm in process of cooking and freezing 3oz containers of chicken broth, and organizing the kitchen. I cannot eat processed foods and sweeteners so make all my own stuff.

You are right -- this IS a wonderful forum. Thank you, Alex!!

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