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Surviving the 14 day pre-surgery diet- any tips?



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Hi all! I had my final consult with the surgeon last week and paperwork has been submitted for insurance approval! I am hoping to schedule surgery for sometime in July, if all goes well. My surgeon requires a 14 day liquid only Protein diet prior to surgery (3 Protein Shakes and 1 small yogurt per day). In an attempt to 'practice' and get a sense for what this will be like, I have tried to follow this diet a few times. And by late afternoon each time, I cave and eat something. I don't know how I will be able to do this for 2 weeks! I am fully invested in this process and committed to this new lifestyle but really find it hard to do only liquids.

Any suggestions? Tips? Greatly appreciated :)

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I am starting mine 5/24. In order to prepare I am reducing sugar and carbs and Portion Control. I figure this will help to not shock my system all at once with the changes. I am hoping to stay busy so I have less time to think about food. We will see how it goes.

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It's hard to describe, but knowing that you are in the final stretch until surgery kicks in a new level of motivation. I could've never done this before. But knowing that I have to shrink my liver or they could potentially not operate, or it would be unsafe -- after all of these months of effort -- has made eating 800-1000 calories a day for the last 5 days almost easy.

I also had read on these forums that the first 3 days are the hardest and I'm finding that to be true in my case, too. Yesterday and today were easy. You've got this!

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I hope you are allowed more than just Protein Shakes and yogurt!

For my 14 day diet, I am allowed reduced fat strained cream Soups, sugar free Jello and puddings, skim milk, and broth. I have broken it up into 4 meals, 200 cal or less. I usually get 80+ grams of Protein in that way. I use the Isopure non-flavored Protein Powder and add it to 1 serving of strained Soup or broth. That is very satisfying. In the morning, I add the powder to a cup of fat free fairlife milk, and then I sprinkle in some sugar free jello pudding powder--very few calories, but a nice flavor without the cloying sweet. I basically add protein to 3 of the 4 meals, and the last is just broth. Don't forget fluids! I drink Water constantly.

I find that having specific times that I eat helps. (6:30, 10:30, 2:30, and 6:30). These are actually the same times that I would normally eat before the pre-op diet--so it was an easy transition. If I get a little hungry, I might have a meal a little earlier, but then I find I'm not as hungry for the next meal. Either way, I can always ask myself, "Can I go another hour?"

Finally, I would wait. You are only trying to shrink your liver for surgery. Instead of trying to master the diet, just make healthy changes (if you haven't already) and maybe have one shake a day, just to get used to them. Once you hit those days where you HAVE to do it, you will probably find it easier to stick to it. You will find that you may have more energy and you may start to feel better.

I found that I had headaches the first two or three days, in the afternoon. Sometimes I get hungry, but by the time I have had my 4th meal, I'm not. I have also started taking Miralax everyday so that I poop regularly. I didn't start that until day 4 or 5 though.

Hoping the best for you!

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I, honestly, don't know how people do the full liquid diet pre-op. I thought my surgeon's diet was hard! My diet allowed 6-8oz of Protein a day (either meat or yogurt, but not both), two 'healthy' fats (1/4 avocado or 1/4 cup of nuts), 1/2 cup of fruit, and all the veggies you want. I survived mostly off of a veggie Soup I made. I basically lived off of it for two weeks and the two 1/4 cups of nuts I ate and the fruit and meat were like heaven lol. It was hard enough on that. But, I did lose 15 pounds on that diet and was told my liver looked great so, it worked.

Just try to focus on the end goal, because the diet itself won't be fun...

Edited by NovaLuna

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11 hours ago, Oeschrm said:

I hope you are allowed more than just Protein Shakes and yogurt!

For my 14 day diet, I am allowed reduced fat strained cream Soups, sugar free Jello and puddings, skim milk, and broth. I have broken it up into 4 meals, 200 cal or less. I usually get 80+ grams of Protein in that way. I use the Isopure non-flavored Protein Powder and add it to 1 serving of strained Soup or broth. That is very satisfying. In the morning, I add the powder to a cup of fat free fairlife milk, and then I sprinkle in some sugar free Jello pudding powder--very few calories, but a nice flavor without the cloying sweet. I basically add Protein to 3 of the 4 meals, and the last is just broth. Don't forget fluids! I drink Water constantly.

I find that having specific times that I eat helps. (6:30, 10:30, 2:30, and 6:30). These are actually the same times that I would normally eat before the pre-op diet--so it was an easy transition. If I get a little hungry, I might have a meal a little earlier, but then I find I'm not as hungry for the next meal. Either way, I can always ask myself, "Can I go another hour?"

Finally, I would wait. You are only trying to shrink your liver for surgery. Instead of trying to master the diet, just make healthy changes (if you haven't already) and maybe have one shake a day, just to get used to them. Once you hit those days where you HAVE to do it, you will probably find it easier to stick to it. You will find that you may have more energy and you may start to feel better.

I found that I had headaches the first two or three days, in the afternoon. Sometimes I get hungry, but by the time I have had my 4th meal, I'm not. I have also started taking Miralax everyday so that I poop regularly. I didn't start that until day 4 or 5 though.

Hoping the best for you!

I 100% agree that Isopure helps. I use the flavored and the non flavored. It is so mich better than the pre mixed sweetness of the Protein Shakes like Premier.

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I had the liquid pre-op diet for two weeks too. I just reminded myself that I can do anything for 14 days. It's not forever, and before you know it, it'll be post-op and you'll be figuring out how your new tool works. You can do it! Any habits you can change now will be a HUGE help to you both during pre and post op. It will help to take the shock off your system later and will help with getting rid of bad habits.

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16 hours ago, Elahnen said:

I am starting mine 5/24. In order to prepare I am reducing sugar and carbs and Portion Control. I figure this will help to not shock my system all at once with the changes. I am hoping to stay busy so I have less time to think about food. We will see how it goes.

Hi, That is my strategy too, trying to get myself ready for it. But it was harder than I thought when I tried to do 1 day of only liquids, I guess I just have to build up to it. Good luck!

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16 hours ago, muala94 said:

It's hard to describe, but knowing that you are in the final stretch until surgery kicks in a new level of motivation. I could've never done this before. But knowing that I have to shrink my liver or they could potentially not operate, or it would be unsafe -- after all of these months of effort -- has made eating 800-1000 calories a day for the last 5 days almost easy.

I also had read on these forums that the first 3 days are the hardest and I'm finding that to be true in my case, too. Yesterday and today were easy. You've got this!

That makes sense! I was hoping to get myself ready for the intitial shock of it, I might try to reduce the daily calories intake a little slower over the next few weeks and hopefully it'll be easier when it's time - I think that you are correct- it's going to be different when it is really 'go time' and not practice :) Good luck on your journey

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16 hours ago, Oeschrm said:

I hope you are allowed more than just Protein Shakes and yogurt!

For my 14 day diet, I am allowed reduced fat strained cream Soups, sugar free Jello and puddings, skim milk, and broth. I have broken it up into 4 meals, 200 cal or less. I usually get 80+ grams of Protein in that way. I use the Isopure non-flavored Protein Powder and add it to 1 serving of strained Soup or broth. That is very satisfying. In the morning, I add the powder to a cup of fat free fairlife milk, and then I sprinkle in some sugar free Jello pudding powder--very few calories, but a nice flavor without the cloying sweet. I basically add Protein to 3 of the 4 meals, and the last is just broth. Don't forget fluids! I drink Water constantly.

I find that having specific times that I eat helps. (6:30, 10:30, 2:30, and 6:30). These are actually the same times that I would normally eat before the pre-op diet--so it was an easy transition. If I get a little hungry, I might have a meal a little earlier, but then I find I'm not as hungry for the next meal. Either way, I can always ask myself, "Can I go another hour?"

Finally, I would wait. You are only trying to shrink your liver for surgery. Instead of trying to master the diet, just make healthy changes (if you haven't already) and maybe have one shake a day, just to get used to them. Once you hit those days where you HAVE to do it, you will probably find it easier to stick to it. You will find that you may have more energy and you may start to feel better.

I found that I had headaches the first two or three days, in the afternoon. Sometimes I get hungry, but by the time I have had my 4th meal, I'm not. I have also started taking Miralax everyday so that I poop regularly. I didn't start that until day 4 or 5 though.

Hoping the best for you!

Thanks so much! I am going to take your advice and work myself down slower, I have been keeping to under 1400 calories a day. Going to try to slowly reduce a little every day so I feel more prepared when it is time to start the pre-op diet.

Edited by Dani64519

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11 hours ago, NovaLuna said:

I, honestly, don't know how people do the full liquid diet pre-op. I thought my surgeon's diet was hard! My diet allowed 6-8oz of Protein a day (either meat or yogurt, but not both), two 'healthy' fats (1/4 avocado or 1/4 cup of nuts), 1/2 cup of fruit, and all the veggies you want. I survived mostly off of a veggie Soup I made. I basically lived off of it for two weeks and the two 1/4 cups of nuts I ate and the fruit and meat were like heaven lol. It was hard enough on that. But, I did lose 15 pounds on that diet and was told my liver looked great so, it worked.

Just try to focus on the end goal, because the diet itself won't be fun...

Thanks! I was surprised that the pre-op was only liquids for the full 14 days. It's going to be hard no matter how well I prepare, I see a lot of early bed times for me during those 2 weeks.. :)

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I had to do 3 weeks of Optifast (liquid diet) prior to surgery. What helped me is that my bariatric team said this liquid diet was to shrink my liver. They have to hold the liver up and out of the way when doing surgery. Apparently liquid diets really help to make surgeries more successful. I just kept telling myself that I wanted the best possible outcome for myself and that it was really important and it was only three weeks! Out of a lifetime of being obese three weeks was nothing! I knew this was my last chance to change my life and get healthy. Plus a note on the fridge listing "why* I was doing this was helpful too. Hang in there! It does get better.

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I also have to do a 3 week liquid diet-5 Protein Shakes a day and can have limited broth and sugar free Jello. I am on day 6 and reading what others had to say helped me. The first day I was fine but day 2-5 I struggled with not feeling well. Today turned a corner for me and while I'm not 100% I feel a lot better then the past few days. For me it was knowing that I want this as a tool to help change my life. If I can't do the liquid diet then I will struggle with the changes later and I wanted to give the surgeon the best liver I could for surgery. Its not easy but I made up my mind and thats what I keep reminding myself. I still want food and its hard as a single mom to get my kids their food while knowing I have a great Protein Drink waiting. I was also limited to what shakes I could use and so I am using the slim fast high Protein Shake and I actually really like it.

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It’s horrible for the first few days - not going to sugar coat. I was tired, constant headache, crabby. By day 4, I had energy and wasn’t as hungry. Be prepared for the suck fest And keep yourself busy. Avoid temptation (I couldn’t be around while my family was eating). Ask people around you to be respectful of your situation. My partner would warn me or ask permission to eat in front of me.


Also if you find yourself with a headache - up your sodium. You’re not supposed to take meds, but electrolytes will help and sodium helped me. I was allowed pickles and broth.

Edited by WanderingHeart

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2 hours ago, WanderingHeart said:

It’s horrible for the first few days - not going to sugar coat. I was tired, constant headache, crabby. By day 4, I had energy and wasn’t as hungry. Be prepared for the suck fest And keep yourself busy. Avoid temptation (I couldn’t be around while my family was eating). Ask people around you to be respectful of your situation. My partner would warn me or ask permission to eat in front of me.


Also if you find yourself with a headache - up your sodium. You’re not supposed to take meds, but electrolytes will help and sodium helped me. I was allowed pickles and broth.

Thanks for the headache tips- I already know I will need it :) I am glad to hear it gets better after the rough few intial days. I am sure my excitement will help me power through too. I have started replacing 1 meal a day with a Protein Shake and lowing calorie intake a little more each day so it is not a complete shock. Good luck on your journey, hope. you are feeling well!

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